Customer Success Leadership Community

Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

  • 1.  Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-26-2021 11:55

    Was hoping for some help. It's badly needed. : )  Former sales guy, who will try and practice some brevity. But an emphasis on the word "try".

    Who am I?

    Recruiter operating entirely within a couple of specific areas of cybersecurity. (IoT and Industrial IoT)
    Wheelhouse is typically:
    C-Suite and Senior-level customer-facing roles impacting revenue generation. 
    Most of our client's are in that super high growth phase (massive YoY growth, pre-ipo or other liquidity event) and trying to nail down that elusive "repeatable process" to continue scaling. Most are in the early stages of building their Customer Success function within the org.

    DISCLAIMER - I'm at the start of my journey on learning about Customer Success. Despite hours spent on Podcasts, YouTube, and articles I'm having trouble finding some similar case studies as it relates to having an Enterprise infrastructure focus. So, I may have some "dumb questions" to which I'll ask your forgiveness now. Just blame it on the "clueless recruiter", not the company. : ) But I'm coming from a good place and want to help!! 


    One client in-particular is very dear to us. We've been partnering with them since the Seed round. So definitely because of past success the Founder reached out for help in bringing on their first Head of CS to build this function for them.  

    They are the market leader within their space. Unbelievably,  have never had a customer leave since starting their GTM in 2016. Sub $50m in revenue, but have had fantastic YoY growth. Amongst their competitors, they're the ONLY one who reached their 2020 revenue target.  



    This is a fairly new market and really only a handful of competitors who are all similar in size and the vendors who have traditionally served this market have had completely different products (non-security) and are huge orgs with different buying cycles/models.
    1. When considering CS function when dealing with Enterprise, how would you weight someone's experience as it relates to: 
      1. Experience working with the target customers?
      2. Experience with a similar product within security? Possibly another traditional cyber vendor?
      3. Experience with the specific sales cycle/buying model? 
    2. How would you determine if a CS leader has been effective at working with Marketing, Sales, Product?
    3. Any Enterprise B2B companies (preferably less than 15ish years old) who you guys would say are good case studies of what a solid CS program looks like? 


    Notes to consider –

    Will report to the CPO and Founder. (He will lean very heavily on this person for guidance)

    Pure Enterprise. Large and complex deals.

    Zero churn to date, so the role will be more focused on the product happiness side. (Terrible or incorrect wording?)

    Must haves

    • Needing someone who grew up with a technical background as this role will report directly to the Founder and CPO.
    • Definitely someone naturally curious and Customer Obsessed by nature. (Vetted heavily)
    • Experience building a CS team. Hopefully both with an On-Prem appliance and Cloud SaaS model. (Although SaaS will be heavily preferred)
    • B2B Enterprise for sure. Primarily B2C is just too much of a reach.

    Highly preferred

    • Has experience within network security
    • Has experience working within high growth early-stage companies



    Mark Hyman
    Verge Management Group

  • 2.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-26-2021 13:21
    Hi Mark,
    It's great that you have joined the community-- your post is very welcome! Since you're looking for such a specific use case, I wouldn't plan on finding the perfect person who ticks all the boxes (you may get 1a, b or c, but not likely all 3, and if you get one of those, it may not be with an early stage company). When it comes to CS, it's the soft skills that are most important and are less teachable. Anything else can be learned, so you're really evaluating how fast a learner the person is.

    If you want to know how effective someone is working cross-functionally, just put it in the JD and I'm sure any candidate will be able to provide examples in the resume and interview-- that's half the job.  A good book to pick up is Customer Success Economy if you're looking to understand how a company adopts a customer success culture (it could be that your company has been doing customer success without realizing it if they haven't lost any customers yet).

    All of the info under "notes to consider" are helpful for the JD-- I would include.
    Is that helpful?

    Jan Young

  • 3.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-27-2021 08:41
    Hi Mark,

    I was hired as the first Global Head of customer success at Illusive, a cybersecurity company, reporting to the CRO. I would be happy to help answer your questions and give you some insights.



