Customer Success: The Unsung Hero in Your Commercial Conversations

Customer success managers (CSMs) are highly skilled relationship finessers. They advocate for the customer throughout the life of the project or engagement, overseeing everything from adoption to utilization to problem solving.

Yet, sellers get the credit for starting the customer relationship and, in a traditional business model, sales re-enters the picture for a renewal or expansion conversation. And once again, the applause goes to them.

Due to this split of responsibilities—sales at the beginning and at renewal-time—it’s easy for the business to overlook opportunities to bring customers even more value at critical moments in between these sales conversations. When your competitors advance, when the market shifts, or when technology reshapes your customer’s industry—who better than a CSM to understand the exact effect on the customer’s business?

Could your CSMs actually be the unsung heroes in your commercial conversations?

After all, their proximity to the customer gives them the unique ability to identify strategic needs and opportunities before anyone else in the business. And their earned relationship—built on trust over time—gives them the power to influence customers to stay and expand their relationship with you.

Today’s most competitive commercial organizations agree. That’s why they’re transforming the role of the CSM from “value overseer” to “value communicator.”

How much revenue and loyalty are you potentially losing during the “long middle” of the customer relationship? And what can you do to keep your customers out of the dreaded commercial messaging void?

collaborate cross-functionally to get the right data

Data helps you tell the right story to the right person at the right time—emphasis here on the word right.

Getting the right data is a three-step process:

  1. Gather – Work cross-functionally within your organization to pull together data from every possible source. No one individual has the total picture, but together, the view is much more complete.
  2. Organize – Break out, categorize, and label your data so that it’s easy to shuffle and reshuffle for different views, questions, and problems.
  3. Interpret – Collaborate with your teammates to analyze and translate the data into compelling stories that customers need to hear.

A customer intelligence platform to make this process easier, especially if your data comes from many different and disconnected sources.

facilitate commercial conversations

Typically, CSMs are averse to selling. They see their job as maximizing the investment customers have already made, not convincing them to buy more.

But commercial conversations don’t have to be sales-y. Customer success managers can reframe “commercial” to mean making my customers more commercially savvy and strategic. A commercially savvy customer understands their industry and the market. They watch their competitors and emerging players. And they have a bias toward action. When your customers are more commercially savvy, they’re more likely to feel loyal and continue to work with you.

In the shift from “value overseer” to “value communicator,” CSMs can:

  • Watch for opportunities to educate their customers.
  • Bring awareness to shifting industry pressures.
  • Highlight emerging opportunities.

Most critically, your CSMs can share how you’re already helping customers solve new challenges as they arise. CSMs can get ahead of your competitors’ disruptive messaging and reinforce that your customers have made the best vendor decision. They won’t need to look elsewhere.

communicate value at a higher elevation

During business reviews, it’s easy for CSMs to get in the weeds with low-level project metrics, like how many users are on the platform, or how many trainings have been completed. But those aren’t the metrics that decision makers care about. Executive decision makers are flying above the treetops in the realm of strategic initiatives.

To capture and hold executive attention, you can use a simple framework called the Triple Metric to report on more strategic, executive-level metrics and articulate value at that higher elevation.

Want to learn how to maximize the potential of CSMs in your commercial conversations—while strengthening and protecting customer relationships? Watch this webinar replay to learn how to turn disorganized customer data into meaningful insights and more productive customer conversations.

Abby Kerr

Customer Marketing Manager

Abby Kerr, Customer Marketing Manager, specializes in campaigns, content, and communities for customers at Corporate Visions. With a background in education, small business ownership, and extensive experience in the enterprise B2B agency world, Abby is well-versed in the language of business decision makers.