3 Components of a winning mindset in CSM

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Hi, Markus here. Welcome to a free edition of the Customer-Value-Led-Growth Newsletter.

Every week, I share strategies, guides, and frameworks to help you create exceptional value for your customers and company.

If you are not a paid subscriber, here’s what you might have missed:

Life in Customer Success Management has not become easier.

  • Customer expectations are still high

  • Budgets are still low

  • The emotional toll is growing

and you depend on the quality of customers and products more than ever.

And yet the biggest difference between success and failure in CSM is your mindset.

I don’t know where the way Customer Success Management has been done in the past decade came from and how it spread.

But one thing is certain to me: It clearly did not work.

In today’s post, I want to help you “reprogram” yourself to find a new way and unlock your full potential:

1. Total Growth

For the past decade, CSMs have been viewed as the guardians of revenue. The last line of defense that is bound to stop customers from leaving at all costs.

The name of the game was playing not to lose. And it makes perfect sense as customer retention is the lifeblood of any SaaS company.

But it’s also the low-hanging fruit and sets the tone for a mental model I call “Minimum Viable Outcomes”. CSM teams all over the world became focused on efficiency, “doing more with less”.

Like a football team trying to hold a 0:0 score and “park the bus” for 90 minutes. And like in the sports analogy, it’s playing with fire.

What if you would never have to ask your customers whether they are planning to renew? Because it’s the only logical choice. Because they got so much value from working with you that leaving would be plain stupid.

If you are focused on the other end, what I call the “Maximum Possible Outcome”, there’s an unlimited upside. All potential efficiency gains are dwarfed by additional revenue growth.

  • You can grow the customer 5x-10x their initial size, maybe even more.

  • You can get dozens of referrals that convert during the customer's lifetime.

  • If you deliver the maximum possible outcome to all your customers - how much can you raise your prices?

And in the end not only your customers and your company will benefit. You will either get commissions, and bonus payments or leverage your impact to negotiate a higher salary. 

2. Value for Value

For a decade, CSMs have been indoctrinated to believe that “commercial responsibility” will destroy their customer relationships.

Associating it with being “pushy” or “sleazy”. And yes, if you are working for a company where that’s part of the DNA it will happen.

But if you are doing it the right way, there’s no reason to shy away from selling to your customers. What you need to understand is this:

  1. New customers buy based on expected value

  2. Existing customers buy based on received value

Your customers’ demand for renewals, expansions, or upsells results from proof of value. Otherwise, no sales skills or techniques will them buy more/again. 

If you are delivering value first why would customers not be interested in hearing how they can get more?

In the end, you are in a business relationship with your customer that is built on the exchange of value.

As a CSM you are doing 98 of the 100 steps toward customers renewing their contracts or buying more.

The old practice of AM/AEs stepping in, completing the last 2 steps, and getting all the commission does not make any sense.

or buying more. Why would you want an AM/AE to step in, complete the last 2 steps, and get all the praise and commission?

It might feel strange and scary but taking commercial responsibility is not a burden but an opportunity.

3. Less is more

Customer Success Management is not a quantity game. You don’t create better results with more customers, more activities, and more skills.

You are creating more results through focus and scoring the big points. You need to stop wasting your time

  • working with customers who will never become successful

  • performing activities that don’t move the needle

  • acquiring random skills (like ChatGPT prompt engineering)

Instead spend >80% of your time

  • helping the customers that account for 80% of revenue to further grow their value

  • providing customers with the education and training they need to achieve their desired outcomes

  • improving high-impact skills like active listening, problem-solving and teaching

and reduce “waste” to <20%. How? Take a step back and gain clarity about who your top customers are, what works effectively, and what skills pay the highest returns.

Whenever you are ready, here’s how I can further help:

  1. Customer Value-Led Growth Cohort Training: Learn how to deliver, grow, and monetize Customer Value to accelerate your career.

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