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Customer Success Management and Sales: A Question of Role and Relationship

That your Customer Success Management team is going to have significant connections with the Sales group and role is a given.  Where the lines are drawn however,  varies widely and the political infighting can be fierce.  The strategic decisions to be made are core-level, and absolutely require CEO leadership.  Without such direction, what’s likely to occur is a perpetuation of traditional on-premised perpetual license thinking — and increased losses from unnecessarily high churn rates.

The debate over the nature and process of the relationship between Sales and Customer Success Management comes up at some point in virtually every meeting of The CSM Forum I’ve done to date, in every webinar discussion, and in every conversation I have with individual CSM’s or teams from literally around the world.  The issues include:  Who is/should be responsible for revenue opportunities after the first subscription contract is signed?  Renewals is one question, but how about up-sells?  Cross-sells?  Sales of Implementation / Professional Services?  Training?  Beyond getting signatures on contracts, who is/should be responsible for analyzing customer interaction and financial data to determine ideal profitability profiles?  What management/performance metrics are appropriate, and for whom?

Who is or will be the authentic, accountable owner of the ongoing customer relationships of your SaaS B2B firm?  Your answer to that essential question will have a lot to do with how you (and your customers) perceive the product you are selling.  Is it a collection of technological features and functions, or a relationship over time?  Regardless of how you verbalize the response, the truth will be seen in your organizational structure and everyday process.

In The Customer Success Management Forum on LinkedIn

We’re also discussing this and related issues in the Customer Success Management Forum on LinkedIn.  For more information about The CSM Forum, click here [1] or use the link in the page footer below.

If you have specific questions to ask of me on this or other issues, please feel free to post them here [2], or schedule an Office Hours [3] session.