An interview with:
When advocating for budget with your peer in Finance, the data should speak for itself. Finance doesn’t care about your stories; you have to come with a work breakdown structure and capacity plan.
Here’s an overview on how to do that:
Map out the customer journey and the different customer experience tiers. You can’t break down the activities needed to meet those experiences until you get cross-functional alignment on what the desired customer experiences are. I’ve brought in a consultant twice to help us run the journey mapping session with Sales and Product people—other groups that are close to the customer.
Break down the activities, hours, skills, and roles needed to provide those experiences. For each experience, how many hours does a CSM devote to a single customer? How are they spending their time with customers—is it more strategic work, or project management work? The answer to those two questions will help inform what level of experience you need in each role (and then, the costs to pay them), and how many CSMs are needed.
Talk with the CSM team. This is an ongoing process, beginning before you create the plan and continuously as you grow the team: talk to the CSMs to see how they’re feeling in terms of workload. Are they stretched thin? Bored? The benchmark today is roughly 2M ARR per CSM, but that can vary widely by company and experience tiers.
Partner with Finance to work with you on the numbers. Bring all the data you’ve gathered to the Finance team to create a headcount and budget plan. This discussion is simply an exercise around data. Once you have a work breakdown structure and capacity plan, the math becomes obvious.
And a final note: People often talk about the difference between Customer Success and Sales—they say Sales has a methodology, they have funnels, the revenue engine is defined and mature... But Customer Success is no different. There are frameworks we can use in Customer Success for journey mapping, breaking down experience tiers, creating capacity plans, and measuring the velocity of how customers move from one phase to the next. I expect we’ll see more and more Customer Success leaders think this way in the next few years.
The top articles this week:
This week's newsletter features posts on:
- Lucidworks' CCO on Building Culture Around the Customer
- 9 Questions for Your First Head of Customer Success
- Marc Andreesen on Productivity, Goals, and Motivation
- Why Efficiency is Key to Scaling Customer Success
Lucidworks' CCO on Building Teams, Processes, and Culture Around the Customer
Jess Jurva, CCO at Lucidworks, shares the changes she made to help the Customer Excellence group provide world-class experiences—and how she grew her organization's prominence in the company as a whole.
9 Questions to Ask Candidates for Your First Head of Customer Success
A list of questions that can be used to understand how a candidate thinks about the role of a top Customer Success leader in a company. Two of my favorites include “How do you think Customer Success should work with the Sales and Product teams?” and “If we are on a tight budget, how should we staff the CS team?”
Marc Andreesen on Productivity, Goals, and Motivation
Here’s an interview with Marc Andreesen highlighting his perspective on a wide range of topics. I found the section on “process, outcomes, and bets” especially interesting: “The craft of investing [or in many cases, strategic decision making] is a process of separating process and outcome.”
Why Efficiency, Not Just Effectiveness, is Key to Scaling Customer Success
Nicole Rashied, Customer Success Manager at Intercom, with 5 tips to increase efficiency in Customer Success (or “getting customers to their desired outcome without wasting effort or resources”). Among the list, she suggests “streamlining the pre-sale to post-sale handoff” and “focus on providing solutions, not explaining features.”