    Effie Mansdorf
    Global Head of Customer Success

  • 4.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-26-2021 18:00
    Hey Jan!

    Appreciate the welcome!  : ) You should see my OneNote folder on Customer Success just from this group. ha

    I completely agree that we are looking for a unicorn. For lack of better wording. And there is definitely some understanding from the client on the strict requirements. I'd say Enterprise B2B focus and at least a leader on a CS team being built are the MUST haves. Followed closely by having a technical background. 

    As far as vetting for how someone works cross-functionally, it is definitely in the formal job description. :  ) The struggle I am having is vetting this, even at the basic level BEFORE they speak to my client. If I were vetting a Chief Revenue Officer on how he or she has worked with Marketing to set up and drive the demand gen engine, I at least know enough to tell if they are a top tier operator whos done it before or someone spilling garbage to the recruiter. If I asked a Customer Success leader about how they've worked with marketing, I am probably going to just have to believe whatever they tell me. haha

    So long way of saying, I'd love to learn enough (and I'm getting there) around questions to vet around to hopefully save my client some time and most importantly distinguishes the great from the average.

    Finally, I bought the book! : ) Love the suggestion as a key piece of this role for them, is going to be aligning the entire organization to have a CUSTOMER SUCCESS CULTURE so it's not just another slogan they have on the wall. : )

    REALLY appreciate your feedback and willingness to help Jan! Truly!

    Mark Hyman
    Verge Management Group

  • 5.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-27-2021 08:10
    Hi Mark,

    One thought regarding this question:

    If I asked a Customer Success leader about how they've worked with marketing, I am probably going to just have to believe whatever they tell me.

    If you approach this topic with behavioral questions, such as "Tell me about a time when..." type questions, you'll likely get the insight you need.

    Based on your description of this role, I expect you're most interested in hearing how the candidates have worked with product and engineering in the past. I recommend asking for a specific example of their work with one or both of those teams. 

    For example, "tell me about the last time you disagreed with your head of product. How did you handle it? What happened next?"

    Asking a specific question like that will illustrate a lot more for you than something like "tell me how you work with product teams"

    Separately, I think it's really important to clarify the on-premise nature of the product, including what percentage of clients are currently on-prem and how that will or will not change in the future. You're likely to meet some great candidates who will tolerate working with on-prem but prefer the SaaS piece. That's probably ok if the company is moving away from on-prem. But if you're going to keep on-prem long term, you will want to focus on the candidates who are at least enthusiastic about learning how to grow and support on-prem customers long term (even better if they have genuine experience in SaaS and on-prem). If you hire someone who has done only SaaS and thinks they are also eager and willing to work in on-prem, they may get a rude awakening when they discover the unique challenges of on-prem on day one. Feel free to write me directly if you'd like to discuss this further. 

    I hope this helps!
    Sarah B.

    Sarah Bierenbaum
    Customer Success Executive & Consultant
    Brooklyn NY

  • 6.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-27-2021 08:06
    Hi Mark -

    I am running out for the day but just saw your post as part of my morning GGR e-mail (I am new to the platform).  I have helped put together many start-up CS (and CX) teams and protocols. I sold my last company a few years back and have just been doing pro bono work with startups from Brown, MIT, and MassChallenge.   I would be happy to get on a call with you to talk this out.  Feel free to get to know me and how I approach the problems of connecting with customers by reading some of my articles on Linkedin that I use at round table discussions with startups.

    Here are a couple that is helpful with most teams.........


    Have a good day,

    Rob Kagan

    Rob Kagan
    Boxless Consulting

  • 7.  RE: Considerations- first Head of Customer Success - Enterprise

    Posted 01-27-2021 12:37
    Thanks @Rob Kagan . I'll shoot you a note​ on LinkedIn. THANK YOU for your articles!

    Mark Hyman
    Verge Management Group