I am elated to announce The Connective Good’s latest placement: Diane Gordon joins BlueConic in Boston as the SVP of Customer Success. Diane was previously the Chief Customer Officer for Brainshark and the Chief Customer Officer for Bullhorn.
BlueConic, a SaaS company serving marketers and the dominant player in the Customer Data Platform category, has seen a tripling of growth and a ticking up of new customers from big brands. They needed a leader to shape the Customer Success function as the business scales.
We explored this role with over 250 executives, culminating in Diane.
Here’s what I learned from this search, which may be helpful if you are also seeking a customer success leader:
- There are different flavors of CS leaders; get clear on which flavor(s) makes sense for your business:
- Background that is more technical versus more sales-y versus more consulting-oriented
- Aptitude to manage the whole arc of customer success, from onboarding to training to support to renewals to advocacy, versus just a portion of that arc
- Experience managing CS for a technical and mission-critical product (such as, in this case, the crown jewels of customer data) versus experience supporting less mission-critical products
- SaaS experience versus professional services/consulting heritage (with potentially larger deal sizes)
- There’s a difference between a CS leader and a senior CS do-er: Someone who has led a CS organization (with responsibility for operations, team leadership, and defining the customer lifecycle) often has different motivations and skills from a senior person who has managed a portfolio of successful customer relationships.
- Customer Success candidates want to see how customer-centric a company is: You will have an edge in landing the top candidates if you can demonstrate how customer-oriented your company is. That way, the new leader feels like they are walking into a welcoming environment. Share stories about the last time all hands were on deck to help a customer. Share quotes from happy customers. Perhaps have the candidate meet a customer as part of the recruiting process.
- Just because a Customer Success executive has led and scaled an organization from the ground up does not necessarily mean they want to do it again. And even if someone has been working at immense scale, they may relish the opportunity to start a new role with a smaller team, being more hands-on.