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3 Non-Negotiable Traits for your First Customer Success Manager

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.36.30 PMPart of the Customer Success Summit On-Demand Series
It’s commonly accepted that 80% of start-ups fail and the #1 culprit is having the wrong market fit. To be successful, start ups usually initially focus on hiring the right engineers and product developers so they can build the right product. This is important, but equally important is having the right people at the front lines bringing back feedback about what’s really resonates with your customers and what doesn’t so you can keep driving your company forward.

A self-proclaimed start-up junkie, Jen Benson, VP of Customer Success at NewsCred, has grown Customer Success functions at three different startups. In her session at Customer Success Summit she talked about the what to look for when hiring your first Customer Success Manager in order to drive success and create a company culture, both externally and internally.

Watch the full session from Customer Success Summit.

The 3 non-negotiable traits your first Customer Success Manager must have:

1. Don’t hire for customer service skills, hire for raw talent.

If you can find a person that has all the skills you need plus a background in Customer Success, congratulations! You’ve just found a very rare, purple unicorn. Most of the time these Customer Success professionals are built, not found. These talented individuals grow into excellent, empathetic employees who can then transfer into other roles throughout the company.  By leveraging what they’ve learned in Customers Success they can then use their cross-functionally to fuel other parts of the business; including product, R&D, sales, marketing, operations, etc.

2. Don’t hire for well-rounded, hire for a high “give-a-damn factor.”

Your first Customer Success Managers need to innately want to win, to be successful and always be striving for the best for your customers. These people will have a history of excellence in their background, whether it’s on a sports team in college or in a previous role. They also need to be as obsessed with the company’s success as the founders are. This comes in handy when customer accounts are transferred from the CEO to Customer Success without any drop in enthusiasm.

3. Don’t hire for proven process followers, hire for cowboys who thrive in chaos and solve problems creatively.

When you’re in a start-up there are generally very few process and guidelines for people to follow. You want to hire Customer Success Managers who thrive in this environment. Hire for talented individuals that possess the ability to be agile, move quickly, and fail fast, without taking it personally.

See all of the sessions from Customer Success Summit here: www.customersuccesssummit.com

Amanda Saunders

I'm the Customer and Content Marketing Manager at Totango. I work with Customer Success heroes to help tell stories and share best practices that can be leveraged by others in our community. Previously, I worked at Citrix helping customer find new ways to work and live better.

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