Account Management is Dead. Long Live Customer Success.

If you’re in Sales, Marketing, or Recruiting, it’s likely you’ve seen Customer Success Managers replacing the more traditional Account Manager role. When I say “Account Manager” I’m referring to the “farmers” in a Sales organization. Their job is to maintain customer relationships and up-sell. What this often boils down to is making sure renewals are processed and then pushing more products and services.

Unlike the more traditional Account Manager, Customer Success Managers get into the mind of the customer. They study the customer’s business and the challenges holding the customer back from professional and personal success.

Customer Success Managers care deeply about customer outcomes. They develop plans to get the customer over the first goal line, then they push the goalposts back and guide the customer to the next level of success.

Because they work to always act in the customer’s best interests, Customer Success Managers become the customer’s trusted advisor. When executing at their peak, Customer Success Managers drive near-100% customer retention. Customers love working with them and naturally buy more of your company’s products and services. Renewals just happen: in the customer’s mind, there’s no question about continuing the partnership.

Meanwhile, Account Managers are rarely thought of as anything more than order takers.

The good news for the Account Managers and Sales leaders out there who manage “farm teams” is that it’s not a big leap to go from “order taker” to “trusted advisor”. It all begins with laying a foundation:

Step 1: Make the success of your customer your top priority. Whether that success is professional or personal, it needs to be priority #1.

Step 2: Always be asking, “How does this help my customer be more successful?” If the answer is ever, “It doesn’t”, ask again. Ask until you’re blue in the face. Then take a breath and get back to questioning!

These are the first principles to get you started. Is there more to Customer Success? You bet. But it all flows from a deep desire to see the customer succeed. Do that and you’re on the right path. Both for the customer’s success and your own.


Inspired by the article, “Owning the Number“, written by Jay Nathan, Founder of Customer Imperative. Special thanks to Nick Mehta, CEO at Gainsight for sharing Jay’s article on LinkedIn.

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