YES there are still JOBS to be filled in CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGEMENT

BUT… you cannot expect to just walk into a dozen or so interviews and select the position of your choice! If you want to secure your first position as a CSM but have been frustrated by applying for position after position without much success – perhaps even without any response – then I have GOOD NEWS for you… WE CAN HELP YOU!

Read on to find out more…

Making the Transition is Tough

Transitioning careers isn’t easy. It takes a certain amount of strength of will and determination on the part of the transitioner, and usually it also takes a lot of hard work and effort to get yourself into the position where you are likely to get hired in the new profession. This is because in almost all cases you will be up against other people who also want to get hired for the role you are applying for, and who are equally determined as you are to succeed in being selected for the position.

The problem is that at least some of those people will already have a Customer Success role on their résumés, and that means that by comparison with those candidates you are starting off with a handicap, because even though you may have accumulated a wide variety of relevant knowledge, skills and experience from the positions you have previously filled, you cannot actually say that you have done the job itself. And so from the recruiter’s perspective – and let’s be honest here, this is the only perspective worth concerning ourselves about – this means that selecting you for the role may represent a greater risk in their minds than selecting someone who has successfully held down a Customer Success Manager position already.

The Impact of COVID-19

We all know that with the COVID-19 pandemic from March onwards of this year the jobs market changed dramatically. Prior to CV19 we were seeing multi-digit increases in the numbers of new Customer Success Management positions being advertised, and a very healthy overall rise in the importance and prominence of Customer Success as an essential part of most businesses.

Just like every other type of job, CV19 has without a doubt caused the CS profession to take a hit, but here’s the key difference… the very nature of CV19 has itself given rise not to a decrease but in fact to an INCREASE in the importance of CUSTOMER RETENTION STRATEGIES for pretty much every single business on the planet. And this in turn means that Customer Success Management has in fact increased in importance. But don’t just take my word for it – I have the statistics to prove it.

Below are the responses from two recent surveys I conducted online via LinkedIn.

In Survey One you will see that over three quarters of CS professionals who responded stated that the level of importance of Customer Success has increased prior to CV19.

In Survey Two we learn not only this but that just over half of all companies that these CS professionals work for are either currently hiring additional CSMs or intend to do so within the next few months.

These surveys were conducted well post CV19 – in the summer of 2020 in fact. So whilst the overall jobs market may be very difficult indeed, there most definitely ARE Customer Success Management roles currently being offered – and indeed as someone with a lot of friends and acquaintances within the profession I see CSM jobs being advertised on a daily basis.

So this being the case, why is it especially difficult still for people with no previous experience of Customer Success Management to secure their first role?

The reason of course is that whilst there definitely are roles being advertised, there are also many more CSMs who were made redundant over the last few months who are applying for those roles than was previously the case. And of course it is far harder for someone without previous specific Customer Success Management experience to compete with these people.

 Can it be Done?

Yes indeed it can be done! Whilst it’s not accelerating at the same pace as before CV19, the Customer Success profession is still growing, and more and more Customer Success vacancies are being advertised, and of course recruiters have to fill these positions somehow. Since these recruiters cannot take existing CSMs and split them down the middle to make two CSMs from one, this means that a percentage of Customer Success Management positions have to be filled by candidates from outside the profession.

The skill is in preparing yourself to have the right knowledge and skills (and where possible experience as well) and in getting out there and finding the best positions as soon as they become available, and then in presenting yourself as one of those outside candidates in a way that catches the recruiters eye and helps them to see that although you may not have held a previous role with “Customer Success” in the title, you are still the type of person they are looking for.

Whilst it can be done, we are not saying it’s easy, and you have to go about things the right way. If you are looking for your first role as a CSM then you need to understand EXACTLY where the best jobs are being advertised, and what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. And you need to know EXACTLY how to grow your personal brand online, how to present yourself in your résumé and cover letter, and what to do and say at interview. In short, YOU NEED TO KNOW THE INSIDE INFORMATION.

Introducing the Transition To Customer Success Program

We have just launched a brand new training program aimed specifically at people who have previous customer facing experience from their work in other positions, and who now want to break into Customer Success Management.

