What do you do when a customer's executive sponsor won't engage with your CSM?

Alex Hornbuckle
Alex Hornbuckle Member Posts: 9 Contributor
edited October 2023 in CS Org Conversations

Without fail, there will be customers where executives are hesitant to engage.

There are a myriad of reasons for them to not engage that do not reflect on your team's executive presence.  They could be looking for their direct report to manage the partnership, or they may not fully understand the type of value that you can create for them. 

This is when outreach from you, as a senior leader, is needed to drive home the importance of their involvement and input on your partnership.  Aligning with executives on partnership goals and overall expectations is the surest way to create a clear path to success for both your CSMs and their respective teams. 


  • WillowMoellering
    WillowMoellering Member, CS Leader Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited April 2020

    A key is having a defined Playbook for lack of Executive engagement.  This playbook should contain the path to engage from the CSM level, and a path for internal escalation.  

    Within the path for escalation, I like to have my CSMs ghost write an email for the executive to use when engaging with the Customer's Leadership, and 1 pager that the CSM needs to fill out to provide our executive with Customer Health, Communication Cadence, Customer Profile and Usage Trends.  

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Expert
    Photogenic First Anniversary 5 Insightfuls 5 Likes
    edited April 2020

    Exec sponsors are almost always involved when the buying decision is made. So it's important to engage them with CS early. If you can facilitate an initial introduction during the sale or sales to cs transition. Best done by the sales rep who has built up a trust relationship. 

  • David Jackson
    David Jackson Member Posts: 36 Expert
    First Comment
    edited April 2020

    If I see this problem, I always look at the involvement of CS in the sales process and the expectations set of a DM.  Not many companies are brave enough to tell a DM what is expected of them, let alone say no to a deal if they won't commit .... but should they?

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Comment
    edited April 2020

    That's 3 very actionable items 

    A playbook

    An email through the leader

    An account status summary.

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

    Two things. Ask the AE or my main stakeholder about their decision making process to understand just how much the executive sponsor is involved. Sometimes the main stakeholder holds the keys and the executive sponsor is just a rubber stamp.

    Second, I engage my own executive leadership. A director writing a director or a VP writing to a VP has more leverage and value and often opens up the dialogue. Then, any communication to their executive sponsor will have my leadership CC'd. Both executives gain a golf buddy, I gain a channel to the executive.

  • Nils Vinje
    Nils Vinje Member Posts: 4 Seeker
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited April 2020

    I think you have to get creative, here are some ideas...

    1. Engage an executive at your company to connect. You may or may not already have a relationship at that level.
    2. Create a 1-pager that summarizes your progress to date, value delivered and any roadblocks. 
    3. Deliver the 1-pager in a creative way - via FedEx, Courier, Singing Telegram (kidding, but maybe not). This may not work in current times but when offices are back in business, it will.
    4. Record a video summarizing the 1-pager - keep it short and to the point.
    5. Send schwag or coffee or donuts - something to get their attention with a nice note.
    6. Send a hand-written letter. Nobody gets many of these anymore.
    7. Challenge your team to each come up with 5 ideas - no matter how off the wall they are.
  • Andreas Knoefel
    Andreas Knoefel Member Posts: 74 Expert
    First Comment
    edited May 2020

    I have the same playbook! 

    You can't ask a customer executive to invest time if they don't have a counterpart at your company who does the same. And the way to pique their interest is only on ROI.