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Dear marketers: An open letter about the other side

By Peter Armaly

CMO Solution Guide for Building a Modern Marketing Organization

Marketers, suppose for a moment that you’re not who you are. Suppose instead that you’re a Customer Success Manager (CSM). Suppose you have to think of the customer differently, from a different perspective than the one you normally have. You have to think of them as someone who already knows your company (albeit, to a limited extent) so you don’t have to educate them on that point. They know the promise of your product and have already decided to fork over hard-earned dollars to invest in it so there’s less need for you to convince them of its merits. So what is it now that you’ll focus your energy and creativity on as a CSM? So what is it now that you’ll focus your energy and creativity on as a CSM?

CSMs Ensure the Customer…

  • Is onboarded as effectively as possible for each of the products they license.
  • Receives the right service they need at the right time.
  • Methodically marches towards increasing business value for each product.
  • Is occasionally consulted with about their progress towards maximizing that value and about how they are feeling about the business relationship they have, or don’t have, with the company you represent.
  • Knows well in advance that they are approaching a renewal opportunity for the subscription/license and that you’d like to work with them to make it as much of a non-event as possible.
  • Understands that there are other products from your company that might help them achieve their stated business goals if they are willing to consider additional investments.
  • CSMs Execute By…

  • Understanding why the customer bought the product(s) and what business problems they were trying to solve.
  • Recognizing the fundamental value proposition of each of the products in your company’s portfolio and bringing that knowledge to bear during the life of the client’s engagement, as appropriate.
  • Understanding at least the basic mechanics of how each product works and be ready to communicate about these to the client, as required.
  • Knowing whether each product can be integrated with the other and whether by doing so it offers some sort of exponential business value. You proactively communicate on this point with the client, as appropriate.
  • Monitoring the health of each account in order to head off any negatively trending product usage, support issue, licensing challenge, and overall customer satisfaction challenges that might imperil future renewal or expansion decisions.
  • Nurturing the client with proactively proffered content that is relevant and timely to where they are in their adoption of the product(s).
  • Okay, marketers, you can leave that CSM role now and dawn your marketing cape once again. What do you think? Looking at that list of CSMs’ responsibilities and means for execution, are there any that strike you as areas in which you might be able to help?

    I believe the answer is yes based on your:

    • Experience with technology-based client outreach campaigns
    • Ability to measure the effectiveness of such campaigns
    • Proficiency to target the right people at the right time with the right message
    • Potential to generate excitement with people you’ve never met

    To deepen the appreciation Marketers and CSMs should have for each other let’s do a comparison. As a Marketer, you measure your effectiveness by scoring yourselves on qualified leads, your contributions towards successfully closed sales deals (revenue attribution), market growth, and brand protection. CSMs score themselves on successful customers (based on product adoption and achievement of goals), contribution to customer retention and growth, and customer satisfaction (primarily using NPS and CES, which ask “would you recommend?” or “have you recommended?”).

    Do you see the similarities between the two positions? Their target audiences perspectives are what differentiate them, right?

    Recognize That It Is a 2-Way Street

    Once you begin recognizing ways to help out CSMs with their work, it’s only reasonable to wonder how they are helping you. CSMs…:

  • Share knowledge of the extent to which customers use your company’s products. The triumphs, the disappointments, the expected pace of achievement, and many of the mistakes that can lead to failure are also valuable information to spread. Their well of knowledge should fuel your efforts to craft the most authentic and accurate content for prospects.
  • Build customer references and collect advocates by ensuring that the customers have received their expected return on investment and feel good about the company and its ability to help them solve real business problems. If CSMs do their job, yours is simplified.
  • Collect feedback from real customers and systematically put this data into the product management processes. While that is not strictly within the realm of control of marketing, marketers directly benefit from product management’s subsequent delivery of products that more precisely address specific business challenges.
  • When we discuss transformation with clients an important subject we probe with them are their organizational boundaries, or what many people refer to as silos. Many view silos as almost impossible to overcome and with exasperation, they seek to find other means for transformation. They believe silos can only be dismantled if C-level executives agree to surrender control over their respective domains, something that is only a pipe dream. I suggest that there is another way to look at the problem.

    As McKinsey has reported, real transformation occurs at the individual level. As an individual contributor, one way you can help your company’s effort to transform is by educating yourself about the role your counterparts play in the customer’s journey. Reaching out and opening a dialogue with them might surface opportunities for mutual assistance and organically alter the way your respective organizations think.

    Sometimes the most significant change originates from the frontline. As a CMO there are many pressures beyond the results of your frontline. To create a Modern Marketing Organization, download the