The time for traditional metrics is over. Year-over-year growth has long been the be-all-end-all for determining a company’s success. But while growth is still indispensable, another metric has been gaining prominence – and its name is churn. Success in minimizing churn, or customer turnover, is part and parcel of the success of a business as a whole. This is especially true in the subscription-based world of SaaS, in which recurring revenue from customers who stay put is just as big a part of growth – if not more so – as new logos. And when it comes to churn, the buck stops with your Customer Success Managers (CSM).
We’ve discussed, at some length, why Customer Success Managers are so important today. But recognizing the importance of the role is just the first step toward actually hiring a CSM. Even knowing what to look for in a CSM doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to get the best ones onto your payroll. It’s crucial to remember that just as you’re looking for the right candidate for your company, your interviewees are looking for the right company for them and their careers. This is an essential reality in the debate over how to hire employees successfully.
Pro-tip: Get a detailed profile of a typical CSM and Account Manager in our overview.
Here are some things you can do to make your open roles, team, and company inviting for the most talented Customer Success Managers out there. Follow them, and you just might find your interview process giving way to employee onboarding faster than ever.
1. Don’t confuse Customer Success Manager with Customer Support Representative
CSM is a relatively new role in the SaaS space, and often gets conflated with a legacy role with a similar title: the Customer Support Representative (CSR). This is a mistake – the two roles require vastly different skill sets and have vastly different job descriptions, the main difference being that CSMs are primarily focused on proactive retention strategies and relationships while customer support is much more reactive in nature. Be sure to demonstrate an understanding of this difference throughout your search for a Customer Success Manager. From job posting to interview to offer, make the role clear. Let your candidates know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re not confusing the two roles, and that they won’t end up doing CSR work under the CSM title.
2. Allow your CSMs the kind of mobility they prefer
Everyone wants the opportunity for a promotion, and Customer Success Managers are no exception. You could go the traditional route and slap a “Senior” in front of their job title, along with a raise, after they’ve been with your company for a year. But for CSMs, it’s also a good idea to make sure there are opportunities for lateral moves. CSMs have a good amount in common with other roles in your organization such as Account Manager or Sales Engineer – all of these roles interface with customers or prospects, all of them focus on user needs, and all of them require a command of your product’s features and functionality – and it’s not uncommon for CSMs to want to transition to one of these related roles. Ensuring that this is possible can go a long way toward making your company attractive.
3. Listen to them
Your CSMs are on the front lines of the customer experience. They’re often the first to hear how your customers feel about the product. They arguably get more feedback than anyone else about what your company can do to make that product better. With this in mind, an open line of communication between your CSMs and your Product team is essential. Highlight this line of communication during the interview process. This won’t just tell your candidates that they’ll be heard and valued in their role – it also might just empower you to better tailor your product enhancements to what your users are actually looking for. That’s a success for everyone.
4. Give them something to chase
Account Executives and Account Managers don’t have to be the only employees on your team working for commissions – nor should they. Customer Success Managers may not be responsible for closing accounts, but they are measured on other crucial hard metrics like customer retention rates, product adoption, and others. This is a golden opportunity to incentivize high CSM performance. By offering bonuses and spiffs according to these metrics, you can show top CSM candidates that you appreciate their talent, and that you’ll reward that talent if they come work for you.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be better equipped to land the Customer Success Manager of your dreams. And don’t wait until employee onboarding to apply them – candidates should know throughout the interview process that the role you’re looking to fill will provide the opportunities they seek. If you can pull that off, you’ll be better equipped to pull top-talent CSMs onto your team.