Consolidation of Customer Success

In the last 5 years, customer success has emerged as a key role in most cloud-based companies. It’s ranked #6 (US) in LinkedIn’s annual Jobs report: Link

The top roles in the report are technical and well-defined. Customer Success has matured and requires specialized skills. Recent reorgs by SAP and VMWare demonstrate how customer success can survive —- absorbing support, professional services, and even some sales functions. Over the last 5 years, platforms such as Gainsight created a category and differentiated from traditional CRMs. The CAGR forecasted for customer success platforms is over 25% in the coming years. I witnessed a few companies buy CS platforms or get acquired themselves. Deal flow is a good sign in most industries.

The plus side is the growth potential for anyone entering this field. The downside is that it’s a political role and requires being savvy given the exposure in an org. I know very few customer success professionals who stayed in the same role for over 3 years. Of course, many shifted roles within the org, but many more didn’t survive reorgs.

I’m happy to endorse this career for anyone just after college, but recommend it as a stepping stone to technical or product roles. There is much talk of the Chief Customer Officer owning revenue and becoming the Chief Revenue Officer. Ultimately, I don’t think customer success is ready to replace the Sales function, but CS will always be Sales’ best friend.

Upon reflecting on the classic scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, the coffee is for closers only. CS professionals are unlikely to succeed when Sales slow down. 😂

However, a well-supported Customer Success function retains and grows the customer base even during tough times.