Suggestions on trying to land a Success role with no formal CSM experience in today's climate?

Matt Vadala
Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
edited August 14 in CS Conversations

Pre-COVID I had some prospects, but many distant hopes because my resume lacks true CSM or AM experience. I have the transferable skills, and have worked with many CSMs in my prior role. I was a de-facto CSM for a handful of accounts while providing technical support and guidance for all other enterprise accounts. 

Besides the chance post here and there of what I feel are valid CS points to live by in the social world for others to see and check out, possibly connect with me...what other suggestions would any of you in the current industry have?


To those I've already connected with: we've shared ideas. Can we share a conversation about possible prospects? I have posted in a number of areas arguing for technical experience for CSMs, which I am coming with. I can, and want to be the champion for an organization's champion account. 


  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 249 Expert
    100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited June 2020

    For you, I recommend looking into Ed Tech firms.

    Any reason you can't become a CSM in Blackbaud?

  • Matt Vadala
    Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
    edited June 2020

    No longer with Blackbaud

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 249 Expert
    100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited June 2020

    most CSMs I have met got into the field by applying for a CSM role in the field they already know well since it meets the requirement of being a trusted advisor or SME. So considering your background, look into ed tech.

  • Kate Current
    Kate Current Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    Do you have customer service experience? I'd promote that relating to customer advocacy and highlight any experience you have in strategic planning - even if that's planning a class reunion!

  • Matt Vadala
    Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
    edited June 2020

    @Kate Current Yes, all my prior experience is technical customer support. My most recent role I took on Success duties for a handful of accounts. I'm aware I have transferrable skills, and informal experience. As much as I try to promote that, typically the absence of full on CS duties, or AM experience, is what does me in. 


    To that end I'm asking for other networking strategies from this community for getting in with CS leaders or just getting into the industry. Once I'm in I'll be in more familiar territory.

  • Jeff Breunsbach
    Jeff Breunsbach HLAdmin, Member Posts: 277 Gain Grow Retain Staff
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Photogenic GGR Blogger 2022
    edited June 2020

    A couple of things to consider Matthew: 

    1. Target a few companies and go deep on research -- find several CSMs, Managers, Directors, VPs who are all in their customer success department. Connect on LinkedIn and start having meaningful engagements with those folks. 
    2. Look to start building your personal brand on LinkedIn - as you do research around customer success. Write up your notes, questions, etc. and post that on LinkedIn. There are plenty of examples of people out there building a personal brand AS they are go through the learning experience. 
    3. If you've been in Technical Customer Support before, maybe find a bridge between that and a CSM. Sometimes there are Technical Account Manager roles that may fit your current skillset and help you take on more account management responsibilities in the meantime. 
  • Mike Hirsch
    Mike Hirsch Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    Hey Matthew, I couldn't agree more with @Jeff Breunsbach's comment above; so, after you have done all that... 

    4) Re-read your resume and LinkedIn profile as a CSM hiring manager/CS recruiter, and make tweaks by highlighting relevant experience and adding key words/phrases like  the relevant experience and key words like, "Creating value for customers [insert how], "acted as a project sponsor [insert how]", "designed and deployed engagement strategies [insert how]", "supported effort of adoption [what and how]". 

    5) Write down the top 3-5 reasons you want to be a CSM and then make sure that anyone looking at your resume or LinkedIn profile for the first time will see that within 15 seconds, keep it simple

    6) Reach out to the social butterflies in your network and let them know what you're looking for. It doesn't matter if your Aunt is a hair stylist from Oklahoma, if she is a social butterflies she either knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who is working at the company you want to work for.

    Good luck!

  • Brian LaFaille
    Brian LaFaille Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited July 2020

    @Matthew Vadala - I've hired CSMs from many different backgrounds and I've found that the best CSMs exhibit certain behaviors and can come from any number of previous roles: Sales, Support, Success, Product. The behaviors I've seen across our best CSMs exhibit 4 characteristics: 

    • Lead with empathy 
    • Product / Domain expertise 
    • Excellent project manager 
    • Commercially aware 

    I write in more detail about these characteristics over here. Highlighting those behaviors from your existing role and combining that with the recommendations from this post might help. 


    Good luck. 

  • Matt Vadala
    Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
    edited July 2020

    Brian, thanks for this. It's a shame I couldn't have been one of those you've hired, as I champion these traits and are all highlighted in my resume. 

    Appreciate the help!

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    edited July 2020

    @Jeff Breunsbach @Matthew Vadala

    1 is the  easy piece and as Jeff says don't make it a huge list. 3-5 tops or you'll run into shiny object syndrome.  I'd love to understand what Jeff thinks deep research is and what a meaningful engagement is?   

    2.  Jeff, there are many people that have brands and certifications.  Which should show we understand the role.  As someone who did both support and lab services.  It comes down to Account Management, Selling, Leading an executive meeting and Relationships.  I think #1 qualifies for relationships.   

    3. Can be tough, as it can limit what your targets are (the role doesn't exist everywhere).  

  • Jared Orr
    Jared Orr Member Posts: 51 Expert
    Second Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020

    I second what @Brian LaFaille and @Jeff Breunsbach said. I'll add one more thing; I find the best CSM's are the ones who are proactive with just about everything they do. Make sure to add "Proactive" to your resume a few times and be proactive with your job search (many on this thread have given you great advice on how to do that). 

    Best of luck! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you would like. I'm always willing to help where I can. 


    Jared Orr

    Customer Success Whisperer