A Needle In a Haystack - What to Look for When Hiring a CSM

By Amin Akbarpour

Given that Customer Success is a relatively new field, it should be no surprise to see the different backgrounds of current Customer Success Managers (CSMs). They're a ragtag group, with folks coming from all over the place to give this whole Customer Success thing a go. Diversity aside, there are certain skills that you always see in successful CSMs. If you're in hiring mode, here's what you should be looking for:

Attention to Detail

Whether it's dotting your i's and crossing your t's in a client meeting or making sure the internal CRM tool is completely up-to-date, attention to detail comes into play in just about every aspect of the job. Regardless of whether or not the role will be a high-touch position, there's a level of understanding the CSM must possess about their clients' business. If the role is high-touch or involves a small number of key clients, that requires even bigger emphasis on noting details within those accounts. 

Organization

As Evan Addams mentioned in a recent post, Customer Success must be able to speak all languages as they work with multiple departments internally on a regular basis. Balancing time between managing client relationships, ensuring successful consumption of your offering, and working on multiple internal projects can very easily turn into a jumbled mess. It's critical for a CSM to stay organized so they can give their undivided attention to each project. Without solid planning, the end result could be mismanaged client relationships and ill-prepared programs.

Great Follow-Up (Without the “Follow-Up”)

Take a moment and put yourself in your client's shoes. You have a full-time job and leverage multiple tools to be successful. You have a boss and a few vendors that support these tools you utilize. Perhaps you even have a team of folks you manage as well. Don't forget you also receive plenty of sales calls from vendor hopefuls. That's a lot of noise your CSMs have to cut through to get noticed. They need to be persistent and have great follow-up in order to constantly stay top of mind and get work done.

This leads to a second point. The phrases “follow-up” or “check-in” are not a part of a good CSM's vocabulary. These are hollow words that carry zero value and make it seem as if the rep is just checking a box on their to-do list. Successful CSMs always specify what's on the agenda and work to add value in each client interaction.  I wrote another article about this a few months ago.

Obviously, there are many other things to consider when evaluating candidates for an open CSM role, like industry knowledge, culture fit and technical skills. In addition to checking those boxes, make sure your hiring process includes opportunities to highlight your prospective CSM's attention to detail, organization and follow-up abilities. Speaking of which...

...I'm currently looking for an account manager to join my team at Persado. Feel free to reach out if you think you know the right person for the job! 

Need help finding that perfect CSM? The Success League helps companies develop a profile of the ideal CSM for their company that includes a job description and key interview questions.   www.TheSuccessLeague.io

Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit. After the aforementioned job hunt he accepted a position as an Account Manager for Persado. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who is grateful to still be able to call San Francisco his home.