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The SaaS world can be distilled into four main quadrants: horizontal and vertical solutions, at high or low average selling points. Where your solution falls on the quadrant greatly impacts the profile of your ideal Customer Success Manager. On top of the skills and qualities a CSMs should always possess, there are some dominant traits to look for based on the specificity of your business.

CSM Hiring Quadrant

Horizontal Solutions

Horizontal Solutions (e.g. Gmail, Box, Slack) cater to a wide range of users. They’re not industry specific, instead, they have the ability to solve problems that are common to all. Customer Success Managers working with horizontal SaaS need high empathy and an open mind. They’ll need to easily relate to customers with whom they don’t have much in common and the discussions they’ll have will be entirely different every day.

High Average Selling Point

At a high average selling point, the Customer Success Manager needs to be strategic. More often in charge of upsells than in other quadrants, these CSMs need to demonstrate value to take an account from freemium to premium.

Relevant experience includes a background in consultancy or business development. These candidates know how business works and can easily understand the pain points of business across the board.

Low Average Selling Point

At a low average selling point, Customer Success Managers for horizontal SaaS need a high drive and inexhaustible amounts of enthusiasm. These CSMs will need to make a lot of calls, and they’ll set up, oversee, and experiment with tech-touch campaigns. In this quadrant, numbers and trends matter more than logos and high-value relationships.

For this type of solution, look for candidates with experience in sales, or hire a first-timer in tech with a drive to learn and high energy.

Vertical Solutions

Vertical solutions (e.g. Amity) have a specific type of customers (our SaaS helps Customer Success teams in B2B SaaS). CSMs for this type of SaaS need advanced expertise, be it domain-specific or technical.

High Average Selling Point

At a high average selling point, a Customer Success Manager needs high domain expertise. The Success team positions itself as an expert and advisor, not only for solution-related issues but more broadly on how to achieve success. Customers not only seek advice on how to achieve value with the solution they’ve purchased, they also look for support in integrating their stack and evolving their processes.

Candidates with the most relevant experience often come from the domain itself. They know enough about their customers’ responsibilities to mentor them in achieving success.

Low Average Selling Point

At a low average selling point, CSMs need advanced technical skills. More often than not, these teams focus on implementation and configuration. The low selling point does not warrant for a consultancy-oriented type of support, and the team will provide value related to the product itself: adoption, integrations, and onboarding.

Strong candidates come with a background in IT and engineering. They have had experience working technically getting things done for customers.

Hiring the Perfect CSM

Customer Success Managers arguably hold one of the most valuable positions at your company. Once you’ve defined what your ideal candidate should look like, polish your recruitment and interview processes to attract and identify the one. Remember, this is just the first step in setting your team up for success. Be sure to follow-up with a purposely designed onboarding playbook to get your newest team members up to speed.