Zeren Customer Success Market Insight
By Alan Fecamp. Alan is a Director in Zeren’s Commercial team, specialising in placing Customer Success and Post Sale roles into high-growth tech businesses.
Despite the gloomy economic backdrop at the start of 2023, there was plenty of positive sentiment in and around Customer Success and how it will increase its standing within GTM functions as companies placed renewed emphasis on keeping and expanding existing customers.
Customer Success was held up as an essential pillar within a business looking to survive, and potentially thrive in a downturn.
The Gainsight survey published in January showed that Customer Success was likely to be one of the least impacted roles by tech layoffs, and 44% of companies surveyed planned on hiring more CS professionals, 48% were going to maintain headcount, and only 9% planned on headcount reductions within the functions.
We verified this data with our own small sample survey and the numbers were spot on!
This was followed up by the LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise 2023 report where Customer Success came out top amongst a list of the fastest-growing roles over the last five years.
Despite the number of available CSM vacancies showing a decline in the chart below, there was plenty of positive sentiment to feel excited by.
UK Customer Success Leadership Landscape
Starting with the numbers……
- There are currently 3,033 Customer Success Leaders in the UK broken down by title as follows:
- Vice President of Customer Success – 337 (+6% YoY growth)
- Director of Customer Success – 1,419 (+12% YoY growth)
- Head of Customer Success – 1,277 (+14% YoY growth)
- 14% – the amount the CS leadership landscape has grown in the UK over the last 12 months.
- 19% – the % of the total audience with their profile tagged as Open to Work (577)
- 36 – the number of roles being advertised including the job titles above – verified across 40,000 data points.
- 45% – the percentage of female leaders in the market
- 2.3 – the average tenure for a CS leader in the UK
If you’re a CS leader actively looking for a role right now, some of the numbers above may be disheartening, particularly the number of jobs being advertised.
There is no doubt it’s a low number; however, most senior level roles are not posted online and will largely be secured via referrals, Executive Search firms, and direct sourcing.
The true number of live opportunities will be significantly higher but hard to quantify with data.
The Top Companies Employing the Job Titles
- Salesforce – 26 (21% reduction over 12 months)
- Microsoft – 25 (14% increase over 12 months)
- Dotdigital – 13 (18% increase over 12 months)
- Darktrace – 12 (200% increase over 12 months)
- Moody’s Analytics – 12 (50% increase over 12 months)
If you work through the data of the top 100 employers of CS leaders, the bias is heavily weighted towards larger technology companies as you would expect to see.
Reassuringly, despite Tech Layoffs impacting larger tech firms more noticeably, this doesn’t seem to have hit Customer Success quite so much.
Only 11 of the top 100 have reduced leadership headcount over the last 12 months.
Conversely, none currently have live vacancies being advertised – it looks like they have done their hiring and are sitting tight for now!
Customer Success Salary Benchmarking
The numbers below are based on average salaries from candidate data within the last six months: (GBP)
- Mid Market CSM – £35k – £50k + 10 to 20%
- Senior CSM – £55k to £75k + 10 to 20%
- Enterprise CSM – £75k – £95k + 10 to 20%
- Strategic CSM – £90k to £120k + 10 to 30%
- Head of CS – £100k to £120k + 10 to 30%
- Director of CS – £120-£140 +10 to 30%
- VP of CS – £140k – £165k + 10 to 30%
Market View & Trends
The tougher trading environment over the last 12 months in tech has impacted CS hiring, with fewer roles available and longer interview processes involving more hurdles. That much is clear.
Hiring companies are trying to mitigate risk wherever possible.
That said, roles are still being hired and the market has improved month on month since the turn of the year with more positions coming online and a noticeable uptick in candidates securing new jobs.
What is clear is that there is higher demand amongst earlier-stage businesses, particularly at the Series A stage where they have not previously had a CS leadership presence or are going through the process of upskilling across the GTM team as they set up for growth and Series B.
Opportunities seem to be more plentiful where SaaS solutions are sold into industries ripe for disruption, such as Construction, Manufacturing, and Legal.
It’s noticeable in these markets, the lack of maturity and knowledge around CS is driving the demand for builder skillsets who can design and execute a great CS plan for buyers and users who are less tech-enabled.
This in turn is driving greater demand for candidates with relevant target market experience.
We’re also seeing increased demand from clients within Sustainability – a particularly buoyant market against a backdrop of layoffs and cost-cutting.
Companies operating in and around “Heavy Industries” will face significant hiring challenges given the lack of relevant expertise available, with much of the current technology landscape focused on ERP and RPA vs. disruptive SaaS.
The demand for CS leaders with revenue ownership backgrounds and a history of target attainment is the highest.
Clients are looking for demonstratable evidence of collaborating effectively with Sales or Account Management to deliver expansion revenue, directly managing renewals, and demonstrating strong commercial rigour around accurate forecasting and metrics governance.
We’re also seeing higher demand for operationally driven CS Leaders who can set up functions to manage high volumes of customers. These aren’t necessarily outright Scale CS leaders but do possess the experience operating in companies with multiple segments requiring different engagement methodologies vs. more traditional 1 to 1 CS relationships.
Overall, the market is holding up OK and there seems to be some more positive sentiment returning in recent weeks.
Q2 is traditionally a busy period as new budgets kick in and we’re optimistic we will continue to see improved market conditions.