When Customer Success is in your blood, but SaaS isnt...

Zhenya Kuhne
Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
edited August 14 in CS Conversations

Hello all! Im a recovering small business owner, who is trying to break into the CS world. Prior to my experience of growing my retail business, I was an account sales executive in a publishing/media realm. While I was growing in entrepreneurial spectrum, my peers were getting into SaaS industries. CS comes as second nature to me. I ran my multi site retail through the eyes of a CSM more than anything.  Trust is at the forefront of relationships. Evangelizing your product is key, but knowing your customer and what is best suited for them is how your customers are going to continue using your platform, keep coming back over and over. How does one, whose CS runs through her veins, but SaaS CS experience is not as strong on her resume, gets past the initial doors? 

Comments

  • Alex Turkovic
    Alex Turkovic Member Posts: 61 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited June 2020

    I feel like the entrepreneurial spirit you carry with you - and the experience of being a business owner - are perfectly suited to entry into SaaS. 

    For me, the simple reason for it is this: SaaS represents the democratization of technology, once only reserved for large corporations, to the masses. For small businesses especially, gone are the days of needing to spend HUGE sums of money on eCommerce sites, web hosting, bookkeeping software, inventory tracking systems, email systems, etc. 

    All of those things are now readily available online via various SaaS solutions at relatively affordable and attainable prices. 

    I know you probably know this, but here is why it's important: Find a SaaS company that either you've used in your own business or one which aligns to a problem you faced as a business owner. Your deep knowledge of the problem and how software can solve that problem will put you miles ahead of others in terms of empathy for the client and the understanding of the business strategy behind the product!

    That's the story you should weave into your cover letters, LinkedIn profile, phone screens, interviews, Twitter messages, etc. The story of the entrepreneur, who went to work for the industry that helped her so much along the way. 

    An example might be: If you used SaaS software to setup an online store front (i.e. BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion, etc) - go see if they are hiring for CS roles (pssst...they are) and tell your story. 

    Happy to help if you'd like to chat.

  • Zhenya Kuhne
    Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    Thank you @Alex Turkovic. Encouraging, as I have been following that!

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

    SaaS experience is usually the gatekeeper for recruiters. I've seen many great referrals die on that requirement. You will either need to:

    1. bypass recruiting by having a hiring manager pull your application and have them request you be interviewed. or
    2. take on a role as a Sales Development Rep for SaaS experience.

    One of my colleagues took route 2 to success.

  • Alex Turkovic
    Alex Turkovic Member Posts: 61 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited June 2020

    Great point, @Kevin Mitchell Leonor 

  • Zhenya Kuhne
    Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    Thank you @Kevin Mitchell LeonorMy interviews have certainly come from scenario 1. I’m certainly open to (2) a sales position, where I feel sales leadership also cares about customers beyond just quota numbers. 

  • Paul Giovacchini
    Paul Giovacchini Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    Second Anniversary
    edited June 2020

    Hi Zhenya,

    Great question and it's one of the great things about the CSM world. I've worked with CSM and CSM leaders from all different walks of life (sales, product, support, finance, etc.). 

    The biggest blocker I see when people want to join the CSM org is getting disqualified by recruiters for not having the right "keywords" in their resume. It's not the recruiter's fault, they need a way to filter through hundreds of resumes to fill a couple of spots.

    I second what Alex suggested as well. That is some great advice and you're already doing what I would suggest. A workaround to the recruiter filter is to be active in the community (like Gain, Grow, Retain) and reach out to CSM leaders on LinkedIn.

    I've also found that smaller companies (>100 employees) tend to value the entrepreneurial spirit over the standard set of CSM skills. Since they need to be scrappy, creative, and agile, those that know how to "get it done" and can work autonomously are highly sought after. 

    I hope this helps.

     

    Paul

     

  • Zhenya Kuhne
    Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    Thanks @Paul Giovacchini ! This group has already provided so much insight. I believe when I held my role as an AE, CSE was my primary role, vs what current work flow would suggest. Smaller companies are definitely relatable to me, or a company where it’s values and habits relate on a smaller feel.

  • Jeremy Owsley
    Jeremy Owsley Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    edited June 2020

    @Zhenya Kuhne    I have personal experience in the exact situation. I was a career Landscape Management Professional for ten years from when I was a young teenager until I was 24 and decided I had had enough. If you would like, I would be more than happy to share how I worked my way into the CS SaaS world and how you can position what you did in the past to CS now. 

  • Zhenya Kuhne
    Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    @Jeremy Owsley thank you! I’ll connect on Linkedin!

  • Kimberly Ross
    Kimberly Ross Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited July 2020

    Your entrepreneurial spirit, strong sales/retail business and CS experience will be appealing to a SaaS solutions provider. Those with the drive and ambition to learn, coupled with a background like yours will succeed well in most sales environments given the right training and support. Don't discount or short sell the value you bring to the table Zhenya!

  • Zhenya Kuhne
    Zhenya Kuhne Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited July 2020

    @Kimberly Ross thank you so much for such encouraging words. When I did the hiring for my company, I always looked for character first. Skills can be taught, character is another beast. So hoping I’ll find a company that will be looking for the same :)

  • Kimberly Ross
    Kimberly Ross Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited July 2020

    Exactly @Zhenya Kuhne If you have the time and can really investigate a few career opportunities, I am certain you will find a company which is the right fit. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and/or private message me with what region you are located and any particulars you are seeking. I would be happy to make an introduction if there are any people or organizations I know which might be a good fit for what you're seeking.