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.
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.
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!””