Your start-up’s been growing nicely and you’re finding’s that it’s time to bring in customer success talent. The job ad isn’t all that hard. Search on SEEK, LinkedIn, Monster or another popular job board and you’ll find really similar sounding job ads from which you’ll be able to write your own. You’ve drafted it up and are sitting back, admiring your effort.
Don’t sit back for too long, the hard work has just started. Assuming you’ve got a good interview process and you’re happy with the candidate, the last thing you want happening is for your sparkly new CSM give you the old “it’s not you, it’s me” and move on within 6 months. While you might write the below points into your JD, here’s how a real CSM (me) interprets them and what I really want when I read this.
Is It What You Sold?
Start-ups have a certain allure to them. Every CSM wants to be there at ground level for the next Uber, Canva, Facebook, Insta, etc. You might view your start-up with rose-coloured glasses, which means that you might not be able to see what’s not perfect about it. Brainstorm, write down what negatives there are. Ask around your team, see what they think then compile it with yours.
Prospective CSMs are OK knowing that the start-up is early stage and not that “sexy” yet. As long as we don’t feel like we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes.
Real Career Progression
“Career opportunities”, “career progression”… call it what you will, but it’s a cliched term that makes a lot of CSMs jaded and suspicious. We want specific examples of what this means. Ideally, we want to know that there is already a system or process in place for us to work towards, not that “if you work hard, you’ll get recognised for it”.
The thing is, CSMs are often brought in the fix a problem: keeping customers happy. If we are to grow and develop in our role, we understand that we’re expected to keep customers happy. But beyond the standard SOPs, are there chances to manage or train up juniors? Are there chances to move sideways (with real examples)?
This for me personally is one of the bigger things I look for. I want to know that the people I work with are going to be good to work with. This doesn’t just go for my immediate team, but also the wider organisation. CSMs will work with the account managers, BDMs and tech support on a regular basis, but what about PMs, software engineers and the like?
Be ready to share stories of what the people in your team are like, as well as the person who’s going to be the direct manager of the CSM. Expect a lot of questions in particular about the latter and also ask questions about the sort of people the CSM would work well with directly. This makes or breaks their experience at your start-up.
Chances to Upskill
This is another big one. I’ve put it in a separate category career progression because in my opinion, there are differences. Career progression is generally about promotions and growing into new roles. Upskilling is about adding to your toolkit. Typically, these are skills that the CSM can go to the bank with and take with them wherever they go.
A big one is learning how to use particular software, like CRMs or ERPs like Hubspot, Gainsight or Salesforce. These are SaaSes that are often used in tech land and look really attractive on a CV. Will you pay for training for the CSM to get certified? If you haven’t considered that, now’s a good time to see if it’ll fly with the board/investors because that’s what will make a CSM’s eyes light up.
Lastly I’ve got performance bonuses. Depending on what you’ve read, this may or may not have already been what you were going to offer to your prospective CSM anyway, but it’s definitely an attractive carrot, especially if you frame it correctly.
What do I mean by this? Performance bonuses for CSMs shouldn’t be linked to KPIs, like they are for sales people. It’s not a commission. It’s exactly as the name suggests: an extra on-top payment (usually quarterly) that’s a pat on the back for the ongoing effort to keep customers happy. It will keep the CSM laser focused on the right metrics and encourage them to bring more to the table and identify the customers that represent the greatest opportunity and risk.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what CSMs are thinking when they’re reading your JDs, the answers are here. Take it from me: if you put the effort in to listen to us, you can rely on us to be there when you really need us.