When to hire your first CSM

2 min read

So when exactly should you hire dedicated CSMs to your SaaS business, after 10-100 or 500 customers?

We speak to a lot of SaaS leaders and typically see two different approaches:

The old-school style

You initially focus on new business sales, everything is about acquiring new customers and after the first year you have your account managers juggling new business sales with managing existing clients and relationships. You’re thinking that this is a great model since your sales reps already have a great relationship with their customers so they might as well continue the relationship and handle the renewal.

We see this old-school model typically adopted by on-premise software companies that recently have transformed to a SaaS model.

The new-school style

You initially focus on new business sales but quickly realize the importance of customer success. You start thinking about playbooks, proper onboarding processes and a data-driven approach to account management. You hire a customer success manager early on and realize that a big portion of your (new!) sales will come from up-selling and cross-selling your existing customers.

When?

Most SaaS companies we meet already have dedicated CSMs focusing on their clients. But when is the right timing of investing in your first CSM? Some startups can’t afford one, some have too small clients ($99/year), some have too few (but large) and demanding customers…

Here is a simple guideline that might help you in your decision making of when you should hire your first CSM:

when to hire your first customer success manager

You should segment your clients in small-medium-large and apply different playbooks to each.

Large accounts

  • Physical visits

  • EBRs (executive business reviews)

  • Touch base often

Medium size accounts

  • Build relationships

  • Physical visits if the client is local

  • Touch base at least once per month

Small size accounts

  • Automation of systems and campaigns

  • Quickly implement and manage a ticketing- and help center system

  • Automate your playbooks

  • Tag Hi Potential accounts – touch base with them often – build relationships

Hire a CSM as soon as you can afford one. You’ll never regret investing in your customers!

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