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What do customer success managers get wrong when trying to influence the C-Suite?

4 Answers
Meenal Shukla
Meenal Shukla
Gainsight Director of Customer SuccessAugust 31

Here are some common mistakes:

  1. Not Speaking Their Language: C-Suite executives are focused on high-level strategic goals like increasing revenue, reducing costs, expanding market share, etc. If you are not aligning your conversation or request with these strategic goals, you may not get their attention or support.

  2. Not Providing a Clear ROI: The C-Suite always wants to know the return on investment (ROI) for any resource allocation. If you are not able to clearly articulate the ROI of your request, it may be difficult to get their support.

  3. Lacking Data to Support the Request: Decisions at the C-Suite level are often data-driven. If you do not have solid data to support your request or proposal, it may not be considered seriously.

  4. Being Too Tactical: The C-Suite is focused on strategic issues, not tactical ones. If you are too focused on the tactical details and not enough on the strategic impact, you may not get their attention or support.

  5. Not Considering Other Priorities: The C-Suite has to consider the overall priorities of the organization. If your request does not align with these priorities, or if you have not considered the impact on other departments or initiatives, it may be difficult to get their support.

  6. Not Building Relationships: Building relationships with the C-Suite and other senior executives is crucial for influencing their decisions. If you have not invested time in building these relationships, it may be difficult to get their support when you need it.

  7. Not Being Clear and Concise: The C-Suite is usually very busy and does not have time for long, rambling presentations or requests. Be clear, concise, and to the point.

  8. Not Being Prepared: Being well-prepared for any interaction with the C-Suite is crucial. Make sure you have all the necessary data, have anticipated potential questions or objections, and have a well-thought-out proposal or request.

  9. Not Following Up: After making a request or proposal, it's important to follow up to address any additional questions or concerns and to keep the C-Suite informed on the progress of the initiative.

633 Views
Nicole Alrubaiy
Nicole Alrubaiy
Jellyfish Senior Vice President, Customer SuccessApril 9

It's important to understand the goals of your company and your part in them. Only then can you really have a well-thought and engaging interaction with a C-level leader regarding the business.

I sometimes see folks early in their career eager to share new ideas, but without the relevance to the business. We want ideas, but make sure they're tightly aligned to the goals of your organization and well-vetted. Get feedback on your idea from others and test it out in a small way if possible before going to the top.

First things first though: be really good at your job as a CSM. Manage your customers well, advocate for them within the business at your level, and make sure you're feeding accurate information back into the business. If you engage with executives on the specific accounts, make sure you're preparing them thoughtfully and thoroughly. This will create a strong brand for you and help get you the visibility you're seeking.

327 Views
John Brunkard
John Brunkard
Sitecore Vice President of Customer Success APJApril 29

Here are a few things that customer success managers (CSMs)may get wrong:

  1. Not speaking their language: C-suite executives typically have a different set of priorities and concerns than lower-level employees. CSMs may struggle to influence the C-suite if they are not able to speak in terms that are relevant to the executive's goals and concerns. Understand what matters to them.

  2. Focusing on product features / capabilities rather than business outcomes and value delivery: C-suite executives are often focused on outcomes and results, not the features of a particular product or service. CSMs may struggle to influence the C-suite if they are unable to clearly articulate the business outcomes and value that their product or service can deliver.

  3. Not understanding the customer's business: C-suite executives are responsible for the overall success of their business, and they expect their vendors and partners to understand their business and industry. CSMs may struggle to influence the C-suite if they are unable to demonstrate a deep understanding of the customer's business and the challenges they face.

  4. Not building the right relationships: C-suite executives are more likely to be influenced by individuals and companies that they trust and have a strong relationship with. CSMs may struggle to influence the C-suite if they have not invested in building relationships with the executives. CSMs can also leverage their own company executive team and build connections between them and the customers executives.

  5. Not being proactive: C-suite executives are busy and have many competing priorities. CSMs may struggle to influence the C-suite if they are not proactive in reaching out to the executives and demonstrating the value that they can deliver. Deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.

To effectively influence the C-suite at their customers, CSMs should focus on understanding the executive's priorities, articulating the business outcomes and value that their product or service can deliver, demonstrating a deep understanding of the customer's business, building strong relationships, and being proactive in their communication and outreach.

258 Views
Catherine Bassett
Catherine Bassett
Gorillas VP ProductMarch 9

What most customer success managers get wrong in my experience is not using the right data or framing the story specifically to the needs of the C-Suite. If you're looking for investment, make sure they understand fully what the investment is and how it will benefit the company and customers. However, don't overwhelm them with data, keep it to what is important to them. 

1. Make sure you have a full review of all of your key data points and be ready to answer follow up questions. Data makes decisions - especially when investment is involved.   

2. Make sure you know exactly what the most important metrics are to the C-level - North star? KPIs? Revenue? LTV? Focus on impacts to those. Don't show them everything, they'll just tune out. 

3. Try using stakeholder personas - do a persona for each exec - what matters for them, how do they like to receive information. Shape your story telling to those personas. 

416 Views
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