Negotiating as a Customer Success Manager

customer success negotiation

Every company I’ve worked for has offered a different mix of resources to support Customer Success Managers (CSMs) when it came time to negotiate with current customers.

At one startup, customers were mapped to an Account Executive, and CSMs would loop them into any contract discussions. In other organizations, I was the customer’s sole point of contact as soon as they signed on the dotted line. And I also often found myself in a position somewhere in between.

As the customer’s primary point of contact, CSMs are never fully insulated from negotiations.

In his bestselling book, Daniel Pink argues “to sell is human,” and perhaps an appropriate extension of this philosophy is “to negotiate is human.”

“Anyone who has resorted to bartering with a child knows that negotiation and compromise are ingrained in the human psyche from an early age.”

Although many CSMs would prefer to push the responsibility of negotiations to another team, this isn’t always realistic. Even if you have an Account Executive sell the initial deal, an Account Manager oversee expansion pricing, and a Renewal Manager handle contract renewals, CSMs will still face certain situations where they need to navigate negotiations with current customers.

Common examples I’ve encountered:

  • Negotiating a credit due to service disruption or critical bugs
  • Scoping and pricing a custom feature request
  • Offering a discount as part of an unofficial referral program

When you break the negotiation process into stages that align with the skills that CSMs already possess, Customer Success teams can confidently handle negotiations with current customers. Let’s dive into this process, starting with the hallmark of any good negotiator: preparation.

Read the full post on the Natero blog.