Should Customer Success Managers Have a Quota?

Whether Customer Success Managers should have quotas is a question many organizations struggle with. Let’s explore both sides of the argument.
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The argument for or against a quota of some kind in Customer Success will vary widely depending on who you talk to, as well as the structure of the organization and even the product or service being managed. 

It is my experience that many organizations try to include Customer Success as a function of sales or some other department. But should Customer Success be its own department? or does it legitimately belong as part of another function of your business?

Types of quotas

  • Renewals (churn)
  • Expansion (up-selling)

The Arguement For Quotas

If your Customer Success Team exists within the sales department it seems natural to include some kind of monetary quota based on a percentage of existing book of business or a dollar value on expansion. 

Even if your Customer Success Team is its own department and runs separately it can make sense. 

In any or all SaaS models expansion makes up a large percentage of the overall growth for a company, selling to existing customers should be easier and getting them to buy more easily creates additional ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). 

So, logically – we give Customer Success Managers a quota to increase their ARR by up-selling new features or additional products to their existing clients. It should be happening so we should measure and record it as a function of that Customer Success Managers performance.

The Argument Against Quotas

The role of Customer Success is not to sell. The role of Customer Success is to build relationships and contribute to the overall success of your customers through providing assistance and helping them recognize value of your product. 

By adding a quota you shift the emphasis from creating value to selling products. This fundamental shift can disrupt the precious trust your Customer Success Manager has built with your customer. 

Instead of having a trusted partner in success your customer now has a full-time salesperson trying to push new products, potentially ruining that balance.

The idea that a happy customer is a customer that spends more tends to hold true no matter the industry or product. By allowing Customer Success to be a trusted partner in success, expansion is inevitable, churn is reduced and your customers don’t feel pressured. 

Conclusions

There is no right answer to this question, and of course it is possible to implement quotas for Customer Success Teams without making it the priority of the role. 

But this can be difficult, and depending on how it is structured Customer Success Managers may feel inadvertently pressured into a more salesy position. 

Consider the needs of your customers and the role your Customer Success has in their overall success with your product. Ask yourself if Customer Success needs a quota to drive expansion and renewals?

Careful and thoughtful implementation of quotas can and does work, so does letting your Customer Success Team drive value and letting things happen naturally. 

What are your thoughts? Does your organization have quotas for Customer Success? Why or why not? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments!

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