Advice on how to get promoted from a CSM to Senior CSM
We’ve all wanted to gain a promotion, and the opportunities are sometimes few and far between; especially if you work for a smaller start-up. Flat hierarchy, limited HR budgets and constant juggling of daily tasks can make openings limited. Be sure then to be in the best place possible when opportunity knocks. Based on my experience of being a manager in global CS teams for a number of years, I cover a number of points I think will help you in getting a promotion.
I’ve seen this mindset a lot. Just because you have been at a company or in a role for a certain amount of time, this does not mean you are due a promotion. Yes, you would expect to move up the ladder the longer you’re in a role, but this is because your experience and skills develop, not just because the years have gone by.
Concentrate on your behaviour and skills rather than the calendar.
You need to be an expert in both your industry but also on your software. Make sure you not only fully understand your software, but make sure you also fully understand the sector you work in and that of your client. Reading newsletters from your clients industry is a very easy method to get into their world. Can you become the Subject Matter Expert for a given feature or part of your system?
It’s always important you understand the difference between a CSM and a Senior CSM or Customer Success Director. A naive view is believing it’s having a deeper understanding of the entire technology, but this is far from the case (does your MD know everything about the platform?). Ask your manager or HR for the job description of the role you would like to be promoted to and be sure to take not of the desired skills and experience. Work on where you have gaps. Also take time to observe your colleagues who are already in that role.
You’ll no doubt have heard this cliche plenty of times; but it’s true. For example, if you see a number of clients are complaining about some feature in the platform, you could just sit back and watch the support team handle the incoming queries. The better thing to do would be to take control of the situation and suggest running a webinar for a short training session. Another example might be if you feel you are spending too much time with smaller MRR clients, why not offer to work on developing a Tech Touch process, which takes advantage of data signals and triggers to automate more of your tasks.
Everything you do as a CSM should benefit your clients. If they have a technical issue, make sure you are dogged in your efforts to get it resolved. Whilst your support and tech teams work on the issue, make sure you’re keeping your client updated in what’s happening. That means communicating with them even if there’s no further development. It’s also key to keep your management team updated as well. Make sure you show you are fully on top of the situation. Your ultimate goal is to be making the client successful. This is how you will become a Trusted Advisor in their eyes. Always be on their side.
This goes both internally and with your client. Are there parts of your platform that you don’t understand or have had little exposure to? Then ask the Product team or a colleague of you could get some additional training. And speaking of training, be involved. You might not be the most outgoing person, but be sure to ask for clarification on things you don’t understand. If there are team exercises be active in the discussions and don’t be afraid to nominate yourself as the spokesperson to present back to the group.
You no doubt already have a wealth of experience in your job, so make sure you are passing this around your team. Look for opportunities to coach the new starters in the team, or perhaps run a Lunch & Learn workshop for your Sales team on the sector experience you have.
And last but certainly not least, to succeed it helps to have a genuine interest in your job and your clients. It’s not always enough to just tick off a bunch of skills, sometimes you need to go the extra step and to do that it usually helps if you have passion and interesting in what you do. Clients and managers love it when they can feel your enthusiasm.
If you would like more details on increasing your promotion chances, please provide your email as we’re thinking of developing a short course to focus on this.
Simon has over 10 years helping clients achieve their goals through the use of software. Having previously lead Customer Success teams in London, Europe and New York City, Simon now owns Kupr Consulting working with B2B SaaS companies to improve their Customer Success teams and processes.
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