Metrics for individual CSMs

Laurie Barlev
Laurie Barlev Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
10 Comments Second Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper
edited April 2021 in Metrics & Analytics
My team's goals revolve around retention and advocacy. I know what the team is being measured on, however, I am looking for individual CSM metrics that roll up to the team metrics and that drive behavior that we need to have. In other words, I know that to develop a relationship, my CSMs have to be having calls with their clients regularly. While I can use a metric around meetings, what I really want is to measure useful, productive, valuable for the client meetings and not just meetings for the sake of hitting a metric.

Given this, I was hoping I could hear from you all on what you use to measure individual performance of your CSMs. If I count meetings, what do I complement that with, if anything, to drive the desired behavior. 


Laurie Barlev

Founder, Barlev Success

[email protected]


  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited April 2021

    Hi @Laurie , I'm so glad to see your post/question! It's not a "given" that CSMs should be responsible for strengthen account/customer relationships, nor are intermediate "process-metrics" as you describe well-adopted. That said, I'm not sure you just want meetings as your intermediate outcome. We usually look for stronger signs of life than just holding a meeting, due to the unclarity on who actually attended and how valuable the meeting was for them. We also like the phrase "trust but verify" because someone's intuition of sentiment could be totally off... better to use a well-crated questionnaire to directly ask the customer what they perceive to be working well and what needs to be improved, instead of asking the CSM to guess what the customer thinks and why...

    Therefore, instead of asking for the CSM's assessment, we focus the CSM's job as asking their customers to complete a short assessment questionnaire, and then to drive the right follow-up plays based on what those people say. Let me explain...

    Critically, there is no "customer" in B2B -- instead there are a group of people (decision makers, budget holders, influencers, champions, etc) that come and go, changing jobs and bringing new challenges ("change") with them. It's critical that the CSM knows who ALL the *right* contacts are in the account. From there, it's critical that the CSM *knows* the sentiment of all those stakeholders in each of their accounts, along with the "why" behind their sentiment so the right plays can be executed.

    We know that people are more likely to respond to assessment questionnaires when there's a relationship. I'm not using the word "surveys" -- this word must be STRICKEN from our B2B jargon because surveys are worthless in B2B (start with the lack of a sampling strategy when census is more appropriate). But if you ask the right customer contacts (your denominator for response rates) to assess their experience and success contribution from your products and services because you are committed to following up to address what they tell you, then we KNOW that they are highly likely to participate (btw, an EBR is the perfect place to address feedback in high-touch accounts). In fact, we see 80%+ response rates all the time with this sort of approach. Not only does that provide clearly trustworthy and business-representative data, but we also know that silent accounts -- those accounts that won't engage with your' help me help you" message -- can be up to 14x more likely to churn. Makes sense, no?

    I hope you're still with me here... by focusing on "engagement" as collecting actual customer feedback, straight from the horse's mouth, you (as the leader) now have the opportunity to look at the forest AND the trees:

    • The individual trees = individual accounts. How well do we know the right stakeholder contacts in the account? Has the CSM kept those contacts up to date in SFDC (we have cool ways of measuring that, btw, if you want a double-click on this point) ?  Are those contacts engaged and actually responding to the CSMs request for feedback?  Is the CSM following up in the right way based on that feedback? Is the sentiment improving over time? Looking at account participation and the trend over time makes it super-easy to see which CSMs are in the relationship business, and which need help.
    • The forest =  the aggregation of data across accounts, segments, and personae. In order to scale, it's critical to identify those recurring patterns that keep creating detractors for your firm (i.e. those things that keep CSMs burning the midnight oil). Those should be addressed systemically. In other words, while the CSM focuses one-account-at-a-time, you can drive systemic change (improvement) by bringing trustworthy insights to your colleagues around the business, such as Product, Support, Services, Marketing and Sales).

