25 August 2022

The Timberseed Guide to CSM Roles

CSM Roles

Are you a strategic thinker with a knack for problem-solving? Does helping people get the very best out of a service motivate you to go above and beyond for every client? Are you a friendly, outgoing person with excellent interpersonal skills?

Then working alongside the innovative product and sales teams as a CSM (Customer Success Manager) at one of our world-class technology clients might be your newest – and most exciting – challenge yet.

At Timberseed, we know people.

It’s kind of our thing.

By using an exclusive database of dynamic SaaS-sales companies and selective top-level executive search firms, we place assertive, forward-thinking graduates and young professionals on behalf of our industry-leading clients.

We source candidates with the best raw talent and match them to their dream roles in some of the most pioneering sectors in the world, using our skills to help candidates thrive and develop.

Whether that’s by offering comprehensive CV workshops, tailored tips, and guidance that takes you to interviews and beyond, the team at Timberseed know how to make what’s special truly shine.

That’s where you come in.

Sound good? Get in touch with our friendly and dedicated team today to start your journey to a truly rewarding CSM role.

What Is a Customer Success Manager?

First, let’s cover the basics.

Within the exciting worlds of SaaS sales, a Customer Success Manager often becomes the most crucial point of contact for customers navigating your company’s professional services.

You might hear CSM go by a few names, usually ‘customer success specialist’ or ‘customer success executive’ – but, more often than not, they tend to translate into the same role depending on the business.

As a CSM, your main goal is to work within the wider sales team to guide clients on their buyer’s journey – taking them from the sales process right through to the support phase.

This role is responsible for ensuring clients know how to use the amazing product that your company offers, helping them get the most out of it post-onboarding.

You’ll be using your excellent client service skills to develop a direct relationship with those who come in contact with you and, in turn, draw on a wealth of product knowledge to provide them with great propositions.

By building a rapport with a wide range of clients – which includes discussing their own goals and ambitions that your product or service offering can assist with – you’ll be able to create tailored suggestions that boost customer retention rates and the health of client relationships.

However, it’s important to note that a Customer Success Manager is not responsible for renewal or upselling within the customer lifecycle. These duties belong to the Account Manager, which is often a more revenue-based position.

In contrast, the role of a CSM is all about maintaining the top level of service your company will be known for, using a range of skills to stoke trust and familiarity with a roster of regular clients.

What if I don’t have any previous experience in customer service?

Don’t worry.

At Timberseed, our team and our clients are more impressed with nurturing the raw skills and talents you already have.

We take pride in matching the right people to impressive opportunities and have a proven track record of placing candidates in roles where they not only excel – but thrive.

While your CV is important, we always try to look beyond what’s in print.

Our superpower is people, after all, not paper.

Want to see how our team can help you unlock the next chapter of your career?

Get in touch today.

What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

There are some things that money can’t buy. Customer loyalty is one of them.

At every stage of the client buyer’s journey, from the moment they first discover your product or are met with outreach (whether that’s cold or warm), there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to build viable relationships.

From pre-sales to purchase aftercare, CSMs are tasked with crafting and maintaining these connections, using their fantastic personal skills, quick thinking, and organisational prowess to make sure that customer satisfaction is always at 100%.

As such, they are a crucial part of any sales process.

A day in the life of a CSM promises plenty of new and interesting people to talk to, as well as the chance to get your teeth into frequent problem-solving and strategic planning as an individual or as part of the wider sales team.

Here are just some of the responsibilities and tasks you can expect from a CSM job.

What are some of the key responsibilities?

Relationship building

Great businesses need great connections.

As a CSM, you’ll be responsible for making sure that your clients are always satisfied and happy with the products and services your company is offering. You’ll do this by nurturing – and successfully managing – a number of customer relationships on a daily basis, using your fantastic communication skills to note, understand and figure out the best ‘fixes’ for their problems.

While technical issues, initial queries, and overall product problems aren’t within your remit (we will expand on this later), you will focus on making it easier for clients to get the most out of their product, helping with short-term problems, and spying gaps where an Account Manager may be able to upsell.

As a keen relationship builder, you’ll understand that all clients are unique. You’ll be able to think outside the box and be willing to go above and beyond to provide helpful guidance and ensure they are completely happy with their service.

Star representative

As a CSM, you’ll be working directly with clients.

This is a unique position within the structure of a business – giving you complete control over how you can cultivate, nurture and ultimately ensure that your contact is getting the best impression of your business at all times.

As such, you’ll be able to let your own personality shine while helping customers with a number of queries throughout their lifecycle, with the aim of building an excellent reputation for yourself and the company.

You’ll be able to meet their needs exactly, but if you can’t, you’ll helpfully point them in the right direction, checking up on their progress and making sure they are generally looked after and feel good about the service they receive.

This should also encourage positive reviews and word-of-mouth opportunities, further increasing your business’s sphere of influence and bringing more revenue to your door.

After all, happy clients mean ‘customer success’.

Be the ‘brains’ of the business

As a dynamic Customer Success Manager, not many people will know your products better than you do.

As such, ensuring that your clients know exactly how to use your services is extremely important, helping them get the most out of your offering in a way that’s tailored to their specific needs.

This not only improves client retention and the reputation of your product but also improves trust and their ability to meet their own internal goals.

In this role, it’s important to remember that the relationship between the client and your business is mutually beneficial. That’s why you will always take the time to answer any questions using a wealth of knowledge, creating bespoke plans that fully understand and target the project your customer is focusing on.

You will highlight the key features of the product through this lens, helping your client boost their productivity and use your service in a way that shows it at its best.

As each goal is different, you’ll be able to think creatively when suggesting solutions, giving you the chance to truly make a positive difference to someone else’s output – while meeting your own targets.

