Why I moved to the DARK SIDE

Why the %&$# would you take THAT job?” This is a common question I get from my life-long friends in software sales roles when they hear about my recent voluntary role change.

Starting in January, I moved into a Customer Success oriented role leading Qlik Global Consulting and CSMs (Customer Success Managers). The prior 10+ years were spent in various sales/presales/industry roles and I often heard how “pre-sales” was better than “post-sales” and not nearly as strategic or important. But I can confidently say that Customer Success oriented post-sales roles represent an equally (or dare I say MORE) important role than traditional Sales roles. Here are 3 reasons why I feel that way and moving to the “dark side” can benefit you too:

1) Industry Transition to SaaS

The past few years in the software industry have seen a massive shift from traditional perpetual based sales models towards emerging cloud-driven sales models. According to Alexander Group, a leading consultancy business focused on sales management best practices, approximately 90% of the budget in traditional enterprise sales models is spent on high-cost field sales representatives.

In the software-as-a-service sales (SaaS) model, the breakdown of field sales and post-sales customer success roles is roughly equal (at 40%) and the remainder should focus on digital marketing efforts. There’s clearly momentum towards the post-sales customer success oriented roles and that trend will only continue over time. Refer to this Alexander Group blog for more details and this visual for a summary:

2) Delivering Value and not just promising it

If you are like me and want to win, one of the best parts of working in the software sales industry is landing a big deal -- especially against your competition. While winning is rewarding, there’s something missing when you close the deal and then run off to the next sales pursuit without really participating in the customer’s entire journey.

In reality, a customer’s entire journey with a software vendor is still in its infancy when a deal is closed. The LAER model, as summarized by TSIA, shows how important it is to focus on the Land / Adopt / Expand / Renew phases of the customer journey. Customer Success oriented roles span the entire LAER lifecycle and allow you to actively participate in delivering value for your clients. In other words, you can practice what you preach and be part of the end to end process in which a customer gets value from your solutions. Here’s a visual of Qlik’s Customer Journey map and how we approach things:

3) Challenging yourself and your colleagues

One of the biggest risks to continual development is becoming complacent. It’s nice to have a job which you like and feel comfortable in, but I’m a big believer in challenging yourself and others around you to keep learning new things. No matter how experienced you are and how long you have worked in a company, there are always new things to learn and new ways to grow.

Many people feel they should leave a company to take on a new challenge – I believe that’s incorrect and there’s always ways to develop even if it means staying in the same role and just taking on some side projects or getting involved in new initiatives. They key is letting others know your interests and working with mentors and leaders to make it happen.

Transitioning into a Customer Success oriented role can be a great career move for you too. There are many different jobs including CSMs, Consulting, Education, Support, Inside Sales, etc.For me, I was lucky to have an opportunity to take a new position within Qlik where I’ve been working for over 6 years. Be sure to explore things within your company before thinking you need to look outside for a new challenge.

Next steps

Hopefully you share my excitement about Customer Success! While post-sales may be considered the "dark side" - it is balance between both the dark and light that makes a truly successful Jedi (I mean company).

At Qlik, we’re embarking on a journey to truly embrace a Customer Success oriented approach to everything we do. We have a growing CSM function, a proven and established best in class Consulting and Education team and multiple other roles like Cloud Success and Online Chat teams to support our customers. Check out this new customer onboarding website for more details and self-service material: qlik.com/onboarding as well as this this recent Customer Success blog by Qlik’s Mary Pitzer. Enjoy and as always, feedback is welcomed below!

Qlik’s @msaliter shares his top 3 reasons why #CustomerSuccess is cool!

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