CSM Chronicles: Opt for concise videos instead of lengthy QBRs

With Becca Rawson, CS Leader, Ex-Insight Partners, LinkedIn, PwC

In this episode, we have Becca Rawson, who has led customer success for global accounts at LinkedIn and held senior roles at Insight Partners and CyberGRX. 

In this conversation, Becca shares her insights on what it takes to succeed in CS, and advice and tips for the journey.

What does Customer Success mean to you? What does it truly take for a customer to be successful?

Successful customers typically have a real understanding of what they want to achieve and their desired outcomes. This allows them to align their efforts and resources and enter a partnership with a new company, knowing what the product does and doesn’t do. They are prepared upfront to be committed and have allocated resources like personnel, budget, and time to ensure they’re well-positioned to start their journey.  

And then, of course, there is effective implementation. What makes customers successful is well-orchestrated onboarding and a huge focus on training, change management, and creating buy-in across the organization. 

In addition, you want to ensure that the customer also partners effectively with your account team. Successful customers invest in the relationship with their account team by providing feedback and asking questions to optimize their use of the product.

What is one of the most difficult things about being a CSM? 

Balancing your portfolio of customers and juggling all the different companies you need to work with. Each customer has unique goals, challenges, and demands, so you need to be strong in prioritization and time management to support and exceed the expectations of all your customers at the same time.

Customers often appreciate a white-glove treatment. The challenge is that you can't service every customer the same way, so you need to find a balance that works for everyone.

Are there any things that you dread when you open up your calendar?

Admin work, mostly. 

Updating Salesforce, for example. I try to set aside time on Fridays to knock it all out at once. Of course, the best practice is logging notes right after a call while it's still fresh in your mind because you have more details. It's just that when you're in back-to-back meetings and constantly talking to customers or working internally, there never seem to be enough hours in the day.

Any tips, tricks, or hacks you'd like to share with fellow CSMs that helped you or your team?

For QBRs, consider sending customer leaders a Loom video with key slides, and offer to set up a follow-up time for questions or further discussion. Given that today’s business leaders have QBRs with multiple software products, you need to respect their calendars while still keeping them informed. 

Another piece of advice: Be flexible in your approach and adapt to how the customer prefers to communicate and work. If they're on Slack, you need to be on Slack; if they prefer email, then email it is. 

Can you recall a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty for a customer?

When I was at LinkedIn. I was responsible for managing our largest, most strategic accounts. One of the companies in my portfolio was a large blue-chip technology company. Our global sales team had executed a land-and-expand strategy, engaging with various groups across the company. We had about 60 contracts within this account but were struggling to elevate our conversations and relationships at the executive level. I saw this as an opportunity to get creative and take a leadership role in our customer engagement strategy. 

I created a highly customized customer success plan for this client. I listened to their earnings calls, read their 10-K filings, talked to executives, and gathered as much insight as possible about their business objectives. 

I shared this plan across the company, and it sparked conversations and created natural alignment points between marketing and sales. I presented the plan to the general managers across all business units and secured their buy-in.

The result was that our account team unified all contracts across siloed business units, gained the attention of senior leadership, secured an all-in deal that consolidated all sixty contracts, and drove five million dollars in incremental revenue. 

As a follow-up, I also created a template of the success plan and a playbook for the rest of the CS team to drive expansion and growth across other accounts.

What are some of the tools that you've used to make customers successful? 

Customer success platforms, especially for more established CS teams. They let you monitor customer health, track product adoption, and see performance metrics on a large scale. This visibility helps CSMs figure out where to focus their time and manage their accounts more effectively. 

A tool that I love is Matik. As a CSM, it often could take weeks to pull together a comprehensive business review. With Matik, it's as simple as pushing a button to get a deck that's 90% complete. You just need to polish it, ensure it's relevant, and massage the narrative. 

How do you feel about the role of AI in CSM workflows?

It’s definitely a big help when it comes to admin work – for summarizing customer interactions and sharing information internally with stakeholders and executive leadership. 

If CSMs aren't bogged down with putting notes into Salesforce or their CSP, they can focus on gaining more vertical knowledge and domain expertise 

Another way AI can make a difference is by enhancing the product itself. We want customers to be as self-sufficient as possible. AI can empower them to use the product more effectively. For instance, AI-driven assistants can help customers navigate the product, find information quickly, and use datasets more efficiently. 

If you were to wave a magic wand to do your job better or provide more value, what would it be?

Having a way to acquire vertical knowledge about a customer quickly. The more you know about the customer's industry, the more consultative and effective you can be as a CSM.

For instance, my background in management consulting at a Big Four firm helped me as a CSM. I could drive significant impact and build relationships more effectively because I understood how those firms operated.

For CSMs with diverse books of business not segmented by size or vertical, having a way to quickly gain vertical knowledge and understand where customers are coming from would be a huge advantage.

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