What It Takes To Be A Great Customer Success Manager: A Guide

What It Takes To Be A Great Customer Success Manager

Once you’ve made a sale, you need to keep showing the customer your product is valuable. Your success depends entirely on the team promoting and maintaining your customer relationships. That’s where Customer Success Managers come in. Read on to discover why businesses need one, what they do and what it takes to become a great one.

In this article, we answer the questions:

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success is a long-term business strategy. It aims to ensure ongoing growth opportunities with existing customers by providing a positive customer experience.

This customer-centric selling approach helps to boost customer satisfaction, happiness and retention. Creating prime opportunities for upselling and cross-selling increases your overall customer loyalty (and revenue).

Many companies achieve this by realising customer value expectations. Then react accordingly by providing product adoption and reliable communication.

What is a Customer Success Manager?

Customer Success Managers (CSM) support clients transitioning from sales prospects to active buyers and users of a company’s products. They focus on maintaining customer loyalty and creating long-term trusted customer relationships.

In summary, a Customer Success Manager is a person who bridges the gap between sales and customer support. The purpose is to enhance product value, reduce customer churn, and maintain a broad and whole perspective on the support process.

However, it’s key to understand that the Customer Success Manager is not there to sell or provide tech support. They are there to ensure that the customer feels happy about their purchase; before, after, and throughout the product’s lifetime.

Customer Success Manager vs Account Manager: What’s the difference?

The primary purpose of an Account Manager is to encourage customers to continue spending with renewals, upsells, and cross-sales. In comparison, a Customer Success Manager’s purpose is to focus on customers’ goals and ensure your product helps them achieve their goals.

Customer Success Manager

Account Manager

Proactive: Plans and facilitates the customer journey.

Processes: Facilitates onboarding and product adoption.

Product Driven: Including product setup, assisting the customer in using the product and expanding its use to fit customer needs.

Focus: Customer retention and satisfaction.

Reactive: Responds to immediate customer issues.

Processes: Uses upselling and cross-selling techniques to remain relevant to the customer.

Target Driven: Ensures the flow of customers remains consistent.

Focus: Customer relationships, renewals, upsells and cross-sells.

Customer Success and Account Management: Different, But Complementary

In summary, while both functions have the same goal of creating and maintaining satisfied customers to keep revenue coming in, they have different purposes.

Account Managers handle renewals, upsells, cross-sales and identifying further opportunities for mutual gain. In comparison, Customer Success Managers focus on customers’ goals and ensure that the product helps them achieve their needs. 

Why Do Businesses Need a Customer Success Manager?

Customer Success Managers are there to unite sales and support teams. That’s because they are a part of every stage of the customer relationship and have a high-level view of the customer life cycle. The perspective of which they add value to customers and your company.


What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

Customer Success Managers primarily bridge the gap between sales and customer success teams. They support transitioning prospects into active users, often acting as a go-between with other departments within the company, such as marketing or product management.

Customer Success Manager Job Description


The role of the Customer Success or Client Success Manager is to unify your sales and success team. Because they’re part of many stages of the customer relationship, they have a high-level view of the customer lifecycle. They use this perspective to add value for your customers—and your company.

8 Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager

  • Bridge the gap between sales and customer support
  • Ensure customers get fast time-to-value
  • Keep clients engaged and using products
  • Build customer loyalty and reduce churn
  • Keep a “high-level view” of the entire support process
  • Advocate for customers
  • Foster a customer-centric team environment
  • Resolve customer issues

What Makes a Great Customer Success Manager?

Discover the traits of all great CSMs below:

Proactive Problem Resolution Skills

Great Customer Success Managers realise there’s a need to challenge prospects thinking to overcome problems or objections. Yet, they must do it positively. That’s why they push prospects to think in new, creative ways to understand the real value behind their offering or solution.

Product Knowledge

Great CSMs know the technical capabilities of their products and the value it delivers to meet customer needs inside and out. Without such a depth of product knowledge, it’s almost impossible to move customers along the lifecycle from usage to value actualisation to advocacy.

Don’t Take Customer Reactions Personally

All great Customer Success Managers understand that they need a consistently positive outlook to deal with frustrated, stressed, confused or just reluctant prospects. However, this is usually instinctive and can’t be taught.

Prioritise Customers’ Wellness Over Gains

Despite popular belief, CSMs are not just “yes” people to customers. More so, they’re not there to fix something that’s broken or robotically react to situations.

Instead, great CSMs prioritise their customer’s well-being over gains by understanding where customers are approaching problems, how they feel about specific milestones, and what they think about certain functionalities.

Final word: Great Customer Success Managers Never Stop Learning

Hone Essential Management Skills & Build High-Performance Sales Teams

A high-performing team is highly motivated. They take on challenges with an eagerness to exceed expectations, and they don’t blindly follow orders; they look to improve upon them.

Leading a team to new heights takes understanding your team’s unique strengths, how to navigate uncharted territory and how to inspire them to reach their maximum potential. It takes a talented leader to do that.

Join SOCO’s Management Mastery course, where we cover the essential management skills every leader needs to bring out the best of their team, whether they’re working in the office, at home, or in a blended environment.

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