What common mistakes do you see most often with Success Plans?

Jeff Breunsbach
Jeff Breunsbach HLAdmin, Member Posts: 277 Gain Grow Retain Staff
Third Anniversary 100 Comments Photogenic GGR Blogger 2022
edited October 23 in CS Org Conversations

We're going into a session where we will be talking to a number of CS Leaders and CSMs about Success Plans. 

I'm curious from this group - what are some of the common mistakes you run across when implementing success plans?  Both from a leader perspective and from a CSM perspective.


@Alex Farmer @Sara Bochino @Matt Myszkowski @Kristi Faltorusso @Alex Tran @Will Pagden @Sheryl Hawk @Willow Moellering 


  • Alex Tran
    Alex Tran Member Posts: 38 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Assuming you know what your customers' goals are to begin with. Not all personas fit into Goal X.


    Get to know your customers intimately and ask deep questions :)

  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    @Jeff Breunsbach   Some mistakes revolve around not doing your homework before talking to the customer about the joint success plan.  You need to make sure you have a handle on the discussions/commitments that have been made in the sales cycle, and ensure you (your team) puts some good thought of how your solution/software/etc., can help the customer/client further their own business.  Be ready to facilitate the discussion, and not put all the burden on the customer to come up with all the content.

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
    100 Comments Second Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020

    A whole new can of worms on this one @Jeff Breunsbach ....

    • That there are multiple “plans” in place for each customer facing team member...Success plan from the CSM, account plan from sales, implementation plan from consulting - there should only ever be one plan!
    • Agree with @Alex Tran but I would build on it. A plan must include the goals/outcomes otherwise your plan is just a series of tactics not working towards anything specific.
    • The plan (whatever you want to call it) should be continuously reviewed, amended and updated - it is a fluid document.
    • The customer must buy into it and be held accountable for their part and contribution.
  • Jeremy Donaldson
    Jeremy Donaldson Member Posts: 71 Expert
    Second Anniversary 5 Comments Office Hours Host 2022
    edited July 2020

    100% agree with @Matt Myszkowski

    I would add that organizations tend to over complicate Success Plans (SP) by requiring unnecessary or duplicate information that is often already found in their CRM or CS platform. A solid SP hones in on the really important information needed between the customer and the partner - joint objectives, metrics, owners, and next steps.


  • Manan Joshi
    Manan Joshi Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    edited July 2020

    My two cents -

    1. CSMs often tend to not define the purpose and value of having a mutual success plan.
    2. A mutual success plan should be created keeping strategic imperatives in mind. Don't let it become a medium to talk about technical problems.
  • Alex Farmer
    Alex Farmer Member Posts: 63 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic GGR Blogger 2021
    edited July 2020

    Similar to other answers, but my thoughts:

    • Not sharing with the customer: many companies track this info internally but miss a critical step of validating with customer.
    • Not creating different templates per outcome:  If your technology delivers multiple outcomes or has different modules, I suggest having different templates per outcome.  Possibly also different templates per segment - low touch get a lighter touch success plan for example.
    • Not sharing in an easy contextualized way: Please please please don't host on a word doc.  Unless maybe you are a CSM for Microsoft.  Put it in your customer community to provide a personalized community experience per customer.  Or better yet host it in your software.
  • Monica Trivedi
    Monica Trivedi Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    Second Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    I also agree with the above  To add, Common mistakes I have seen: 

    • Only taking into account Short term goals versus both short and long. 
    • Often the plan is created with the main POC at the customer site and should be created with multiple stakeholders so all criteria of success are identified and tracked.  
    • Many times plans are created and not updated and ultimately it becomes something that was created before Onboarding when it fact it should be the main driver of your discussions with the customer. 
    • Sometimes we are so focused on getting things done that we don’t celebrate what has been accomplished. Let’s celebrate the wins with out customers and share those success plan achievements.  
  • Kristi Faltorusso
    Kristi Faltorusso Member Posts: 45 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Success Plans that fail are ones that are not co-managed with the customer. These have to be mutual plans where both the customer and the CSM have agreed to executing. These cannot be one sided. Also, you need to set clear expectations with the customer upfront. 

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 22 Thought Leader
    Third Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020

    Common mistakes that I've seen with Success Plans:

    1. (Mentioned already by many folks here) -- Not sharing, collaborating and co-managing with the customer. We use quip to collaborate real-time with our customers on JSP.
    2. Turning a Success plan into a project plan (some key milestones for customer's initiatives, impactful events, and lifecycle events should be there but not a 200 line plan)
    3. Casual (or no) mention of "outcomes" &  "expected value" without accompanying metrics
    4. Casual (or no) mention of task owners for the tasks that will drive us towards the outcome (many CSMs hesitate to talk about accountability)
    5. Not adopting or aligning with customer's language
  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 169 Expert
    100 Comments Third Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020

    From a leader perspective, I’ve seen that the hasn’t been enough weight given to the customer perspective and what would drive success for the customer. Sometimes they company’s focus (over the customer’s) take precedence and becomes the overarching driver for the success plan.

  • Jason Noble
    Jason Noble Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    Second Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Very similar to the other comments from everyone, the biggest two for me are not sharing them with your customers and not getting their buy-in and confirmation, and making them too complex to start with - start simple for the first ones!

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020

    I’m late to this party and many comments will echo my thoughts.

    Its critical you involve all key stakeholders. I remember speaking with a decision maker once, brand new into a company who tore the success plan the CSM had created to bits as it wasn’t inline with his goals. 

    It is so important we fully understand what are customers goals are, and having joint success plans opens up visibility and ties both sides into the vision. 

  • Sara Bochino
    Sara Bochino Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020

    @Jeff Breunsbach everything that was mentioned above and oftentimes they are viewed as one and done. CSM's need to continue to revisit these and ensure business alignment. It shouldn't just be a one time exercise, its ongoing and shared. 

  • Archive User
    Archive User Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020

    100% @Matt MyszkowskiThe success plan must be shared and collaborated on with all Internal and Customer Stakeholders involved.  Accountability must be shared and escalation paths (internal and on Customer side) must be communicated and documented.  Progress against the Success Plan should form a piece of every QBR with any gaps identified and action steps created to close.

  • David Jackson
    David Jackson Member Posts: 38 Expert
    edited July 2020

     @Matt Myszkowski one plan is unlikely while ever we have fragmented organisations.  I would also add that we need a thread [part of the plan, not a separate plan :) ] for each role.