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Onboarding CSMs so They Can Make an Impact Faster

September 8, 2021

Gala Samokieszyn

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Strategy, Customer Success Tools, Voice of the Team

To the new CSM who has stumbled upon this post:

Yes, you are HIRED! All the hours of tweaking your resume, practicing interview questions in the mirror, making sure your Zoom background had nothing awkward in it, and putting on a professional outfit in your own home has paid off.

Now what?

You have a platform to learn, names to memorize, a virtual environment to create. You are not alone if the inevitable “imposter syndrome” starts to creep in. But remember, they picked you for a reason. You stood out amongst the other candidates. Now that you’ve made an amazing first impression with the hiring team at your new company, don’t forget that you will now also be making a first impression within your team. Embrace your new-ness.

To the hiring manager who has stumbled upon this post:

You have extended an offer to a new CSM and are eager to get them initiated into the organization and producing results for customers. Introductions to their peers and to their book of business, building presentation decks, hosting Zoom meetings with clients: it’s all so exciting, and you need the extra bandwidth on your team! But it can’t be done without a proper introduction to the organization first.

As a hiring leader, don’t overlook what may seem “basic” or second nature to you. Where to be and when? What time should the new CSM begin their day? What are your virtual work protocols (whether they’ve been documented or not)?

Addressing the potentially awkward questions in the first week (even first day if you’re feeling fancy) immediately eliminates feelings of uncertainty for your new employee. To name a few:

  • What time zone are they expected to work in?
  • If they are sick, how do they alert their team?
  • If they have a doctor’s appointment, what is the protocol to be out of the office?
  • How does one ask for time off?
  • How long does it take for a PTO request to be approved?

Yes, the employee is brand-spanking new, but they are also human. Bringing these topics out into the open will immediately foster a sense of trust and belonging, making sure that the new CSM knows how to address personal matters in order to bring their full self to work, day in and day out.

So, you’ve taken care of addressing benefits, PTO, sick time, etc.: now it’s time to get into the real “meat” of onboarding your new CSM.

We’ve all heard it: onboarding is the most critical moment of truth for a new customer. Do you really think it’s any different for a new employee?

Spoiler alert: it’s not!

Just as the organization is continuing to evaluate the employee within their first few months, the employee is likewise, continuing to evaluate the organization. So, just like you would “make it sticky” for a customer, do the same for your new CSM with these four simples (yet effective) tactics.

1. Orient the CSM with the team

It’s time to make some introductions. Have the new CSM shadow as many calls, meetings, and 1:1’s as possible (only when appropriate, of course). And remember, this may seem like a routine week to you (the trainer), but every single experience will be new to the CSM. Make sure to properly introduce them to new-to-them teammates and customers during each call and encourage your CSM to follow-up with every teammate they meet to extend the conversation and start to build those ever-important relationships.

2. Make time for questions

Inevitably when bringing on a new CSM, questions will begin to pile up. Encourage your new hire to take notes during all shadowed calls and be sure to make time to address them one-on-one after the fact. One common way to accomplish this is to schedule a 15-minute touch-base at the beginning and end of the day between the new CSM and their leader. In the morning, they can discuss what lies ahead in the day, and in the afternoon, the CSM can bring forward all the questions they have gathered throughout the day.

Not only will this make the CSM feel safe to ask questions, but it will also make them feel valued, as their leader is taking significant time out of their week to make sure they feel comfortable with the new expectations.

3. Provide resources

Your new CSM has come in hungry: ready to learn and engage. Be sure you have the proper resources for them to do so. Webinars, podcasts, product training, even formal CS training and certification – lay these out for your CSM, so they know exactly what to be watching/reading and when. Not only does this ensure they have the resources to learn, but it also makes the CSM feel as though they are providing value back to the organization by taking advantage of what has been laid out for them.

4. Give them a “mini-project”

If you hired the right candidate, they’ll be eager to start contributing to the team right away. Although they may not be ready to dive into their new normal day-to-day or have a book of business quite yet, they’re going to want to provide value back to the team that is investing so heavily in them. Let the CSM do this!

We all have projects that are on the front-burner (AKA the most important) and projects that are on the side-burners, back-burners, or maybe not even on the stove quite yet. Talk to your existing team before the new hire arrives and figure out a project that has been put to the side that the new hire can take off someone’s plate. This should not be something overly complex. This could be something that requires a bit of research, a bit of interviewing cross-departmentally, or simply a fresh new perspective. This way the new CSM will be able to work on something right away that could potentially alleviate something off a peer’s plate (helping them feel accomplished and combatting the nasty imposter syndrome that can creep in), while also diving into the organization head-on.

To note: when the CSM submits/finishes their “mini-project,” be sure to acknowledge it and give them feedback. Make them feel valued and appreciated for contributing to the organization so quickly and share any insight that will help them make an even bigger impact on future projects.

Final thoughts

By the end of your new employee’s first week, if you’ve done these four things, you’ll have a CSM who is just as excited to be with your organization as you were when you extended the offer to them. The technical skills of being a top-performing CSM will be taught over time, but these acts of kindness and interest in your new hire will quickly instill a sense of belonging and reinforce the empathetic culture that they joined your organization to be a part of.

Capture their new-ness and don’t let it go to waste!