Why I want you to be selfish - Be unashamed to focus on revenue

Colin Goudie
April 24, 2023
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Customer Success Managers focusing on Revenue

I started drafting an article a month ago on how to be a Customer Success focused company.

What became quickly evident is the growing trend of conversations around how Customer Success is fundamentally broken.

Don’t get me wrong. The intentions are right.

And there is nothing at all wrong with the people involved in Customer Success or even the leaders who follow best practices and implement the Customer Success strategies promoted over the past five to ten years.

But what is required is more than just another strategy.

It’s a fundamental shift for founders and CEOs, C-Levels, and executive leadership teams, to transform their organizations into Customer Driven companies.

Why would we want to do this?

Because the fundamental value we bring to customers is our existence.

Can we transform our companies so we can pursue our own company goals, knowing that this makes our customers successful and that at all times ensures these processes are top-down driven across the company?

What would that take?

Leadership Needs to Own Customer Success

It’s evident that as Customer Success teams grow and become established they assume the responsibilities for all things customer, including the ultimate success or failure.

This an impossible task given many of the inputs to customer success are cross-cutting across an organization such as obtaining quality leads and building a quality product.

This is wrong.

If we see Customer Success as the entire business and ultimately the responsibility of leadership to drive and adapt, then our Customer Success teams are set up in a better environment with the necessary support.

So, we need to pull much of the responsibility out of our CS teams and refocus it elsewhere.

I often use the analogy of Product & Engineering (not a perfect analogy by any means).

When agile first took off in the 2000s it rapidly grew to a state whereby the development team was tasked with delivering everything, often in a sprint. This led to developers being ‘responsible’ for far more than they really should.

Over time we’ve recognized these issues and Product Teams became more of a focus, pulling the experience of the user and product out of the engineering teams, allowing us to validate and ensure we’re building the right thing before we start.

How do we know what that is?

Success needs to be measured

You don’t know what you don’t measure.

This means you can’t know what makes a customer successful unless you ask and have a process around it.

Our traditional Customer Success tools have done a great job in helping standardize the customer contact approach - feedback surveys, onboarding, journeys, and other features but they haven’t helped in enforcing the idea that unless we know what the customer really is trying to do (especially outside of what we do) then we are ultimately shooting in the dark.

A real Customer Success Plan is a great start. However, one I’m not sure is very well understood, performed, or even supported in many tools that Customer Success teams use.

A success plan needs to be highly visible in the organization - This isn’t just a CS tool. Does your product team regularly have access to this? Does it draw and link to their roadmaps and bug trackers? Does it outline the promises they were told from sales?

A success plan needs to be more than onboarding your product - It should show your company what your customer’s primary goals are right now! This should focus 80% on what they are doing outside your product daily. It should be front and center in every stage of the customer’s lifecycle.

A success plan needs to be built with the customer, with actions - It should show agreed-upon actions, next steps, and blockers and be agreed upon with the customer.

A success plan should help you learn about your customer - This means exposing different information to different people inside your organization to help them learn about your customer, their goals, and their trends. Remember, our customers can't always tell us what they need. That’s our job, and a more holistic view is needed.

Success Plans require new ways of thinking, changes to reporting, and new tools to make it easy and seamless, and consistent.

How do we make sure we do this?

Become a Selfishly Driven Company

Companies are about generating revenue.

Imagine if your organization could ruthlessly pursue this purpose with an addictive singular focus on creating, expanding, and retaining revenue, and this very focus makes your customers happier and happier and more and more successful.

Is that possible?

With leadership driving the Success initiative and with the right measurements and view in place we can begin to selfishly focus on what we do best.

We should now be able to ask any employee in our organization what they think our customers' leadership teams are focused on next quarter - and, get an answer.

Our business's primary goal is to generate revenue. Otherwise, we’re not a business.

So it flows that a customer-driven company’s primary focus is growing revenue.

Doesn’t that conflict with the idea of the success of our customers? Are you saying we should do anything to get money out of our clients?


We need to focus on seeing selfishness as a virtue with our offerings. We need to have done the due diligence ourselves to know that the value we provide will benefit our client's success. When we get to that, we owe it to them and ourselves to do everything to promote and grow the distribution of our products and services.

The more we help ourselves, we end up helping others.

That is true Customer Success.

“Does this apply to all our customers? We have 1000’s of them!”

Yes and no 🤣

Like in most areas, segmentation is key.

These could be high-value customers to help provide the revenue needed to perform a high-touch onboarding strategy.

But it also means identifying the core themes that your customers really care about - most importantly, beyond your product offering.

Success plans are ultimately delivered per customer, but remember, we are not unique.

Many of your customers will be facing the same set of challenges, and this can go a long way to scaling your success plans.

I’m convinced as an industry we’re not where we need to be, yet.

But I can’t think of a better industry that is prepared to take on the challenge.

If you have ideas about creating great success plans for your customers, I’d love to chat - Feel free to book a discovery call with us.

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