When a business buyer makes an initial purchase from a seller, it’s only the start of the value exchange between the two. Most of the mutual value accrues over time as the customer benefits and both continues and expands purchasing.
Consequently, more companies are shifting responsibility for ongoing customer care and growth from an account manager to a customer success manager (CSM). The CSM title was almost unheard of a decade ago. But, in a 2019 survey of high-tech companies conducted by our consulting firm, ZS, more than 40% of 109 respondents reported having CSMs. And a LinkedIn survey identified customer success manager as the second most promising sales job for 2019, behind enterprise account executive.
As their ranks swell, CSMs face a multi-faceted balancing act. They straddle the gap between service and sales, between company interest and customer interest, and between product expertise and customer insight. When done right, CSMs are a powerful growth engine. Too often, however, customers perceive CSMs to be more interested in making sales than in driving their success. Inconsistency with the role’s title creates customer dissonance and distrust, threatening renewal and an expansion of the relationship.