The Customer Success Manager (CSM) is a role that was made popular by the SaaS sector, and is a vital early hire for startups. CSMs perform a post-sales function, but contribute greatly to go-to-market (GTM) strategy by continuing to provide value to customer accounts, securing annual recurring revenue (ARR) – a key metric for venture capital-backed companies.
In this blog, we will go over the important role that Customer Success Managers fulfill for SaaS startups, and how to hire your unicorn candidate with data and best practices cultivated by the Betts team.
What is a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?
A CSM is most often the face of your business and your platform for your customers, acting as their point of contact for support, service and general communication when not being directly engaged by your sales or marketing resources. A Customer Success Manager will work with your client accounts to demonstrate the value of your product, educate them on functionality and reinforce the two-way relationship. CSMs are the lynchpin for keeping your sales motion going and growing, helping to reduce the chances of customer churn and maintaining ARR.
Why Customer Success (CX) Matters for SaaS Startups
Customer Success (CX) teams are a critical component for VC-funded startups in the SaaS sector, where competition is fierce and retention is based on ROI tomorrow as well as today. The technology market faces disruption regularly from new product categories, in addition to external economic factors that will inevitably force many organizations to reevaluate the value of their tech stack. CX teams inherently provide a value-added service that can make the difference between retention year-over-year (YoY) or hemorrhaging revenue.
The Growing Importance of the Enterprise CSM
At Betts, we have seen a rise in orgs seeking to scale their GTM strategy to engage larger clients, which includes hiring more (or their first) Enterprise Customer Success Managers. An Enterprise CSM is a CX role specifically meant to work with enterprise-sized accounts, which means that a unicorn candidate for this position will have a deep understanding of the specific pain points that affect these businesses in particular.
Customer Success Manager VS Account Manager
It is important to understand the key differences between Customer Success Managers and Account Managers (AMs) when recruiting to fill either role. An AM typically occupies a more traditional account-based selling (ABS) position and will often still serve in a sales capacity predominantly. A CSM’s primary duties will always be service, support and education, and while they can leverage their channel for upselling or cross-selling opportunities, their first concern must always be their account relationship.
How to Hire the Right Customer Success Manager
Hiring a Customer Success Manager that is the right fit for your team requires that you take a step back and reevaluate your talent acquisition approach for the current market. The recruiting models that SaaS startups relied on since before the 2020 pandemic are not going to cut it in 2024 and beyond, with every business in your space trying to source top talent from the same wide pool of job seekers.
Betts is redefining how the tech sector sources candidates with a new methodology for targeting your unicorn GTM talent:
Target Job Description and Compensation Rate for Unicorn CSMs
Traditional job descriptions for sales, marketing and CX roles in SaaS have been recycled for years by every internal and outsourced recruiter in the sector. That is why to cut through the noise and stand out, you must move to a JD 2.0 that better captures the unique responsibilities and challenges that a CSM would need to fulfill at your organization.
This new job description should ask for:
- Experience related to your market
- Experience related to your specific sales motion
- Skills that are relevant to your industry & sales motion
- Target compensation, including salary & benefits
To learn more, check out our blog on The New Job Description 2.0 for SaaS Sales.
Keeping Up with the Latest Customer Success Manager Salary and Benefits Trends
Salary and benefit trends for Customer Success Managers have seen significant changes in response to shifting market developments. We saw rates go through spikes and drops in the Betts network year after year, but many of the key influencing factors for compensation remained universal:
- Business Size
- Market Size
- Work-life Balance
- Learning & Development
Your target compensation for top CSMs needs to be a balance between upper average OTE (on-target earnings) for your market and the revenue ROI cap for the position.
For more information, as well as the latest salary rates and other trends, please refer to the Betts Compensation Guide – we update it every year with new data.
Tips for Interviewing and Onboarding Your Customer Success Manager Candidates
Once you have found your ideal candidate for an open Customer Success Manager position, you will obviously still need to interview them to determine if they are the exact right fit for your team.
You can use the Betts resources below to help you build an interview and onboarding process that will enable you to better qualify if a candidate meets your criteria for a unicorn CSM:
- 10 Tips on How to Conduct an Interview Effectively
- Key Questions to Ask When Hiring a Customer Success Manager
- How to Hire a CSM: Tips for Evaluating Candidates
- Maximizing Your Hiring Success with Quality of Hire Metrics
- How to Craft an Offer Letter for Tech Jobs
Hiring CSMs with a Recruiting Agency
Engaging a recruiting agency or RPO firm to scale your search for a new Customer Success Manager is a great way to cut down on the time it takes to source an ideal candidate. However, there are also obviously costs associated with engaging outsourced talent acquisition, and when hiring for a position that requires a unicorn candidate it’s vital that you work with recruiters that understand what skills and qualities you need in the right fit.
Betts Recruiting has helped over 10,000 SaaS startups hire at every stage, from Seed to IPO. We’ve also cultivated one of the largest networks of GTM talent in tech, accessible through our proprietary hiring platform, Betts Connect. Leveraging our expertise, knowledge and resources allows us to provide a different kind of agency experience – one better suited to the unique challenges of SaaS companies.
Recruit Customer Success Managers with the Same Approach as CX
Betts Recruitment as a Service (RaaS) is a new approach to sourcing and hiring top talent in the technology sector. In the same model that CX brings to SaaS, RaaS scales up the value of your agency relationship by consolidating our resources, technology and service into one package. You get access to both our recruiting support as well as our one-of-a-kind technology platform at a fraction of the cost of an outsourced recruiter team.
Learn more about RaaS here, and see how you can hire as many CSMs as you need over time while keeping your talent acquisition costs down.