5 crucial tips when hiring your first CSM

Matt Brown on January 24, 2024

Hiring your first Customer Success Manager? Discover 5 crucial tips to elevate their role from reactive support to proactive revenue drivers - by providing cross-functional influence, unified customer data insights, growth incentives, and a customer-centric culture rallying the entire organization.

5 crucial tips when hiring your first CSM

Congratulations on reaching the milestone of hiring your first Customer Success Manager (CSM)! This marks an inflection point not just for customer experience at your company, but also revenue growth.

However, the role of CSMs is undergoing an identity crisis. While empathy and relationship-building are still critical, CSMs today need to evolve into data-driven stewards of customer lifetime value.

In this post, we’ll explore how to set up your first CSM for revenue contribution vs. just defense. Get ready to transform customer success into a key influencer in driving customer-driven and revenue growth decisions!

Key Takeaways:

  • CSMs should have a senior seat at the table to inform product, pricing and other customer-impacting decisions
  • Arm CSMs with integrated customer data and predictive insights to identify renewal risks and expansion opportunities
  • Incentivize mining customer data for growth by celebrating retention and expansion wins
  • Make CSMs the connective tissue between customer experience and revenue growth

Evolving the CSM Role Beyond Defense

In the past, CSMs have been relegated to a defensive position - owning onboarding, conducting QBRs and reactively saving struggling customers. But the best defense is a good offense.

Your CSMs need to proactively focus on what drives customer growth and loyalty, not what causes them to leave. They should feed insights from the customer front lines directly into your go-to-market strategy and product roadmap.

This requires breaking down data and communication silos between teams. Currently, CSMs suffer from the “new kid” syndrome - they get brought in last after marketing, sales and product. So they only handle leftover tasks like paperwork, box-ticking and putting out fires.

But renewals and expansions are the only path to long-term profitability with a SaaS model. Your CSMs need to be at the forefront of this team effort to maximize customer lifetime value.

Here’s how to set them up for success:

Provide Cross-Functional Influence

Get CSMs in the room for strategic discussions on product, pricing and other customer-impacting decisions. Their insights into evolving needs and pain points are invaluable for staying ahead.

Foster partnerships between CSMs, sales, support, product and engineering.

CSMs advocate for customer interests but also spot revenue opportunities. These insights should directly inform growth decisions.

Promote Total Visibility

Arm CSMs with integrated customer data and predictive insights to uncover risks and opportunities. Unify data from your CRM, support tickets, product usage trends and more.

This single source of truth allows anyone to identify upsell potential based on adoption trends. Or find customers at risk based on low engagement signals.

Incentivize Mining for Growth

Motivate teams to scrutinize customer data for expansion potential. Celebrate retention and renewal wins right alongside new logo acquisition.

Installing this customer success culture directly fuels data-driven revenue growth decisions. Suddenly your entire organization rallies around customer lifetime value, not just logos. But how do we do this?

Rally Your Team Around Customer Intelligence

Driving growth through customer success requires getting your entire organization fixated on customer data.

Customer insights should receive just as much scrutiny as pipeline reports and lead stats. Start celebrating retention milestones and expansion wins with the same gusto as landing new logos.

Provide incentives for sales, marketing, product and support teams to pore through customer data. They should be motivated to identify adoption trends, changing needs, and churn risks.

Break down the historical silos by connecting disparate systems into a unified customer intelligence platform. Removing data bottlenecks allows anyone to spot opportunities and threats in real time.

Suddenly your CCO can easily brief the board on quarterly renewals forecasts. Your VP of Product has continuous feedback loops to guide roadmap priorities. Support agents have full customer context to deliver personalized service.

And equipped with predictive insights across the customer journey, your CSM can better:

  • Advise on pricing optimization to improve expansion revenue
  • Alert account managers to customers at risk
  • Drive product adoption through targeted education
  • Develop customer health scoring to predict renewals

The power of this intelligence unlocks their evolution into a senior leader on revenue growth. The keys are visible, accessible and actionable customer truth.

This shift doesn’t happen overnight. But rallying your team around customer data pays compounding dividends over time. The results are happier, stickier and more valuable customers.

Customer Success is Business Success

Hiring that first CSM kicks off a broader shift - one where obsession with customer experience directly fuels data-driven growth.

But realizing that flywheel requires getting the entire organization on board. Everyone, from the CEO down, needs to rally around customer intelligence.

That starts by breaking down historical silos that have limited CSMs to a reactive role. Unify systems and data flows across functions. Promote visibility into the entire customer journey for all teams.

Celebrate renewals, retention and expansion with the same zeal as new sales. Motivate everyone to mine signals from customer data and turn insights into decisive actions.

Equipped with complete customer context and executive influence, your CSM can finally shift from customer support to senior leader. They become the connective tissue informing critical growth decisions across the business.

With the right operational setup and cultural buy-in, your CSM transforms into a powerhouse for expanding lifetime value. No longer just a “new kid” relegated to menial relationship management.


Portrait of Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Co-founder and CEO, CustomerOS

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