We know better than most that hiring managers are time poor. You've got to make a new hire in your customer success team and when it comes to the job specification it's easy to rush. You know the score. Copy and paste a few important points, bang in a generic overview of the company and away you go it's time to ship your job spec over to the talent team to start attracting potential candidates. This article will explain why job specs are so important in attracting the best talent in the deeply competitive field of customer success and offer up some great examples from tech brands that are positioning themselves favourably in this space.
In the war for customer success talent it's time to eat your greens
Writing job specs is perceived by some to be a fairly dull task in the world of recruitment. But it's such an important part of the hiring process. This is your equivalent to a prime time TV advert the day before Black Friday. It's your first impression. Your chance to stand out from a crowded market place of SaaS vendors that are all looking to scale up their customer success functions with quality talent.
Given the variety of backgrounds and skill sets entering into the customer success arena it's also your chance to be a bit prescriptive around what you are really looking for rather than waste time trolling through resumes that miss the brief (that's currently only in your head). We regularly hear from customer success leaders that find for every 30-50 applicants they look at they might take around 2 to interview. Take the chance to set some barriers to entry in your job description - it will actually encourage the right candidates in this space.
Outside of candidate attraction and selling your role, taking the time to create a well thought through job specification also offers a number of other benefits to hiring managers. It's a great opportunity for managers to sit and really think about the scope of the role itself. What do we really want this individual to really be responsible for and own as part of the broader team structure? It also provides the successful candidate with an excellent terms of reference for what they will be responsible for in their role and help you with the next stage in their employee life cycle - setting clearly defined objectives.
So let's kick on with some great examples of areas to think about when creating a job spec for your next Customer Success Manager.
Tip #1: Be clear about the type of customer success function you are
Best practice example: Tableau Software
This is a great example of a customer success job spec that screams 'we've got a high level of maturity in this space'. They are even clear to point out the strategic nature of the role in the job title. To the candidate it's obvious you're not going to be joining an 'also ran' support function that's merely been re-branded as a customer success team.
Job title: Strategic Customer Success Manager
"The Strategic Customer Success Manager is senior-level role responsible for driving adoption of Tableau in a number of named accounts consisting of Tableau’s largest clients. Success of this role is defined by the customer deriving value from Tableau and renewing their subscription or maintenance. In addition, you will coordinate with the entire account team and help identify expansion opportunities."
It's pretty clear to the candidate right from the opening paragraph that this is a strategic function with clearly defined goals. The candidate can also immediately gleam that they are not going to be spread thin across 250 accounts. They are going to have the time and remit to be more proactive in their approach. It's also notable that customer success comes across as a team sport over at Tableau, as they refer to the importance of interaction across the entire account 'team'. Digging further into the job spec, the responsibilities are also aligned to what you'd expect to see in a strategic function that has the support of the business. All the key terms are there: value realisation, product advocacy, use-case understanding, documenting value, adoption metrics and more. This is a great example of how a CSM job spec can speak volumes for the maturity of the function. Bravo.
Tip #2: Show off your values
Best practice example: Box
As a high growth tech start up, you're probably used to being an attractive option to candidates on that basis alone. The challenge is that in the customer success talent market you're likely to be competing, pretty much exclusively, with other high growth SaaS software vendors. As such, the bar is raised in this space when trying to sell your brand. A good place to start is by showing off your core values.
Job title: Customer Success Manager
"Blow our customers minds. Make sure our customers are always wildly successful with Box.
Take Risks. Fail Fast. Ruthlessly prioritize and pull the plug when something is not working.
10X it. Strive for breakthrough vs incremental progress.
Be an owner. It's your company hold yourself accountable.
Be candid and assume good intent. Focus on getting to the through and not winning arguments.
Bring your whole self to work every day. Feel comfortable being who you truly are.
Make mum proud. Do right by your colleagues, customers and community."
In this instance with Box, you'd find it hard to source a better set of core values that align with the core motivations of a CSM. It's all about blowing the minds of customers. Owning it. Being candid and being yourself with customers. By having these core values front and centre, it says to the candidate 'this is a cultural environment where customer success can really thrive'. Great alignment.
Tip #3: Make it clear you invest in people
Best practice example: Experian
Given the range of entry points candidates are coming into the customer success discipline from, it's going to be important to invest in people. Why not make that abundantly clear in the job description. If you're a business that's investing in customer success and the people within it then don't keep it a secret.
