The next role.

Options
Chris Guzek
Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
First Anniversary
edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

So while I am happy where I am currently, I have made it my goal to move upward in my career in the next two years. 
While looking at open opportunities I wondered how many would be open for a candidate that was not internal. 
What factors or experiences put a outside candidate in a good position to lead a customer success team? 
I know, I know, success, track record all matter :). I am more curious about the tactical pieces. 
Love to hear people’s thoughts. 
 

Tagged:

Comments

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Connect with 4-5 companies that you are interested in working for. Build solid relationships with those leaders. Talk to them about what you need to be ready. This is the approach I would take. I have three that are already solid places to open that discussion. However, I think I have different goals right now.

  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks for the input. I am certainly trying to network more not just for that but to expand my knowledge base and hear the challenges others face. 

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    The culture in Customer Success is not a members only culture yet. So most positions are posted and hired externally.

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Chris Guzek 

    Great question. What I've observed is that leadership teams tend to look externally when there is a perceived gap in leadership qualities or readiness for leadership with the existing talent.  OR there is a specific top-down goal the company needs to achieve that requires a specific area of expertise.  

    The biggest concern I've seen when looking externally is culture fit. Bringing in someone who checks all the boxes but doesn't get along with the existing cross-functional leadership team or doesn't earn the respect of the existing CS org is a recipe for a quick exit.

    I hope that helps.  

     

  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    It absolutely does. Appreciate the insight. Culture is a huge factor when teams need to focus and ride the highs and lows. 

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

    With everything that's going on, the companies I've spoken to aren't looking to hire externally (generally speaking). The main reason for hiring externally is that you absolutely fit their criteria, and even then, with budgets getting small.

    Good news is that SaaS companies are recovering and seeing more value in CS!

    I would connect with people using LinkedIn who are on the team that you want to work for. Understand how they like it, key challenges, etc...and when you gather all the data, reach out to the leader of the team! That will set you up for success if you tailor your approach!!

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

    I think one thing to think long and hard about is what does career progression look like to you. We need to get away from this mindset that the next step in a CSMs career is a leader. We need a progression structure internally that rewards great individual contributors.

    That said, in my experience CS leadership is still generally hired externally. Unless you have natural progression into the role which you would generally know about, then its going to be external.

  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited July 2020
    Options

    One area of focus should be your ability to hire and build great teams.  CSMs come from all different types of work and places.  As CS leaders we should be recruiting and interviewing as a high priority (regardless of open positions).  If you have a steady stream of people ready to come work for you and perform... you're an amazing asset. 

  • Paul Mason
    Paul Mason Member Posts: 8 Contributor
    First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020
    Options

    This may be obvious but the best way I have seen to break into CS leadership as an external candidate is to look to early-stage companies that are either looking to start their CS team or only have a very junior CS team that needs leadership. Leverage the heck out of your network and LinkedIn from an informational perspective to find these opportunities as they are typically hidden.

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Paul Mason Great point and I would add one other specific scenario, which is later-stage companies looking to transition from Support and/or "Renewal Reps" to Customer Success.  Essentially the "reactive to proactive" transition.  

  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Appreciate the feedback. I am already in a leadership role but more looking to progress further. 

  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Agreed. I have always approached building teams like making a cake. Right ingredients amazing results.