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Comments(17)

  • Brandon Beall

    April 30, 2014

    I love this article. One question I have is if CSMs do not have a quota, is there a salesperson that’s present that would upsell clients? CSMs act as consultants but then who keeps the lights on?

    • Ellis Luk

      May 2, 2014

      Hey Brandon – from my discussions with other CS folks, it seems that after identifying the right upsell opportunity, they usually pass the ball back over to sales. That said, although the majority say no quota, there are still some who get additional compensation based on revenue from the existing user base.

      I heard once before that your customers aren’t paying for the product but rather the result of the product. It think keeping the lights on is a company-wide effort…or you can find some VCs who can lend a helping hand 😉

  • Brandon Beall

    April 30, 2014

    I love this article. One question I have is if CSMs do not have a quota, is there a salesperson that’s present that would upsell clients? CSMs act as consultants but then who keeps the lights on?

    • Ellis Luk

      May 2, 2014

      Hey Brandon – from my discussions with other CS folks, it seems that after identifying the right upsell opportunity, they usually pass the ball back over to sales. That said, although the majority say no quota, there are still some who get additional compensation based on revenue from the existing user base.

      I heard once before that your customers aren’t paying for the product but rather the result of the product. It think keeping the lights on is a company-wide effort…or you can find some VCs who can lend a helping hand 😉

  • Ed Powers

    May 1, 2014

    This is a fascinating debate, isn’t it? From a practical standpoint, it’s easier for executives to think of employees as either revenue producing or cost incurring–when CSMs have a quota, they’re the former, and if not, they’re the latter. It’s tougher to financially justify the non-quota CSM model. Increasing expenses to create more successful customers is a non-starter UNLESS it can be tied to the company’s own financial gain. The reason is simple. Executives are rewarded for THEIR revenue and cost performance, not THEIR CUSTOMER’s revenue and cost performance. Those advocating for CSMs as a purely service role have a higher burden of proof to show the ROI. On the flip side, it is possible for CSMs to perform their “trusted consultant” role AND uncover sales opportunities to hand off to AMs. This is more easily justified and all it takes is the right role definition, training, metrics, and management reinforcement to make it work.

    • Ellis Luk

      May 2, 2014

      Yep, at the end of the day, it sounds like a tightly-knit and cohesive team will make these back and forth flows flow much smoother. After all, no matter how many touchpoints you have with the customer, they still see you as ONE entity.

    • Greg Mueller

      June 14, 2017

      Executives aren’t rewarded for their customers’ performance? Isn’t that short-term thinking? Wouldn’t adding more value to your customers create more loyal customers? Customers who are evangelists and become free salespeople for your product? Wouldn’t this impact the company’s long-term performance?

      • Ed Powers

        June 15, 2017

        I agree. Ideally executives SHOULD be compensated on their customers’ performance and I also think doing so leads to better long-term performance. But it’s easier said than done. Unfortunately the harder it is to measure, the harder it is to justify. It may sound cynical, but the business world runs on the simplicity of top-line and bottom line, and thanks to Wall Street, short-term tends to trump long-term.

  • Ed Powers

    April 30, 2014

    This is a fascinating debate, isn’t it? From a practical standpoint, it’s easier for executives to think of employees as either revenue producing or cost incurring–when CSMs have a quota, they’re the former, and if not, they’re the latter. It’s tougher to financially justify the non-quota CSM model. Increasing expenses to create more successful customers is a non-starter UNLESS it can be tied to the company’s own financial gain. The reason is simple. Executives are rewarded for THEIR revenue and cost performance, not THEIR CUSTOMER’s revenue and cost performance. Those advocating for CSMs as a purely service role have a higher burden of proof to show the ROI. On the flip side, it is possible for CSMs to perform their “trusted consultant” role AND uncover sales opportunities to hand off to AMs. This is more easily justified and all it takes is the right role definition, training, metrics, and management reinforcement to make it work.

    • Ellis Luk

      May 2, 2014

      Yep, at the end of the day, it sounds like a tightly-knit and cohesive team will make these back and forth flows flow much smoother. After all, no matter how many touchpoints you have with the customer, they still see you as ONE entity.

  • danibel

    May 6, 2014

    I liked your post – till I got to the cliche “At the end of the day.” At the end of the day the sun goes down. At the end of the day I go to bed. At the end of the day is just another way to say “ultimately” or ‘finally.”

  • danibel

    May 6, 2014

    I liked your post – till I got to the cliche “At the end of the day.” At the end of the day the sun goes down. At the end of the day I go to bed. At the end of the day is just another way to say “ultimately” or ‘finally.”

  • Dale Lampson

    July 21, 2014

    Within the software sector, I think another dimension to the CSM vs. AM is the license model. Particularly in SaaS / Cloud firms with multiple product components, well-defined SCM roles are super helpful both to the customer and the vendor.

    Smart CSMs focus on soft consulting–the type that nudges the customer to expand use of what they’ve already purchased. The payback is much larger than from the traditional services sales/delivery model. Equally important, a CSM can help the customer find value in product features not yet purchased, and help the AM an sales teams avoid over/under selling.

    Thankfully, we’re moving away from the vendor cram-down sales model to incremental sales being driven by expanding value awareness. CSMs are key to long-term CLV vs. 90-day success goals.

  • Dale Lampson

    July 21, 2014

    Within the software sector, I think another dimension to the CSM vs. AM is the license model. Particularly in SaaS / Cloud firms with multiple product components, well-defined SCM roles are super helpful both to the customer and the vendor.

    Smart CSMs focus on soft consulting–the type that nudges the customer to expand use of what they’ve already purchased. The payback is much larger than from the traditional services sales/delivery model. Equally important, a CSM can help the customer find value in product features not yet purchased, and help the AM an sales teams avoid over/under selling.

    Thankfully, we’re moving away from the vendor cram-down sales model to incremental sales being driven by expanding value awareness. CSMs are key to long-term CLV vs. 90-day success goals.

  • Hative

    October 3, 2016

    The aim forte organization is the getting benefit for the long time. There with in organization different departments have different interest level. This may be the aim for marketing topee but management need for on word coming for same client. The aim leads for function.

  • Chris Welsh

    February 13, 2017

    I like the comment about how to keep the CSM out of the day to day support. I agree totally with this statement but this is difficult. Sometimes this is unavoidable. Sometimes you need to build up the credibility capital to earn the right to be proactive in your approach. This is a slippery slope. It is hard to defer to customer service if the customer know you can help.

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