Tell us something fun about yourself.
When I was in the 2nd grade, growing up in a small town surrounded by farmland, I was surprised and excited to find out that I actually lived in the same state as Hollywood and Disneyland. Who knew?!
What book, podcast, or influencer do you recommend checking out?
I’m all about Britt Andreatta, Ph.D. right now. She connects neuroscience to business in a way that’s easy to understand and relate to. I’m reading Wired to Grow – it’s about how neuroscience impacts how we learn. I finished Wired to Resist – that’s about change management, a MUST read for every CSM and Onboarding professional! Next up is Wired to Connect – it’s about how we work in teams and collaborate. AMAZING stuff!
What is the one tech tool you can't live without?
Zoom. I’m on it all day long. Some folks get burned out on it. For me, it helps me feel connected to people. But I also try to book time to work solo and focus.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as a new CSM?
Manage up. Manage up in your accounts. Manage up in your company. It’s key to your account strategy and it’s key to your career. When you manage up, they don’t need details, they just need to feel comfortable that you have a good handle on those details. Similar to how we need to put ourselves in our Customer’s shoes and think about what they need, when we’re managing up in our company and our accounts, we need to think about what Executives in our company and our Customer’s company need and where their focus is.
If you’re not sure what information they care about, ask them. If you don’t have a relationship with them yet, get insights from someone who does. And don’t forget to build relationships – they’re people too!
How can those looking to break into CS get started?
Take inventory of what you’ve done and compare it against the career you’re interested in pursuing. Do a strengths assessment (free one at high5test.com). Read The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook. Are your strengths and interests a match? If you don’t have all the experience, what can you do in the meantime to build that experience? If you have it under a different type of role, how can you translate that experience?
Network with people. Listen to podcasts, and attend webinars. Speak the language. Translate and refine your resume to highlight only the experience and skills that are related to CS. Even if you’re an incredible snow shoveler, unless you can relate it to CS, don’t include it on your resume no matter how proud of it you are. The hiring manager doesn’t care about your snow shoveling unless it is a SaaS product for snow shovelers.
What's next for Customer Success?
Scaling and data will continue to be important to understand and apply in customer-centric ways. But we need to get back to our roots as strategic post-sales revenue leaders.
We had cheap money for so long, organizations focused on growth at all costs and CS became gap fillers. We’re not gap fillers. We are not Support. Support is important, but it is literally a different group. CS is an integral part of the Land and Expand SaaS model.
Sales used to keep the customer relationship for the whole journey. That changed with SaaS. When you think about it, in SaaS, Sales is really "Pre-Sales" and CS is "Post-Sales". Subscription business lives and dies on Land and Expand. We’re the “Expand” in that phrase.
Expand is more complex than Land. There are a lot of things that go into Post-Sales. We are at the strategic intersection between the Customer and the Company. We need to own that. Revenue is a part of that because it’s always been a part of that. It’s not scary. It’s a natural outgrowth of being at that strategic intersection and understanding both the Customer and the Company. It’s exciting! Let’s do it!
What’s something you recently learned the hard way?
Managing up and communication. I keep re-learning the importance of those things in various ways. Rachel Provan shares a story about her manager telling her that they didn’t know what she did all day. I think that’s common.
I used to think I was using that to my advantage. I was independent and resourceful. But in the end, if you can get the tree to fall and your boss doesn’t hear it, it didn’t happen. Someone else throws a stick around and tells your boss, and they get the promotion. You felled a tree; they threw a stick. Doesn’t matter if folks don’t know about it. It’s the same with your Customer—if they don’t realize they received value, or don’t agree value was received, then it doesn’t matter. Same with business. You can offer services all day long, but if folks don’t know about it, you’re out of business.