Job title: Customer Success Manager
"We also work with our colleagues to understand their long-term career aspirations to ensure they have the career development and growth they need to achieve these goals. Through personalised career objectives and performance plans, we open up conversations on progression whether this is achieved through mentoring and coaching or classroom learning environments, we offer rewarding ways in which to learn."
Customer success may well still be an emerging career path and the opportunity to accelerate career growth through that function as it develops is going to be attractive for high potential candidates. Being clear from the outset that your business is committed to 'progression from within' is only going to incentivise high performers to apply.
Tip #4: Sell your business
Best practice example: Gainsight
There should be no company better than selling the benefits of their businesses and customer success function than Gainsight. After all, customer success is their core business. This could be considered the Mecca or North Star for customer success professionals. It's no surprise that they present the upside of the opportunity impeccably well.
Job title: Enterprise Customer Success Manager
"Why You’ll Love It Here
- Our Attitude: We’ve created a new industry from scratch, and we’re on the fast track!
- Our Leadership: We offer the leading tech solution for driving Customer Success.
- Our ROI: Reduce customer churn, increase up-sell, and improve customer satisfaction.
- Our Technology: Deep Salesforce.com hooks, predictive analytics, and a beautiful user interface.
- Our Impact: We help our customers make millions of dollars more per year.
- Our Clients: Big companies like Box, Adobe, Marketo, and many others.
- Our Team: Tech all-stars from Facebook, Box, and others (and top consulting firms like BCG and McKinsey!).
- Our Values: They are unique - Golden Rule, Success for All, Childlike Joy, Shoshin, and Stay Thirsty, My Friends
- Our Office: If you showed up one day, you might find anything from karaoke performances to mini-golf championships."
The merits of this job spec don't end with selling the benefits of the business. Gainsight are also really clear about the core qualities they are looking for from candidates including: strong leadership skills, executive presence, communication, passion for technology, the ability to work across cross functional teams and a bias for action.
Tip #5: Paint a clear picture of organisational design
Best practice example: CloudBees
Strong candidates will be keen to know more from the outset as to where the customer success function sits in the corporate hierarchy. They'll also been interested in getting a sense of the departments that it will align tightly to. So make that explicit in the job specification. CloudBees do this quite nicely here whist also leaving the distinct impression that customer success is an expanding team that's high on the list of organisational priorities.
Job title: Customer Success Manager
"As today’s clear leader in CI/CD, CloudBees is uniquely positioned to define and lead this new category and is expanding our Customer Success team in order to do so.
As a Customer Success Manager, you will be responsible for onboarding and training new CloudBees customers and prospects. Working closely with our Sales, Customer Engagement, and Professional Services team, you will use your strong communication skills and technical know-how to wow Corporate, Enterprise and Fortune 500 customers as you help them - for the first time - realize the value that CloudBees brings to their business."
As a little bonus ball, CloudBees also go on to write quite possibly the best diversity and inclusion statement that we've ever seen on a job spec. How often do you see companies leave it at 'we are an equal opportunities employer'? That's not the case at CloudBees. Diversity is clearly central to their strategy which is really refreshing to see. In a market where we hear lots about the impact of language putting off diverse candidates, this is a lovely bit of detail.
"At CloudBees, we truly believe that the more diverse we are, the better we serve our customers. A global community like Jenkins demands a global focus from CloudBees. Organizations with greater diversity—gender, racial, ethnic, and global—are stronger partners to their customers. Whether by creating more innovative products, or better understanding our worldwide customers, or establishing a stronger cross-section of cultural leadership skills, diversity strengthens all aspects of the CloudBees organization.
In the technology industry, diversity creates a competitive advantage. CloudBees customers demand technologies from us that solve their software development, and therefore their business problems, so that they can better serve their own customers. CloudBees attributes much of its success to its worldwide work force and commitment to global diversity, which opens our proprietary software to innovative ideas from anywhere. Along the way, we have witnessed firsthand how employees, partners, and customers with diverse perspectives and experiences contribute to creative problem solving and better solutions for our customers and their businesses."
There are just a few of our top tips for writing a great job spec that CSM's will be able to engage with and relate to. If you're looking to scale your customer success function why not check out our latest report entitled: So you want to be successful in Customer Success?