This program is a highly practical, no nonsense training course that does not waste your time either with theoretical concepts or wishful thinking platitudes. Instead it gets straight to business, telling you precisely what you need to know to maximize your chances firstly of establishing your personal brand in the best possible light, secondly of finding the best possible jobs to apply for, thirdly of sending off the best possible application and finally of performing your best at interview. This program covers all of these areas across three training modules:

Module One: Preparing Yourself

Can an “Outsider” break in to Customer Success?

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

Social Media and Networking

Proactive Approaches to Job Hunting

Module Two: Applying for Positions

Creating Your Résumé

Writing a Cover Letter

Attending the Interview

Module Three: Maximizing Your Chances

Interview with a Recruitment Specialist

Interview with a Customer Success Leader

Role Play CSM Interview

In addition to the multiple hours of online training materials, our program also includes free résumé and cover letter templates aimed specifically at transitioners who need to emphasize their transferable knowledge skills and experience, and a free set of practice interview questions for the CSM role to help prepare you for your interviews.

Concluding Thoughts

Let me finish this article not with my own words but by quoting directly from Nick Mehta, the CEO of Gainsight in his recent podcast interview with me. In this interview Nick said the following:

“I think that if you look at COVID-19 overall, first we should recognize that it’s a terrible health crisis and economic crisis, and we are all very privileged to be working in the Technology industry rather than maybe people who are working in hospitality or retail who may be suffering more greatly. But I think that one of the things that it’s done for the world which is maybe good and bad, is that it’s kind of catapulted us into the future that we all knew was coming. Let me start outside of Customer Success. We all knew that eventually we’d be doing more food delivery, we knew eventually we’d be doing more telemedicine, we knew eventually we’d be doing more online education, right? And those areas have grown in the last five years but kind of at a steady pace, and all of a sudden it’s like that “eventually” is “now”. And I think that is true for Customer Success as well.

“With so many CEOs who kind of knew in the last few years as things moved to SaaS and Cloud, as they saw their customers getting more power, as sales relationships turned more into partnerships as you said, they knew they had to be more customer focused, but you know, they were busy driving sales and all these other things. And so it’s kind of catapulted the world into the future. And I will say there’s a few reasons why that’s happened.

Number one is that practically for a lot of companies their new sales slowed down and so there was less sales coming in and so people realised “whoa.. That’s what keeps our business afloat is our existing customers”, right? That’s what keeps us going, how we’re making payroll and paying our bills, right? And so that’s number one is the new business slowed down for a lot of businesses, and that’s shown the importance of [existing] customers.

Number two, the existing customers in this world actually needed more help. If you think about it, they were going through transitions – some customers were having way-offs or furloughs. They were having to create new products and you think about the average restaurant having to shift quickly to doing delivery, right? And so the customer needed more help.

So your new sales slowed down, your existing customers need more help, and [number three is that] I think a lot of CEOs figured out that “Even if I cannot sell more to those customers now, because maybe their budgets are tight,if I treat them well now they’re going to remember when things start coming back”. And as you know, right now things are starting to come back in certain regions, and what we are seeing is that companies who focused on their customers are getting to expand and grow.

“And then number four is that the companies that didn’t do this end up in this tough situation where the customers are looking at all their spending. They’re kind of looking at all their spending, rating it one to ten, one to a hundred, and they are saying “which of these things do we really need?” right? Every CFO is asking “do we really need this? Are we really getting value?” And so the vendors that weren’t doing this are suffering because their customers are like “you know what, we’re not getting value from this.”

So all these factors, both the positive of “hey if we focus on customers more, we’re going to grow over time” and the negative of “if we don’t they’re going to cut us out of their imperative because new sales slow down”. And I’ll just wrap this up by saying just as a real world example of how this shows up. As you know I love talking to customers, and just since COVID-19 I’ve probably talked to at least 500 companies maybe more. And one of my favorite stories was a CEO I emailed who was running about a 500 person company and he’s a friend of mine. And I said “Hey how is it going?” and he said “It’s challenging overall in the economy, but what’s good is that we are finally doing all the things in Customer Success that we always should have been doing but we never got around to. And it feels great!””