How to Hire a Proactive CSM

By Kristen Hayer

Much of the recent discussion in the customer success community has centered on transforming teams from reactive to proactive. Proactive work (building relationships, quarterly business reviews, uncovering opportunities) is the main reason for having a customer success team in the first place. After all, most companies also have support or service teams who handle inbound questions from customers.

If becoming more proactive is an initiative for your customer success team, start by making sure your new hires are compatible with your vision. Here are 5 questions you should ask to determine whether your next customer success candidate is proactive:

Are they proactive through the hiring process?

One of the easiest things you can do to ensure that your next CSM is proactive is to observe how they handle the hiring process. Have they done their homework on your company? Do they ask great questions during interviews? Proactive people take steps to make sure they know about the companies they interview with, and have the answers they need. A thank you note or email not only indicates that they take initiative, but also shows you how they will interact with your customers.

Have they served in a proactive role before?

It’s also important to ask about the kind of work your candidate has done in the past. If they have always been in reactive roles, it is going to be hard for them to change. Look for prior experience that includes activities like uncovering opportunities, performing account reviews, or managing cross-functional projects. Tasks like this require initiative, and are a strong indicator that the candidate will take a proactive approach with your clients.

Did they work while going to school?

People who hustle – working while in school or having a side project while working full time – are people who understand how to be proactive in their own lives. They are more likely to take this approach with customers, and will often bring creative ideas on customer engagement to the table. Candidates who are former entrepreneurs or worked in food service or retail usually make fantastic customer success managers.

Do they participate in a competitive activity?

People who are competitive need to be proactive in order to train for their chosen activity. The skills they employ to keep themselves in great shape, practice on a regular basis, and continually push themselves are the same skills they will use to plan an approach to a challenging customer, always improve their work, and proactively engage with new clients. Ask about the candidate’s hobbies, and look for people who like to run, dance or play sports competitively.

Do they set goals and achieve them?

Setting goals, sticking to a plan, and achieving those goals indicates that a candidate takes initiative in their own life. These skills will help them set goals with your customers to help them achieve their desired outcomes. Seek out candidates who set a goal and achieved the results they wanted in their personal or professional life, and then ask them how they approached that challenge. You’re looking for a clear and consistent goal-setting strategy.

Proactive CSMs will transform your customer success team from a reactive service group to a strategic team that actively helps your customers stick with you and grow. Hiring for a proactive personality from the beginning is one of the best ways to make sure your team performs at its peak.

Need help planning the hiring process for your next CSM? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CSM hiring kit, tailored to your company and team. Kits include a model of your ideal CSM, a job description designed to send the right candidates your way, and interview questions to help you find your top candidate. Check out our website for more information and additional services –