The Four Networks of Sales

Part 3: Maintaining satisfied customers: the network of a Customer Success Manager

July 30, 2020

In this third instalment of The Four Networks of Sales, we move past the buying stage to another member of the sales team—the customer success manager, who is responsible for ensuring that the client is able to get the maximum value for their purchase, and has a positive experience with the product.  The customer success manager ensures that the client is supported in any way possible to keep their experience positive – either in onboarding, technical training, or support.

Using LinkedIn’s vast network data of 690 million professionals, we analysed the professional networks of customer success managers, who perform the “maintaining” function in the sales process. In part 1, we looked at networks of account executives who prospect leads, while in part 2, we looked at how relationship managers nurture these leads into customers.  

  • the four networks of sales part 3 customer success managers

A successful customer success manager is a true partner of the buyer. They are trusted advisors who listen to the buyer’s specific challenges and craft solutions by showing them what’s possible. They deliver value to the customer by ensuring that buyers are happy with how the solution is working. They also follow up with updates that are relevant to the buyer’s business, to ensure that the solution is always delivering maximum results. 

In putting the buyer’s needs first, the customer success manager must then be able to quickly tap into their internal networks, so that they can match experts from within their company to solve the customer’s specific challenges. Hence, aside from having multi-threaded connections to customers, the customer success manager must have reliable internal connections within their company that they can readily tap into. Having strong internal resources can help ensure that there is always someone on deck to respond quickly and efficiently to the buyer’s various needs. An ideal scenario looks like the network below in Figure 1, where the customer success manager has multi-threaded connections to three customer companies (the clusters in green, yellow, and red), but is also highly connected internally within their own company (blue).

  • the four networks of sales part 3 customer success managers

Figure 1. A customer success manager’s network relies on strong, multithreaded internal and external connections.

Let’s look at the real-life LinkedIn network of a customer success manager with over a decade of experience and assess how different it is from the ideal scenario above.  In Figure 2, we can see that the customer success manager is connected to eight customer clusters, while also connected well within their own internal cluster.   One observation worth noting is that, similar to the relationship manager’s network in Part 2, majority of the customer success manager’s connections to customers remain connected by a single thread. 

So while the customer success manager has a strong, multi-threaded internal network to tap into, they must enforce the same multi-threading in their customer network.  In putting buyers first and in delivering value to the customer experience, the customer success manager should be able to have a strong two-way connection between their internal company experts and their customers, which can only be achieved by multi-threading both sides.

  • the four networks of sales part 3 customer success managers

Figure 2. An ideal network of a customer success manager is multithreaded internally (within their company) and externally (to their customers).

Action points

Multi-threading, particularly for customer success managers, is not only limited to customers and other external connections. In putting a buyer’s first mentality, CSMs must also build strong internal networks that can be a reliable resource to leverage when defining and solving the buyer’s challenges. Reflect on your internal connections: do you have multiple, multi-threaded connections within your organisation that you can tap into for support for any kind of client business need? Sales Navigator alerts help in multi-threading – it keeps you stay updated on your connections, for example when they change jobs.

As a customer success manager, keeping one step ahead and anticipating your customers’ challenges is always important. Sales Insights provides you with accurate, up-to-date information on peers and competitor performance, which helps you be ahead and plan for risks even before they arise.    


In the final part of this series, we look into the influential network of a sales leader, highlighting its key features that make it unique especially when compared to the networks of other sales professionals.