I’m seeing more and more ads in the US for “Customer Success Managers” at technology companies such as Salesforce.com, Birst and Citrix, to name only a few. This is partly just a change in nomenclature as I’m pretty sure these companies all used to have account managers, but there a different flavour to these ads. They’re less sales-orientated and more about the longer-term success for the client in their use of technology. This is an excellent development in the marketplace and a trend that will hopefully continue.
Why? Because technology companies used to be a little bit lazy about customer care. They could sell products that would support a client’s business for a couple of years at a time. The sales team would make a sale and think that they could rest easy, touching base with the client executives at infrequent intervals with the Support team interacting more regularly at the lower levels. Now, as the pace of change increases and every business adapts to its market at ever-faster rates, no product remains static. New features and functionality are demanded on a daily basis and new metrics are available through which a client can understand whether or not anyone is using the solution they’ve paid for. The client is more engaged than ever in their technology solution and as a result the solution provider has to stay in every conversation. It’s the only way to help clients adopt new ways of working and understand what they may need next.
This is the focus of these types of roles – not just selling but engaging, listening and advising at several different levels to prevent valuable clients from churning out of the business. If you’re not following this approach, you may keep the top of the sales funnel full but find that clients end up dropping out downstream.