CS vs Account Management

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Jared Orr
Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
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edited July 2020 in Metrics & Analytics

With Customer Success on the rise, do you think the term "account management" will soon be replaced entirely with "customer success"? 

Jared Orr

Customer Success Whisperer

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  • Matt Vadala
    Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
    edited July 2020
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    I've feared something like this happening. I believe Customer Success thrives in being the go-between for the many pillars of SaaS, rather than the spearhead for acquiring revenues as AMs have been typically known for. I believe that this shift can eventually lead to minimizing the ability for those in the role to embrace cross-functionality and instead embrace quotas for contract signings and new business.

     

    I'm very curious to see what others think here as well...

  • Brian LaFaille
    Brian LaFaille Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited July 2020
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    I've seen a lot of AM departments morph into customer success departments. In some instances there is a lot of overlap. You're building long, lasting relationships, providing value to customers through engaging content, and tailoring your product or service for that business's needs. Where the teams diverge is around commercials. 

    I've started to see a few CS models that include an account management function that acts as a post-sales expansion role that allows AEs to continue focusing on new business. I don't think the term or department is dead, but I think the role of Account Management will morph and change in the next ten years as more customer success departments rise in prominence. 

  • Kristi Faltorusso
    Kristi Faltorusso Member Posts: 45 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    When I joined my company it was to transition an account management team to transform it into a Customer Success organization. 

    I now treat Customer Success as a noun and Account Management as a verb. Our team is here to help manage the partnership and is responsible for the proactive orchestration of conversations and resources to support the customer. My CS team is responsible for the commercial activities in the partnership as well so we are all encompassing. 

  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Couldn’t agree more with both @Brian LaFaille and @Kristi Faltorusso. I think the discerning factor will be whether company leadership is bought into the Customer Success team handling commercial activities or not. If so, it’ll look like Kristi’s model. If not, the Sales team will likely continue to have AM roles responsible for up-sells and cross-sells.

    I’ve done it both ways and am a strong proponent for CS teams having commercial skills to handle revenue growth from existing customers and renewals.

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    In product companies, indeed the role "Account Management" does seem to be falling out of favor, as CS takes on certain responsibilities ARR growth, besides driving the customer value, product adoption, advocacy and retention. The sticking point though is the ownership of commercial responsibilities pertaining to contract and revenue management, something which I think CSMs are averse (rightfully, most times) to take on. These commercial responsibilities can negatively impact the intended positions we want the CSMs to be seen in - that of a trusted partner and advisor. In my org, we have Sales executing the commercial functions.

  • Jared Orr
    Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Love this @Kristi Faltorusso! Something else I've seen is that "account management" is usually linked to a more sales-driven (new revenue) role. Have you seen this? Just curious. 

    Jared Orr

    Customer Success Whisperer

  • Archive User
    Archive User Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020
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    Agree @Kristi Faltorusso My experience is that it very challenging to influence any decisions made at the ELT level if CS doesn't own a quantifiable metric that is easily tied to Company outcomes (top-line or bottom-line).  As most companies are sales-driven, AM relationship with sales is better understood and accepted.  CS can get marginalized and without influence will receive very little investment.

  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
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    edited October 2020
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    Interesting thoughts on this thread.  The Customer Success role is clearly on the rise, and companies are working hard to transition their strictly 'account manager" teams into a blend of Customer Success. 

    However, I am doubtful that Customer Success will overtake Account Management.   What is more likely to happen is Account Management will become Customer Success who will then slowly turn BACK into Account Management.  Sales numbers will always be the bright shiny object to investors (rightfully so).  So I think Customer Success needs to be comfortable with periodically pulling people back in to seeing the value created from a CS team. 

    Accounts Management teams dressed as Customer Success teams are a real threat to how customers will perceive the value of the role.


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    Ben Bunting Director of Expansion
    Director of Retention
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    Original Message:
    Sent: 07-21-2020 17:48
    From: Jared Orr
    Subject: CS vs Account Management

    With Customer Success on the rise, do you think the term "account management" will soon be replaced entirely with "customer success"?