Dear Insider: What Does It Take to Find a Mentor and Become a Good Mentee?

Dear Insider: What Does It Take to Find a Mentor and Become a Good Mentee?

Kristi Faltorusso answers your Customer Success questions in our Q&A advice column, Dear Insider.

Let us know if you have a question, a story to share, or just need to vent, anonymously.

Q: I am new to being a CSM, and know that mentorship is supposed to provide a lot of value. However, I have no idea honestly how it should really work. Can you provide some general tips on finding a mentor, how to maximize mentorship and being a good mentee?

Mentorship has had a tremendous impact on my career trajectory, so the fact that you are already thinking about it should set you on the right path.

First, let’s think about what you would be hoping to get from your mentor. Are you seeking a mentorship because you’ve been told you should have a mentor or because there is something you want to work on and only someone with experience or insight would be able to help you grow?

Start by identifying your why.

After you’ve nailed your why, then you can start thinking about your what - as in what experience or expertise would you need your mentor to have. Do you want them to have domain expertise, do you want them to have leadership experience, etc. You need to identify your gaps and then figure our how their experience will help you bridge that gap.

After you’ve identified your why and the what has been sorted out, you can move to your who. The who is pretty important because of the relationship between the mentor and mentee. For example, for me once I determined my why and what, I knew I wanted my mentor to be a female who had strong communication skills and an engaging personality. The “soft” elements made ALL the difference for me and the value and impact I saw from my mentorship engagements in the past.

There are tons of mentor and mentee programs available, especially for Customer Success professionals which is a great place to start, but a lot of relationships even happen organically. Perhaps there is someone in your organization or maybe you’ve engaged with someone on LinkedIn who’s inspired you. Once you find these people, it’s perfectly fine to reach out to them and let them know that you’ve identified them as someone you’d like to have mentor you.

In an effort to make a good and strong impression, it’s important to ask, but make sure to give context and also help them understand what they might get from this opportunity, making it mutually beneficial.

At the end of the day, there is a ton of value in working with a mentor, but make sure to set proper expectations for yourself and your mentor and determine the best way to work together.

Q: I keep getting to the final interview for director roles but I fail to land the role. What advice do you have to nail this type of final interview or presentation when you’re talking with multiple people? What do most people who are “punching up” do wrong in these types of interviews?

Well good for you for getting this far in the interview process! Every hiring manager accesses things differently but if you make it to the final round in any interview process there are a few things you want to make sure you’ve conveyed:

  • You have relevant experience that will enable you to step into the role and drive impact almost immediately. This does not necessarily mean you’ve done that exact job but the experience you have has adequately prepared you for this role.
  • You understand the business challenges and have recommendations on how to address this head-on in a thoughtful and strategic manner.
  • You can lead. At a Director level, it’s likely you’ll be managing people so you’ll need to make sure that you can speak to your leadership style and how this will engage, motivate and support your staff.
  • You have a mind for business. In these roles, numbers talk. You need to be able to discuss your impact and value with numbers. It’s great if you did X, Y, and Z but how did the business change as a result of the work you did.
  • You can handle tough situations. The higher you move up, the tougher the challenges get. One day you might be speaking with a dissatisfied customer and another day navigating a difficult conversation with someone from the sales org (just an example, of course, we never have discussions with sales). The point is you need to be able to address these situations with grace, empathy, and a solutions mindset.
  • You can effectively use and interpret data. In this day and age, data is the new currency and those who know how to use it effectively will go far.
  • You are a good storyteller. In Customer Success we are selling possibilities and the best way to do this is through effective storytelling. Make sure you’ve found an opportunity in the interview process to demonstrate your ability to tell a story.
  • You sell yourself. This is not the time to be modest and humble, this is a competitive market and you need to make sure you can separate yourself from the rest. Ensure that you’ve answered every question effectively and that they have everything they need to make an effective decision about you as a potential candidate.

While these might not be the only things to focus on, if you’ve done these well and there is good alignment it should a least leave you as a top contender.

One last piece of advice I’d offer is to always make sure to get feedback. If things did not work out, follow up and ask for feedback. You might learn a thing or two OR just realize that there were better-suited candidates for the role.

Don’t give up. The right role will find you soon enough. Good Luck!

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Want to get advice from CS Insider and Kristi Faltorusso?

Send your questions for publication here. (Questions may be edited for length.)

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Q: How do you measure the ROI of CSM since they aren’t directly tied to upsell? What metrics and activities can you management measure/quantify that determines the value of a CSM?

In organizations where the CSP is not responsible for managing revenue, the main focus should be designed around the impact they believe your role should have on the customer. For example, for most Customer Success Professionals, their organizations would expect that they are capturing how their customers are defining success with the partnership and helping them get there. So let’s talk about some of the metrics that you can measure to ensure you are working towards this:

  • Product Adoption and Usage - these metrics help indicate how and what the customers are doing with your product which should reflect the CSPs ability to properly train and enable the customer on how to use the product to achieve their goals
  • Engagement - We know that highly engaged customers are typically getting more from the partnership and is a good reflection of the CSPs ability to bring value on an ongoing basis
  • Advocacy - Customers who have seen value in the partnership and have had a good experience are likely to serve as advocates, participating in things like Case Studies, References, etc.

At the end of the day, even if you don’t manage revenue, your ability to do your job well will influence your customer’s interest in staying with the partnership, so retention can still be a metric to align to.

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