If you’re an early stage B2B SaaS business, then hiring a Customer Success professional will no doubt be firmly fixed on your agenda.
You’ll already know that establishing a dedicated Customer Success team is a compulsory investment if you’re looking to retain customers over the long-term and benefit from compounding growth and reduced acquisition costs.
If you’re serious about delivering value to your customers, you’ll need a dedicated team who can proactively increase customer satisfaction, retention, and expansion revenue.
If you’re thinking that way, then you’re in great company!
There has been exceptional growth in companies looking to build dedicated CS teams in the UK over the last two years. Run a search on LinkedIn or other job board’s and you’ll get thousands of results returned. And these are just the advertised roles!
I spend a lot of my time working with Founders and C-level Executives, helping them understand the market, advising on hiring timelines and goals, and helping define what type of candidates they should be aiming for and can reasonably expect.
In my experience, making that first crucial CS hire can be exceptionally challenging and often gets misjudged.
Firstly, it’s normal for hiring managers to get the timings wrong.
As with all positions, it’s better to hire before you’re underwater and urgently need someone. That means bringing on your first CSM before churn and expansion revenue are an issue. This has led to the mantra that Customer Success is a single-digit hire.
It’s daunting to consider bringing in an expensive recruit when your MRR is relatively low; however, deciding to hire when you’ve reached critical mass will lead to rushed and ultimately poor hiring decisions.
It will take time to refine the exact requirement for your business, figure out how to attract those candidates, run a process and secure the candidate.
Founders will naturally be super-passionate about their products and underestimate the competitive dynamic of the candidate market in London.
There are thousands of B2B SaaS companies in London competing with one another, and Customer Success is the biggest growth area, bar none!
It will take time to search out the right profile of candidate with the right type of product knowledge, and importantly passion!
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a candidate in situ in under eight weeks. In fact, it’s more likely to be nearer twelve weeks if you are hiring at a senior level.
Who to Hire?
In my opinion, the ideal hire would be a Senior CSM or CSM who can get hands-on with customers and provide great value as soon as possible.
It’s easy to assume that you should jump in with a VP of Customer Success to build a team when in reality someone with that level of experience is unlikely to want to go back to day to day interaction with clients.
Ideally, you’ll be able to find a candidate that has the potential to progress into leadership but is hands-on in their current role.
This would appeal to both sides – the candidate gets the carrot of progression and the exciting prospect of scaling a team, and the client gets a highly capable, experienced operator.
Plus, they will be more affordable!
The skill-set they need to have will largely depend on the complexities of your domain and your product, and the types of challenges they will be helping clients with.
We often get asked if it’s essential for a candidate to have previous Customer Success experience. It can help but it isn’t essential, and the majority of candidates move into CS from Sales or Account Management, as well as areas such as Product Management, Consulting, and Engineering.
I wrote a more expansive article on suitable backgrounds here -
In summary, taking a realistic view of the market with respect to timescales and backgrounds will help you navigate what is a crucial hire.
If you would like to discuss the Customer Success recruitment market get in touch –
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a Customer Success Manager in situ in under eight weeks