Do all Customer Success roles require technical skills to be successful?


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Dear Insider

Dear Insider, do all Customer Success roles require technical skills to be successful?

This is a great question. A core competency for Customer Success Professionals is Technical Aptitude - being able to learn and understand technical things quickly and easily. Don’t confuse this with the skills required to develop a product or code, you just need to be able to understand the nuances of technology, especially if you are working for a software company. If you feel this is not a strength of yours, then consider that when looking for your next opportunity and stay away from very complex technology or software that you can’t really understand. At the end of the day, CSPs need to help their customers use technology for change management to achieve specific goals, if you cannot help them do this, neither you or your customers will be successful.

Pro-Tip: Do your research on the product in advance and read the job description thoroughly, if the role sounds very technical, this might not be a strong fit, but if you get an interview, ask a lot of thoughtful questions.

Dear Insider, how should a CSM get Sales and Success to align on a clean customer handoff? What’s the most difficult part of this process?

Getting Sales and Customer Success to partner together is so critical to the success of the business and more importantly your customers, but just like getting any two departments on the same page, it’s going to take the right orchestration. In previous roles, I’ve been successful when I’ve told stories through the lens of the customer, instead of trying to get the team to onboard with my priorities or initiatives, I’ve made it all about the customer and what they need to be successful.

My recommendation is to start with a top-down approach. As a leader I’ve always had success working with my leadership colleagues on these types of initiatives as they impact how both teams approach their work and responsibilities. I cannot go and tell the Sales team what to do, just like I would not want the Sales Leadership team telling my CS organization what to do. It’s a matter of aligning around the same goals and outcomes and once again, doing what is right for the customer.

If your leadership teams are not interested in making adjustments here, perhaps you can partner with an AE yourself and put together a new process that the two of you can roll out and then share the impact and results with the broader teams. This is a great way to drive impact while also showcasing your ability to be solutions-oriented, execute change management, and lead from the front.

Dear Insider, I am in the process to find my first CSM role and I want to ensure it's the right one. How do you differentiate a real CS Manager role, versus an only renewal-focused position?

It’s important to know that a lot more companies these days have Customer Success manage renewals and other commercial activities like expansion, upsell and cross-sell. That said, this should not be the sole focus of your role, just one component. There are some companies that also have a Renewal Manager or Account Manager role that are more focused on the commercial aspect of the partnership and will not execute some of the more notable CS motions.

The best way to know what the role entails is to do the following:

  1. Read and re-read the job description - Make sure you understand what is expected of the role, what you will do in the day-to-day
  2. Do your research - Reach out to a CSM in the role today and ask them to describe a day in the life
  3. Ask thoughtful questions - If you apply and are fortunate enough to get an interview, make sure to prepare thoughtful questions in advance; inquire about the size of the book you will manage, commercial responsibilities, expectations of the role and how you will be measured

I will tell you, even if you do all of the things I’ve recommended, roles change, priorities shift and the job you do today can look different tomorrow. Just do your best to understand the nuances and determine if it sounds like the role for you.


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