Salary trends for customer success managers (CSMs) in 2023 are reflecting evolution of this role and its place in the current tech industry. The growth of average rates slowed down for entry-level jobs this year after peaking in 2021, yet we found that there was still a potential for higher total earnings for those with more experience as many companies sought to increase efficiency and customer retention. For more information on CSMs and other sales, marketing and customer success roles, check out our updated Compensation Guide for 2023 here.
In this blog, we will take a look at the top tech customer success manager salary trends that emerged within the past year and what the biggest influences were behind them:
What is a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?
CSMs are responsible for ensuring that a company’s customers are satisfied with the products and services they have purchased, and are receiving maximum value from them. This means that customer success teams play a crucial role in the success of technology startups and established tech companies alike. They are on the frontline of customer retention efforts, nurturing renewals on subscription plans, as well as creating and growing relationships between clients and the company.
Customer success management is a subset of a broader account-based marketing and sales approach, where CSMs are half support and half account manager in many cases. Customer success managers need a deep understanding of the product and service line-up, but more importantly they need to know client accounts inside and outside to be able to get ahead of churn and keep an eye out for opportunities that pop up.
Customer Success Manager Salary in 2023
The salary of a Customer Success professional can vary depending on the level of experience and expertise of the individual, as well as the company size and sub-sector of the industry. We found that average compensation for a CSM with less than three years of experience remained at $80,000 – $120,000 on the East and West Coasts, while in the Midwest it was usually $70,000 – $100,000. For those with more than three years of experience, it was $100,000 – $160,000 and $90,000 – $140,000, respectively. However, we also saw several outliers in our network for total on-track earnings (OTE) at both the low and high ends, with the biggest range at $200,000 – $260,000 in 2022.
Job Perks for Customer Success Roles
Stock options are becoming increasingly popular as a way to attract and retain top CSM talent. These options allow employees to purchase company stock at a discounted price, giving them a stake in the company’s success. This can be a powerful incentive for top performers who are looking for a long-term career opportunity.
Bonuses and commissions are another way to attract and retain top candidates for a customer success team. These incentives can be tied to specific performance metrics, such as customer retention rates or revenue growth. By offering bonuses and commissions, CSMs are provided with a clear path to earning additional income and a tangible way to measure their progress and success.
Professional Development for CSMs
Customer success managers are constantly learning and adapting to new technologies and customer needs. As such, offering professional development opportunities such as training, mentorship, and networking events can be a powerful way to attract and retain top talent.
Account Managers vs Customer Success Manager
Account manager (AMs) could be called a broader version of the CSM position, but with differing responsibilities depending on the organization. You will typically still see this role in companies that may not have a SaaS business – or at least one that has not matured over long – and often they take on inside selling duties in addition to account management, whereas customer success managers are more focused on direct support and service. The average salary for AMs is $70,000 – $100,000 in the Central and Mountain time zones, and $80,000 – $120,000 in the Eastern and Pacific time zones. Rates are similar to those of CSMs, although potential OTE is usually higher at entry-level.
An enterprise CSM is a customer success professional that has experience with and focuses on accounts for bigger-sized clients. We saw a bigger push in hiring for this role in the second half of 2022, echoing drives we saw in other parts of the technology sector to acquire more enterprise-level clients and retain those already on-board. Compensation for this role varies greatly between different organizations, though most start at a base rate similar to most experienced CSMs.
Director of Customer Success
A Director of Customer Success (also Manager of Customer Success or CSM Manager) is a senior-level role in an organization and typically oversees a team of CSMs, making sure they are hitting objectives and that the department is aligned with operational goals. The Director’s salary can vary greatly depending on the company size, industry, and the individual’s level of experience and expertise. The average base compensation we found was $110,000 – $160,000 in most areas, although those in New York and San Francisco saw a higher rate at $120,000 – $200,000. OTE reached $140,000 – $200,000 and $160,000 – $220,000, respectively.
Given the weight experience level has on deciding a competitive salary rate for this role, many organizations should consider reaching out to a recruitment agency when sourcing CSM candidates. These agencies have a deep understanding of the market and can help you find and attract top talent quickly on a fee basis, without having to play a guessing game when scrutinizing a candidate’s job history on paper.
Hiring platforms are systems such as online job boards where job seekers and postings are featured between potential candidates and employers. They bring the advantage of being able to search for any type of job or candidates through social media-like user interface, though the downside is typically that it can be hard to find what you’re looking for quickly.
Evolution of Customer Success Manager Salaries
CSMs are still in relatively high demand in 2023, and though economic uncertainty caused enterprises and startups alike to slow down hiring, we believe that with the current state of the industry that customer success salaries will begin going up again by 2024. Tech companies everywhere generally have a significant problem finding both the right people and enough of the right people to fill their open jobs, and supply is only going to be stretched further when the economy resumes growth in the near future.
In the meantime, everyone in SaaS needs a customer success team that can build and maintain relationships with their client base and prevent churn, so expect average CSM compensation to jump again when competition increases.
Betts Connect Can Help
If you’re building go-to-market teams, or seeking your next opportunity, Betts Connect can help. After more than a decade of building relationships with the world’s most innovative companies and professionals, you can now access this network with Connect. As the only go-to-market recruiting platform built by recruiters and powered by recruiters, Connect enables you to search through a network of vetted go-to-market professionals actively looking for their next opportunity, and reduce time to hire, save money, and spend more time on your growth strategy. Plus, our clients see ROI in less than 3 months.
In addition, our experienced teams always know the most up to date information on compensation and the working arrangements that top professionals are seeking from a future employer. If you have any questions, please reach out. We look forward to speaking with you!
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