- Customer Value Led Growth
- The 9 Core Competencies for successful CSM in 2024
The 9 Core Competencies for successful CSM in 2024
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.
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I firmly believe no role has more growth potential in tech than a CSM.
Every day you can make a difference by helping your customers win (bigger).
Without exaggeration, you can change your customers’ lives.
However, many CSMs have unlocked only a fracture of their growth potential.
They are stuck in an infinite loop of checking off lists, working through their inbox, and handling escalations.
They are far far away from “delivering value with every interaction”.
It keeps them poor in many ways
personal and professional growth
recognition and status
compensation and career growth
The reason why this is happening is because they are following outdated and outright bad practices.
Here are the 9 Core Competencies CSMs need to build in 2024 to grow their performance, influence, and salary:
1. Customer Discovery:
“Customer Discovery is a sales responsibility.” You are right, your colleagues from sales need to identify whether the customer and product are a fit.
The right goals
Problems your product solves
The right expectations
Sufficient success potential
But that’s not the end of the discovery. Because it does not answer the question about the education and training your customers need.
If you are not delivering a one-size-fits-all customer program or providing content and service randomly that’s something you need to figure out.
Your customers’ needs are defined by the gap between their status quo and their desired outcomes. What do your customers need to learn to
reduce employee turnover from 30% to 15% per year
complete 95% instead of 50% of client projects in time
double their conversion rates and/or reduce their sales cycles by 75%
reduce administrative work by 50%
That goes way beyond the information you get from the sales handoff. I haven’t seen a single sales team qualified to uncover that kind of information.
2. Success Plan Design
Without a proper discovery, creating a Customer Success Plan is redundant.
Because it’s the roadmap that outlines how customers close the gap between their status quo and their desired outcomes.
The problems they need to solve
The tasks they need to complete to solve their problems
The skills and knowledge they need to complete these tasks
The education and training they need to build these skills and knowledge
The underlying requirement, however, is to build subject expertise and an understanding of customer processes and journeys.
Before you can educate and train your customers you need to build excellence on the job on your own.
The success plan is built by taking “modules” from your service and content matrix and combining them according to your customers' needs.
You need to create CS plans for every customer segment assuming the segmentation is based on customer needs so you only need to “route” customers.
3. Program Design
Customer Success does not happen by accident, it’s engineered. That features the what, the why, and the how.
What are the services and content customers need/receive?
Why do they need it?
How can we properly design them?
Too many CS teams measure the effectiveness of their inputs by consumptions - opens, downloads, views, etc. But the only thing that matters is successful implementation.
Every single piece of content and every service you provide needs to be designed with a clear goal in mind. Building the skills and knowledge customers need to perform a specific task - analyzing employee turnover, eliminating scope creep, disqualifying bad-fit customers, etc.
Consequently, it needs to be measured according to that goal. If you want to achieve a high customer success rate, you need to build high-performing content and services.
4. Demonstrating value
Your customers don’t buy your product for its features and functions. It’s merely a tool to get what they really care about. At the forefront, they care about boosting some numbers - revenue, costs, productivity, etc.
You need to find out how they evaluate the ROI of your product and track customer value accordingly. Because that’s how they decide whether to renew, buy more, or cancel.
If they don’t know, it’s your responsibility to help them figure it out. Make qualified proposals for success metrics based on industry knowledge, common sense, or insights from their peers.
However, the numbers are merely a proxy for what they really care about and that is their related personal value. From sleeping better at night over growing your career to helping them turn their vision into reality.
If you can demonstrate value on a personal level you will win your customers' unwavering loyalty, create more growth, and win actual advocates.
5. Data Storytelling
Storytelling with data is not pulling a dozen dashboards together featuring superficial data from NPS to how often they log in.
It’s to understand the customer journey at a given point in time and act accordingly. Answering questions like
Why did Customer A churn? What led to their decision (the journey behind it)
Why is Customer B at risk? Where did things go south?
What actions did Customer C take? Does it fit their use case?
What made Customer D so successful? How can we replicate it with other customers?
If you are not able to create transparency about the customer journey you can only take actions randomly.
You need to understand the what and the why. This is why I dislike playbooks as they are built without context.
It’s not about being able to reduce churn to 0% (which is impossible anyway) or knowing every single detail about the customer.
It’s about increasing performance, predictability, and responsiveness.
6. Understanding Churn
As a CSM, you are not responsible for all customer churn. But it’s your responsibility to analyze why it’s happening and share your insights.
Understanding churn means not settling for proxy reasons like
the product was too expensive
a competitor has a better offer
and features are missing
If any of that was true, customers would not have purchased the product in the first place.
The only exceptions are features that have been promised during the acquisition but don’t exist.
Of course, ensuring the product’s capabilities are properly communicated before the acquisition is an important anti-churn measure.
Building competence in understanding churn means going beyond the surface and finding the root causes.
Aside from external reasons, all churn eventually comes down to failing to deliver enough value. You need to find out where and why it happened.
7. Effective Prioritization
There’s no badge of honor for working endless hours. Customer success is not an activity game.
Because 1000x zero is still zero. You need to make everything count and score the big points.
Working with the right customer and performing the right (value-adding) activities to create value for the customer and your company.
The right customers are those who are already profitable/possess high growth potential, high success potential, and are easy to work with.
Reduce the time you spend with bad-fit customers to a minimum. Politely show them the door if possible.
You can create more revenue growth from a high-quality customer than you are losing through bad-fit customer churn.
The right activities describe everything that adds value. Checking in with your customers has no value.
Because it has no agenda besides a “pulse check” and therefore no goal and outcome.
Replace it with scheduled follow-ups based on e.g. a customer webinar to ensure customers are progressing as projected.
Speaking of, does your webinar enable customers to complete specific tasks and solve their problems? If it does not it needs to be altered, replaced, or eliminated.
8. Analyzing performance
Your performance has nothing to do with the number of customer meetings, E-mails sent or items checked off a list.
It’s defined by your success rate in helping customers to achieve their desired outcomes.
That includes breaking down your activities and measuring their effectiveness. How many customers were able to successfully apply their learnings from
and 1:1 consulting sessions
You need to understand what works, what does not, and why. If you know what works and why you might able to replicate it somewhere else.
And well, if something does not work you need to identify the gaps in quantity or quality.
You don’t become a world-class CSM in a day, week, month or year.
You do so if you are continuously seeking your customers’ feedback and improving the content and services you provide.
9. Monetizing Value
Customer Success Teams are regularly viewed as a cost center. This is why they are often the first to suffer from “restructuring”. The way out is to create revenue.
Start all your commercial meetings with a recap of the customer value to ensure your customers are aware of the value they have gotten so far.
Don’t count on them being aware of it even when they are supposedly tracking it.
Don’t let the conversation turn into a price discussion. Don’t talk about features and functions.
Create scenarios projecting how your customers could further grow the value they can get from your product.
How to scale existing outcomes or how you can solve more/more valuable problems.
Ask your customers who they know that would benefit from working with you in the same way they do.
That’s not the same as collecting NPS scores or building advocacy programs. If you want to get real referrals and not likelihoods you need to ask for it.
Remember: You have to deliver value first because, after the initial sale, it’s the value that does all the selling.
Whenever you are ready, here’s how I can further help:
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