Retention – customer success manager

Recruitments inside job: Retention.

We work with businesses looking for change markers, thought provokers, and strategy executers; people who make a difference. The people who come to work to deliver, to see results. Because that’s also who we are.

Now, contrary to popular belief, these people come in a wide variety of ideological shapes and sizes. If you want Type A personalities, we can find them for you. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, they’re not the only change makers in this game.

As recruiters, we want to understand what you’re trying to achieve, as much as we need to understand what you’re looking to recruit for.

To explore this in more detail, I’m going to apply an industry specific lens.

You work for an IT vendor, a software solutions provider. The product you sell is described as a ‘big ticket’ item. On top of this it’s a ‘complex sale’; multiple different stakeholders, from across a variety of business functions, all need to want to say ‘yes’ for your product to be successfully sold in.

Given the cost, and complexity, this could take between 12 months and 2 years. Part of that is also down to contracts in place with the existing, incumbent, software you are aiming to replace.

You see, the contract will likely look something like this. 3 years, with a brake clause after 12 months, and an innovation incentive in year 3.

Now it’s clear that getting your extremely well-dressed IT vendor, solutions provider, foot in the door is the biggest single expense here (just as it often is in recruiting external talent). Your prospective client sets the bar high. Hell, key contacts within the business may even be so satisfied, or disgruntled*, with the incumbent service provider that you may have to find other internal champions, people who’re willing and able to sell the idea, and the capability, of your solution to their colleagues. Reputations are at stake when an entire organisations capability relies upon your solution enabling the business in the way the incumbent solution simply hasn’t.

Here, we have to wonder ‘what went right, or wrong, with the incumbent solution, and how do we avoid the worst possible fate (rip and replace after 12 months)?’

Somewhere, there are answers. Some of these will be painful to admit, maybe even career damaging. *Think ‘Sales Director tells Board the CRM system doesn’t give the requested reporting data’ after a prolonged, regular business disrupting, vendor selection process, followed by a costly and complex implementation! ‘Ouch’ is the polite word for it.

Now the best solutions providers know that signing the deal is only the start of the sales process. The smartest of smart will have a Customer Success Manager integrated into the later stages of the, pre contract signed, sales process.

The Customer Success Manager.

Think of them as being on secondment to the business you’re selling into. They might be employed, and paid, by you, but they’re working for the new client you want to build a long, successful relationship with. Some will even call this ‘free consulting’.

And here’s where the best recruiters are to be found. Working long, deep, relationships with clients. Understanding the organisational needs and wants. Knowing the inside track on what’s just not working, and what’s absolutely flying. Having earned the trust of the client, you’re seen as one of them. Someone who works for the team and delivers on the shared vision of success which the business has.

Not your typical relationship. Not your typical outcomes.

‘What does this all have to do with retention?’, I hear you ask.


When your Customer Success Manager (recruiter) builds relationships that extend far beyond manging contracts, and building a network of contacts, rather focuses on building relationships based on culture, values, and outcomes, then, and only then, you have a retention specialist.

Supercharging a business is as much about continuity as it is about change. No business thrives when turn over is high. How do you manage or deliver organisational change – working toward business success goal(s) – when you have substantial churn in your workforce? Do good people feel safe when churn is significant? Do good people feel safe when new hires don’t fit the view of the organisational culture they’d been sold?

Your Customer Success Manager starts at the very start. Retention.

If you don’t want to be the solution provider being kicked out the door after 12 months, so will you.

Retention: The inside job of recruitment

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