Lead generation is the persistent challenge for businesses. According to Hubspot Research, 61% of marketers say that generating leads is their biggest obstacle to success.
This is why, at Sapper, we use dedicated CSMs (client success managers) to unlock success for our clients. Part email maven, part strategist, part lead whisperer – these skilled salespeople keep the meetings rolling in.
Today we pull back the curtain to show you how Sapper consistently helps clients fill their pipeline. Providing these insights will be Josh Jones, a veteran CSM at Sapper.
Read the interview below to learn about CSMs, their unique value for lead generation, and how Josh turns cold emails into opportunities that return your investment every time.
What Does a CSM Do?
A CSM is like a midwife for sales opportunities. From first touch to final celebration, they aim to help you generate meetings and close opportunities. This dynamic role juggles many subtle responsibilities to produce a sale.
“My day involves accessing client inboxes, looking at responses from prospects, setting up any new meetings, nurturing the leads that are almost ready for a meeting, and delivering to clients all opportunities that are waiting for them,” says Jones.
CSMs pay close attention to the client’s inbox because timelines matter. In fact, studies show that following up with leads in less than 5 minutes makes them nine times more likely to convert into paying customers.
“Regularly we jump back into the email,” says Jones. “We separate people who aren’t interested, nudge people who are close, always moving things forward so our clients can get a return on their investment.”
A CSM is also a strategic advisor. The best CSMs both discover and effectively manage opportunities for clients. This means that the CSM is the first to know when sales messaging isn’t resonant or when strategy needs adjustment. It falls to them to make the necessary changes and get the campaign back on the right track.
“It’s important to be up to date with our clients, their needs, and pivot the strategy as needed to meet their goals. This way, we can send the right meetings with the right people at the right time on the client’s behalf,” says Jones.
In Josh’s case, he derives this insight from years of expertise in both sales and email marketing.
“It’s all about scheduling the meetings that will return an investment for clients.”
CSMs Find and Nurture Opportunities
Moving prospects from “No” to “Yes” is a skill. Fact is, only 4% of unique website visitors are ready to buy. Everyone else needs time and assistance to decide if you’re right for them.
To this end, CSMs are masters of relationship management. Overcoming objections is their bread and butter, and most CSMs elevate nudging to an art form. Lead nurturing becomes its own growth engine (which most businesses lack) with an expert CSM on hand.
“You hear a lot of: ‘Hey, I’m not interested right now because I’m too busy’,” says Jones. “So I circle back with these prospects, always mindful of their time, but also – what’s 15 minutes, anyway? I have to sniff out when a No is disguised as a Yes, or when No means this person really isn’t a good fit. We try to get a hard No before departing a prospect,” Jones said.
A mix of persistence and intuition help CSMs dig up as many qualified leads as possible. With clients busy running their own companies, the CSM must be savvy in identifying qualified prospects.
“Of course, an impolite No is the end of communication,” says Jones. “But what about a half-hearted No? I find out what it means. Is the issue with the timing, a lack of fit, or maybe a worry about our emails being fake? There can be a lot of factors, so I find out what’s giving the prospect pause.”
A great CSM (like Josh) has a practiced sense of discernment that allows him to determine which prospects need more time, which to ignore, and how best to lead potential relationships to fruition.
“The subtle actions are key to actually moving the needle”, says Jones.
CSMs Focus On Client Needs
At Sapper, the main responsibility of client success managers is client care. This dedicated attention, over the course of a campaign lifecycle, translates to a visible and sizable difference for clients and their bottom line.
“I care for my clients. I like to help clients. We’re going to help your business grow and the results can be very dramatic. For example, I’ve closed leads for deals that I was later told saved the client’s business. When you share this with a client, it’s a powerful feeling. There’s nothing better,” says Jones.
Client success is the most compelling part of a CSM’s job. After all, successful lead generation requires the creation of a purely online relationship that ends in a mutual success. A strategic approach is a must.
“It’s not just me typing away all day,” says Jones. “I craft an email, respond, send an email, strategize, set meetings, prune disqualified leads. All this so you have time to grow your business. We free your time so you can keep moving forward. We’re like a marketing engine, and we’re a real part of people’s businesses.”
Quality Meetings Is Priority #1
CSMs guide opportunities to sale by emphasizing lead quality over quantity.
“I always tell my clients: it's easy to schedule a meeting, but how successful is the meeting going to be? The meetings must be about quality, not quantity. Nobody should be paying for meetings, only opportunities,” says Jones.
Converting qualified prospects means moving the right prospects to the opportunity stage at the right moment. It’s a results-guided process that should exclude non-qualified prospects. After all, it's wasteful to nurture leads you can’t close.
“Meeting volume is a priority, but so is outcome. Quality prospects that close are, by definition, only a few out of the many. More than metrics, we try to understand how meetings are translating into revenue, then lean into those areas,” says Jones.
Despite this, many companies look to vanity metrics like meetings volume as their pipeline dries out. This reflects a misunderstanding of lead generation best practices, or a lack of skilled operators like CSMs to make their operations succeed. A clear focus on meeting quality is part of why outsourcing lead generation generates 43% better results than in-house lead generation.
CSMs Ensure Messaging Alignment To Realize Opportunities
CSMs craft messaging strategies for clients on a personalized basis, says Jones.
“At Sapper we service 80+ industries. We’re not cookie cutters. We have to see if we’re talking the right messaging. Is it resonant? Does the content work? Does it address the right pain points? Or is the messaging broken? For best results, prospects should get a strong sense of the company in the emails,” says Jones.
Tactically, the approach is different for each client. After all, the style of outreach is largely determined by the client themselves and the client relationship.
“Before we start, we really understand who [the client] is and what they do. It’s a lot of getting to know your client personally,” says Jones. After all, the stronger the relationship on the client side, the more effective the outreach will be.
“I’m sending emails and this is the first impression,” says Jones. “This is the first point of contact. Are the emails tight and analytical? Or are they funny? We align our messaging style with the clients personality so the meetings have the greatest chance for success.”
This means adjusting tactics and messaging strategies, often on the fly, to meet unique prospects where they are. You might need to soften or slow the approach. But whatever the tactic, it's always done to improve close rates.
CSMs Are Comprehensive Sales Enablers
CSMs straddle the line between service and sales, making them irreplicable within any highly effective lead generation effort. This role offers one-to-one support for clients while ensuring pipelines stay full. Without this blend of sales enablement, message-crafting, and personalized lead nurturing – the most effective lead gen machines couldn't run smoothly. Interested in how CSMs can bolster your lead generation efforts? Book a time with one of our sales reps now.