Eyes on the prize

Retention is the lifeblood of a good CSM.

While SDRs or BDRs focus on introducing prospects to the sales funnel, and Account Executives are keen to get them ‘over the line’, a Customer Success Manager plays the long game.

One of your main focuses is to create loyal, retained clients that are consistently happy with their service and the product.

As such, it’s key to keep an eye on ‘expiration dates’.

This might be an actual time frame in which the client may have to purchase an upgraded product or switch to another, or it could be a contract renewal that is put in place monthly, quarterly, or even annually.

These renewals are great touch points for a CSM to reach out, ask how their client is doing and prompt them to start a fresh contract or explore other options within the company.

Having previously researched, noted, and developed a reliable and trusted rapport with your clients, you’ll be able to target any ‘pain points’.

This allows you to make informed suggestions as to what your company can do for them – before referring them to the appropriate person within the sales funnel to avoid ‘client churn’.

Client microphone

As a CSM, you will fight for your clients.

This means you’ll have a feeling of personal responsibility and duty when it comes to representing and delivering their requirements, relaying any relevant information to the best points of contact within the business.

This means you’ll have cultivated a strong understanding of what they need from your product, using a number of different methods. These may include:

  • Conversations over the phone or email
  • Referrals
  • Surveys
  • Reviews
  • Comments or queries

From your notes, you should be able to fully organise a plan, analyse the best direction for this information, and share it with the best department to help facilitate action.

This will make sure your customers’ direct wishes are always heard and, most importantly, met.


Is a Customer Success Manager the Same as a Customer Support Professional?

As we mentioned earlier, it is easy for many people to confuse a Customer Support Professional and a Customer Success Manager.

From reading through the responsibilities of a CSM, and with client care often being blurred between a few different departments within a business, it’s a question that Timberseed often get asked.

The difference is mainly down to each role’s response within the existing client sales funnel, and whether they are reactive or proactive.

In short, customer support teams are often synonymous with headsets and busy call centres. They are constantly filtering through client queries and problems through live chat, handling telephone calls, or answering questions off the cuff.

More often than not, these clients have not been directly spoken to before by that particular customer support professional, meaning there is no previous relationship. As a result, any response to feedback is a reactive one.

Meanwhile, Customer Success Managers are proactive. They understand and attempt to anticipate the expectations of their clients – with whom they already have, or are starting to cultivate, a business relationship.

Typically, a CSM will be working to unpick issues that are preventing upsell or renewal opportunities, as well as showing customers how to get the most out of their product by showcasing new features or dealing with high-level queries.

This usually means a CSM will be providing answers and helpful pointers before their customers encounter problems, smoothing out the process, and arguably taking the pressure off an existing customer support team.

So, What Makes a Good Customer Success Manager?

Although you don’t need to be a customer service expert before diving into the world of SaaS sales, it helps to have the following skills in your toolbox:

Customer-focused: Working within a customer success team, you’ll be constantly thinking about your clients and how your actions will benefit them – which, in turn, will benefit you and the business.

The more you can tailor your offering to meet their unique requirements, the better your relationships will thrive and translate into excellent customer retention rates.

Communication: As a CSM, you’ll have excellent interpersonal skills. This will not only apply to your fantastic telephone manner but your ability to craft compelling emails and communications with clients, letting them know about all the ways your product can invigorate their output.

A strong communicator will be able to earn and keep your client’s trust throughout their entire lifecycle, as well as effectively educate them on the product benefits and pre-empt any problems. You’ll thrive on being able to squash problems and pivot your discussions to ensure your delivery is always relevant and useful.

Managing relationships: Arguably the main focus of a CSM, your ability to grow and sustain successful relationships is the most important factor of the role. Over time, you’ll completely understand your customer profile, offering solutions that can meet their needs over the next few weeks, months, or even years.

If you love talking to people and are motivated by helping them achieve their goals with the help of your products, then this might just be your perfect role.

Will there be training?

Ahead of your interview, your dedicated Timberseed recruiter will give you all the support you need, as well as a good idea as to what to expect from your new role.

As well as plenty of practical guidance on our end, we have a core focus on development, which is shared with all of the clients that we recruit on behalf of.

Many will offer you comprehensive training once you start with a solid probation period, so you have all the skills and experience you need to truly succeed within one of the most exciting industries around.

To find out how we can source your next role, send us your CV today. 

Does a Customer Success Manager Role with Timberseed Pay Well?

As a Customer Success Manager, young professionals can expect to earn up to £45k in OTE within their first year. As a result, this is one of the most exciting, competitive, and well-paying industries on the graduate market, making it the perfect entry-level opportunity for ambitious candidates.

Timberseed Tip: What is an OTE?

Within the sales sector, the term OTE – or on-target earnings – is an indicator of how much you can expect to earn within a SaaS role if you continually meet performance targets.

The OTE may differ from company to company, but the usual average salary is roughly £35-40k for graduates working within a CSM role.

Why Choose Timberseed?

At Timberseed, we don’t just source talent – we grow it.

From the moment you first send your CV to us to the second you say ‘yes!’ to your next exciting opportunity, we’re here to provide industry-leading support and guidance every step of the way.

We make things personal. That’s why we take the time to find out your goals, passions, and the areas you’d like to focus on in the upcoming stage of your professional development.

Your dedicated Timberseeder will then use these to inform their search, before matching you to exclusive roles within our database of dynamic and ground-breaking clients.

With workshops, tailored coaching, and a specific point of contact throughout your time with us, we won’t stop until we find – and place – you within the role of your dreams.

We’re rather good like that. But don’t just take our word for it – we have hundreds of happy graduates who have gone on to discover their dream careers in customer success positions.

Could that be you?

Get in touch with us today to find out.