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From Sales Pro to CSM: How Tony Found his Calling as a Customer Success Manager

Name: Tony Reyes

Role: CSM II

Company: DealerOn

Hybrid or Remote: Remote

Location: Houston, TX

Tony Reyes
Tony Reyes enjoying the CSM life

Tasneem: I met up virtually with Tony to learn about his journey and how he found his calling as a CSM. Let's dive in and learn more!

Q: Tell us about your background and experience.

Tony: My background has been primarily in Sales, through various roles in both a retail, corporate and startup setting. I have been in roles from the ground up from an SDR to Account Management, along with people management experience! I am incredibly grateful for all the experiences because I feel that it has gotten me to my role today. Tasneem: That versatile experience is really good to have, especially when joining a startup. You can end up wearing many hats!

Q: How did you learn about the CSM role? What motivated you to apply?

Tony: I learned about my specific CSM role through a longtime friend who is at the same organization, albeit in a different department. I have wanted to translate my experience into CS because I am a people person through and through. I enjoy learning about people and clients, because I believe that I am able to learn a lot about them as people, what they look to achieve as a business and build rapport.

Tasneem: I believe that passion and drive to help people is absolutely vital in the CSM role. It helps you build great relationships, which is my favorite part. I’m curious about how you were able to translate those skills in the interview process.

Q: What was the application process like? How did you sell yourself?

Tony: The application process was surprisingly smooth and not long-winded. SaaS tends to get a bad rap on their 5-7 step interview process. Mine consisted of 2 interviews, first with a recruiter and finally with a few members of the CS management team. I was able to sell myself even with lacking experience in this specific vertical by tying in my previous roles in different industries, sharing my metric achievements during my time there and showing an eagerness to soak up knowledge. Tasneem: That’s awesome. I know it’s not easy to accomplish, but having confidence in your abilities and sharing that passion during the interview process is key. I’m glad you pointed that out.

Q: What are some skills from your sales background that you are applying to the CSM role?

Tony: Some skills I am applying from my Sales background in my role are upselling/soft selling, relationship building to really understand what client goals are and to apply any ancillary products to their current suite to assist in achieving those goals, and most of all just being a human, and reinforcing that. Sales people get a lot of unwarranted flak due to the nature of their business and the way they conduct it, but with a little tweaking we can make it a great deal for all parties involved.

Tasneem: Coming from a sales background, I can totally relate! It’s a partnership. It’s always about putting the customer first and building that human connection, which is far more important than anything else.

Q: What is a typical day in the role like for you? How do you work with other teams?

Tony: A typical day for me consists of QBRs with clients, fielding Support requests and communicating with stakeholders both internal and external to really understand what the feedback from clients is and where we can improve their experience and ultimately, reduce churn. I work with my Sales directors, my Implementation team as well as other CSMs to ensure projects are moving along, we are meeting deadlines and most importantly for onboarding, that we set proper expectations from day 1. Tasneem: Glad to see lots of great cross-functional collaboration! Expectation setting is crucial so good call out.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about being a CSM?

Tony: Oh man, this is a tough question! I have to say I really enjoy working with my clients, building relationships with them, as well as really understanding their journeys. Where they are today isn't necessarily where they will be in 90 days so working to get them to that point is the best part, besides the fact I work with the best team in the biz!

Tasneem: If there are too many to name, then that’s a good sign!

Q: How are you upleveling yourself?

Tony: I uplevel myself by reading industry knowledge, following CS folks on LinkedIn to really understand how it is that they apply their knowledge to their role, and also inter-departmental collaboration. There are a lot of things we can learn from one another just by speaking and relating to what we do and a shared goal.

Tasneem: Absolutely, we can learn so much just by connecting with our peers.

Q: What advice do you have for others looking to make a similar transition?

Tony: For others looking to make the same transition, understand that if you can do or have done Sales, the sky is really the limit. Sales is by far the toughest role in most organizations, and requires the most amount of time, skillset and communication to achieve your goals. The shared goals and skills we learn in Sales can easily be applied to CS - understanding that I work for my clients and having strong communication, which are main traits of someone successful in CS and Sales.

Tasneem: Agreed, I believe that having sales skills can serve you in all areas of your life.

Q: Anything else that you would like to add?

Tony: Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity Tasneem, and as a mentor and former boss once told me, knowledge is no good if you aren't sharing it with others!

That’s a great note to end on! Thanks Tony for walking us through your journey and sharing your experience with our readers. We’re looking forward to your continued success!


To learn more about the steps to make your career switch, read about the CSM Career Path and Progression or grab a copy of Success in SaaS: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Landing Your Dream Job as a Customer Success Manager in Tech.


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