    NOW, getting to the heart of your question: putting it all together means you can now focus the CSMs on the behaviors you want them to execute, i.e. create strong relationships with all of the right contacts by remediating any issues and by
    1. Understanding the stakeholder team (the first metric you need to watch... it's a critical one and see below for a whitepaper that explains more on HOW)
    2. Getting your stakeholders to provide actionable feedback (remember... it's not a survey! And YES you can and should shoot for 40-50%+ response rates at minimum... if the CSM is doing their job right then you'll see it be MUCH higher, which relationships and engagement!)
    3. Engaging promoter/advocates to drive expansion
    4. Converting detractors by addressing their concerns (i.e. demonstrating that you are listening / that you care)

    Here are 2 resources that will provide more detail on the approach I've describe, and the whitepaper also includes *proven* templates that have driven the 80%+ response rates I described: (including method for understanding depth of account relationships)

     Let's keep the discussion going – any questions / concerns I can address?


  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 168 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Insightfuls 25 Likes
    edited April 2021
    Great question, @Laurie Barlev, and your concern about 'malicious compliance' is a good one. 

    Some thoughts:

    First, kudos on measuring a factor that leads to a result. Ongoing contact is indeed essential to building relationships, so your approach is spot on. And you definitely must 'inspect what you expect.'

    Keep in mind, however, that whenever you measure an individual, you're actually measuring that person + at least two other factors. This isn't intuitively obvious because it's so easy to stratify data by individual, but statistical tools are actually required to correctly characterize the contributions of any one factor (e.g. people). This is why managing people 'by the numbers' is a fundamentally flawed concept--the only time it really applies is when an individual performs at a level at least +/- 2 standard deviations away from the mean. In that case, there's a less than 5% chance the results are due to something other than the individual. So while feedback and accountability do influence behaviors, we get far more value out of measuring the overall process.

    Which leads to another point: your goal is to lead people and improve the process. I suggest you talk through the metrics with your team and engage them in boosting results. There's a danger to simply copying what others do, and I suspect very quickly you'll come up with complementary measures that are appropriate for your business. The approach @Steve Bernstein describes, especially around QBRs, is very helpful, however, you may have other types of ongoing contact where quality matters as well. If your team understands where you're going and the end goal, their ideas and commitment to the task can be very beneficial. 

    Last, I strongly recommend adopting continuous improvement methods such as Lean Six Sigma. At the end of the day, the goal challenging all of us is to reduce churn and increase installed base revenue. Systematically uncovering and addressing the 'root causes' that lead to these results (including how your Customer Success builds and grows relationships) are essential for improving business performance. Once again, using metrics carefully and correctly, and engaging your team and other teams in that effort, are the essential ingredients. 

    Happy to chat more if you'd like: [email protected]


  • Marcus Sparks
    Marcus Sparks Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    GGR Blogger 2021
    edited April 2021
    Hi Laurie - here is a Performance-based metric scheme that could be useful to you.  Very specific to driving right behavior around a bonus payout (monthly or quarterly). This is early stage CSM org where you need to "protect this house" and get renewals in order. The next phase would be to consider CSM incentive comp and/or managed ARR comp depending on commercial/non-commercial role.




    Max Payout

    Renewal confirmation

    90 days in advance of renewal date


     $       500.00

    On-time renewal

    Yes/No by renewal date


     $       312.50

    VOC contribution

    Monthly submission to VOC program


     $       312.50

    Admin compliance

    CRM weekly entry and maintenance


     $       125.00




     $   1,250.00

    Bonus paid monthly based on previous month's metrics (reps love monthly payouts…)

  • Jarren Pinchuck
    Jarren Pinchuck Member Posts: 38 Expert
    edited February 2022

    @Steve Bernstein this post is gold. Thanks for sharing.

    You mentioned you have cool ways for how CSMs keep the data up to date. Can you share any insights on that?

  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited February 2022
    Hi @Jarren Pinchuck -- So glad you asked about measurement around "How well do we know the right stakeholder contacts in the account? Has the CSM kept those contacts up to date in SFDC." I think the best resource is this whitepaper, which not only provides examples of the process supported by visualizations of the CRM data but also includes detailed templates and an example case study:

    To supplement this, there's a simple process we call Active Recruiting to engage the right contacts in the account. Description of that is at
    (about halfway down from the top of the article).

    I hope this helps...??  Appreciate if you let me know and/or let me know where I can provide more assistance.
  • Jarren Pinchuck
    Jarren Pinchuck Member Posts: 38 Expert
    edited February 2022
    Thanks Steve, really helpful!