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Customer Success: Consultant or Sales Person?

I remember one of the Customer visits a year ago was with a more mature customer who was very demanding and always pushing the limits of innovation within their own company. However, they were still struggling with internal issues of how to get to operational excellence and high productivity that would help them manage the company to profitability in the next few years. After a few hours together of discussing their challenges, we came up with some alternatives with a clear roadmap on how they could achieve their goals including ways to create the right tactical execution plans and monitor the progress and results more effectively.

The CEO’s comment was simple:

“I wish we had more Customer Success teams that provided the insights, guidance and tangible consulting advice that you and your team provide every time we meet.”

The one consistent message I have heard from all my customers over the last 20 years has been this same message. They gave advice, best practices, guidance, insights and clear alternatives, recommendations and roadmaps on how they can be more successful. Whether it is around the use of technology or just better ways for them to run their business or a clearer understanding of their market and competitive changes; customers love to work with partners and companies that add value to every conversation and meeting.

It is my recommendation that it is more advantageous to be a consultant than a sales person if you are focused on a customer success role. Customer Success is really no more than the ability to provide a customer with a clear roadmap that is an easy to follow step by step approach to getting the customer from where they are today to the vision that sales has sold them on. The customer needs Customer Success to show them how to utilize all the resources and technologies available through your company to deliver on their goals and objectives.

An effective Customer Success person is one that understands that a trusted advisor relationship is developed by creating a plan with each customer that shares valuable information and insights that helps them to execute on the roadmap and realize valuable outcomes that lead to hard ROIs on their investment. It builds a long term partnership and customer for life.

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