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Hiring Customer Success Managers - Is Domain Experience Essential?

By Pie Recruitment

Customer Success is one of the fastest growing professions in the modern economy.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen Customer Success move from being a new, nice to have function to an essential division within B2B SaaS.

As the market has matured there is clear evidence to support the positive impact that Customer Success has on business performance. SaaS companies implementing CS well will see higher revenue, faster growth, plus many positive effects on customer happiness and reduced churn.

This makes for an interesting time when hiring for CSM’s. High demand = increased salaries + increased competition. Many companies are struggling to hire!

Some of these struggles are down to market conditions. Hiring is tough! If you are a B2B SaaS business in London, you are competing against so many other companies you need to have a compelling proposition to attract and retain great people.

There is a greater challenge hiring in Customer Success as many companies are failing to understand the landscape and adapt their expectations accordingly. There are many instances of companies looking for the perfect hire with domain experience and seeing little or no progress with their hiring plans.

The bad news is only considering X, Y or Z background is likely to be a show stopper.

I understand the reasoning behind wanting domain experience and the need to “hit the ground running”. I get it, particularly if you are an early stage business looking to buy in expertise.

However, while you are waiting for the perfect candidate to come along your competition has already hired, on-boarded and are thinking about their next recruit.

Change Focus

One of the most successful Customer Success leaders I know placed domain experience right at the bottom of their list. In fact, previous CSM experience was even near the bottom of the list.

If they could find someone with SaaS CSM experience within their domain, plus all the other key traits then that would be the golden goose. It happened once over multiple team builds!

Equally, there were instances of finding candidates with SaaS CSM experience within their domain who lacked the other qualities required. They didn’t make the hire.

They had spent time understanding the dynamics of the market, considering what other professions to consider, and what the most important characteristics of the right individual should be.

Some of these traits were:

  • Leadership - including thought leadership in their current profession
  • Relationship building skills – do they demonstrate an empathetic/consultative approach?
  • Tech-savvy - the ability to understand the product and become subject matter expert. Are they passionate about tech?
  • Data - ability to work with data to find problems and solutions
  • Problems solving skills – can they demonstrate a track record in this area and explain a clear process?
  • Grit - CSM’s can be faced with some tough situations. Can they handle our toughest client?

And a passion for customer success!

If the above traits stacked up and a candidate’s true passion for delivering exceptional customer experiences shone through, then these were deemed as far more important than domain experience.

This mindset and approach delivered diverse, high performing teams made up of ex Operations Managers, Project Managers, Product Managers, Management Consulting and even an ex-teacher: )

This may seem extreme and may not work for your business to this level; however, I’d encourage every hiring manager to step back and consider how they can broaden their pool of available talent in a tough market.

A road less travelled could lead to some fantastic hires and great results!

If you would like to find out more about hiring in Customer Success I'd love to chat ☎️-07850739178

Thanks : )

Alan Fecamp

#customersuccess #customersuccessjobs #SaaSjobs #customersuccessrecruiting #customersuccesshiring #b2bsaas

"A road less travelled could lead to some fantastic hires and great results!"

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