CSM Role: What attributes do you look for?

  • 2 November 2016
  • 1 reply

Userlevel 5
When hiring a CSM, do you look for a hybrid set of attributes (sales, project management, implementations, technical, support, etc)?  If so, how should you focus your efforts in finding this talent?  Should new hires have a strong grasp of the industry domain?  There are a lot checkboxes to check when looking for a candidate, and not everyone will meet all the criteria.

1 reply

Userlevel 3
Your question is a great one; and as for many great questions, unfortunately I don't believe there's a universal answer. My #1 piece of advice would be to make a list of all the activities in post-sales that need to get done, and then cluster those activities into logical roles (which may include some or all of the roles I list in my blog post on organizational charters). If, as a thought experiment, you define CSM broadly as "work that you do in order to pave the way for the renewal," then actually we have 2 roles at Gainsight that count as CSM: Client Outcomes and Customer Success Architects. Client Outcomes Managers are focused on strategic work; Customer Success Architects are focused on technical work.

That said, let me try to provide you with some more specific guidance. Your target profile for CSM will depend on a number of variables. Here are a few:

(1) Are you focused on small customers (resulting in high account ratios per CSM), or large customers (low account ratios)?

If small: Hire folks who can execute a process consistently
If large: Hire folks who can have a strategic conversation with an exec

(2) Are you a startup or an established company?

If startup: Hire folks who can wear multiple hats and thrive in ambiguity
If established: Hire folks who can represent your brand well

(3) Are you growing quickly or more stable?

If quickly: Hire folks who can create their own processes so that they don't reinvent the wheel every time
If stable: Hire folks who want to achieve excellence by a standard you define

(4) Is your product highly technical?

If so: Hire technical folks

(5) Does your product require significant business process change?

If so: Consider hiring folks with change management experience (e.g. at a consulting firm)