What made you decide to choose customer success over sales?
For me personally, the decision was easy. I moved from technical support to Customer Success. They combine in what we deliver called Customer Experience—transitioning a customer from pre-sales to post-sales and then a steady state followed by expansion. It is called the customer journey or roadmap. Influencing a ‘Promoter’ and a reference customer is a powerful and exciting feeling.
This roadmap is driving thru an effective success program. It is essential to ensure that the customer journey ties directly to the growth of the customer. ‘What is in it for me’ and ‘Why should I do it.’
Historically there were package software products where we shipped diskettes and CDs to the customer. Today there is instant gratification via SaaS and Cloud delivery methodologies. Selling both have changed in many ways, and yet not so much. Changed from potentially selling shelf-ware to more value-based selling. However, the sales comp structure is different. Sales are often compensated based on new logs and new revenue. They stay engaged (sometimes)if there is a continued source of revenue, aka Beachhead or a potential large reference client. In some ways, sales and customer acquisition become a quarterly agenda and tactical focus.
Customer Success, on the other hand, fills in this very important air gap. Success builds a long-term relationship with the customer. They map a customer’s journey from onboarding to go-live to additional use cases/verticals and adoption. Remember, Success in no way - Support. Support is ticket based reactive. Success is a program-based future roadmap for the customer. Success focuses on long-term relationships and building intrinsic value. Building and growing through nurturing a customer throughout their lifetime. In many ways, Success plays the most crucial role in the company because they retain customers and create value. The more value they create, the more sticker they are. The bottom line is that Wall Street is happy!
Nutshell, a fundamental company structure, can only be built with these three pillars, Sales/Success/Support.
I greatly respect the sales role, and CS and sales must work well together to drive successful customer outcomes. I have been in sales at various times throughout my career within multiple functions, be it expanding customers or working on net new logo acquisition. I have been honest about where I see my strengths and get my most energy from, and it's working with existing customers to make them wildly successful!
Personally, I love the AHA moments when customers achieve value and get to see the magic happen!
Building Long-Term Relationships: A Customer Success Manager (CSM) typically works with customers over the long term, helping them get the most out of a product or service after they've made a purchase. This can be appealing if you enjoy building and maintaining long-term relationships instead of the often shorter-term relationships in sales.
Problem-Solving: Customer success involves helping customers solve problems, understand features, and generally succeed with the product or service. If you're drawn to problem-solving and enjoy supporting others in achieving their goals, you might prefer customer success. If you love getting your hands dirty with Product, CS could be a place for you.
Customer Advocacy: As a CSM, you're often the voice of the customer within your company. If you're interested in understanding customer needs, advocating for them, and influencing product or service development to better meet those needs, customer success could be a good fit.
Predictability: While both roles face pressure, sales roles often have very clear, number-driven targets and can involve more unpredictability in terms of income (due to commission-based pay). Customer success roles can provide more predictability.
Post-Sale Focus: If you're interested in the post-sale part of the customer journey, including onboarding, product adoption, and renewal, you might find a career in customer success fulfilling.