Play #1: Customer Success Qualified Leads

Teamwork makes your customers’ dreams work.

Post-sales teamwork at that → Customer Success & Account Management working together towards retaining and expanding their existing customer base.

CS + AM = Customer love 💚

In this section learn how to stand up or troubleshoot a CSQL program with practical tips and tricks from industry experts.

What’s a CSQL?

Simply put, a Customer Success Qualified Lead (CSQL) is a potential sales opportunity identified within your existing customer base. These are customers who have already shown signs of success with your product or service, and are likely to benefit from additional offerings or increased usage.

CSQL Breakdown:

  • Source: Leads identified by Customer Success Managers (CSMs), professional services, or onboarding/implementation teams.
  • Criteria: These are existing customers who show signs of potential for growth, such as high usage rates, satisfaction with the product, needing additional features or presenting a pain.
  • Closers: CSQLs are passed on to their commercial counterparts - Account Managers (AMs) or Account Executives (AEs) to further strategically investigate and ultimately win the deal.
  • Value: CSQLs are seen as high-value leads because they are pre-qualified and have a higher conversion to closed won compared to new leads. They also represent an opportunity to increase revenue from existing happy customers.

Laurie Parish, a Principal Customer Success Manager at BMC explains how she goes about surfacing a CSQL:

The Scrappy Way To Play

(Effort Level 9)

Customer Success Qualified Leads are all about people and process.

Here’s how to start doing it today:

Step 1 → Customer mentions to the CSM a need or problem that your company could address

Step 2 → CSM qualifies the lead further to understand if it’s even worth passing to their commercial counterpart, the AM

Step 3 → CSM sends AM a ping on Slack to let them know there’s interest

Step 4 → AM looks over notes and recorded meetings, and then schedules a time with the CSM to strategize

Step 5 → AM meets with the customer and asks them more discovery questions to further qualify the interest

Step 6 → AM nurtures the lead to a closed-won opportunity, or the lead is disqualified and closed-lost

How to Avoid Missing CSQLs

1. Clear goals

Where is the bottleneck in your post-Sales process? Is it “not enough pipeline”? Is it “too much pipeline but it’s not qualified”? Identify the pain (ideally, with the teams involved) and commit to the clear intention to fix it. Knowing where you’re trying to go is half the battle.

2. Clear incentives

My thinking on SPIFFs for CSMs to identify CSQLs is continuing to evolve. I used to be a “SPIFF ON CONVERSION” (so GRR+SPIFFs) aficionado, now I might be a “just incentivize on NRR” fan. The right answer is, as always, “it depends” — specifically, on your goals from above. Choose wisely!

3. Clear roles, responsibilities, ownership

Have VERY clear roles, responsibilities, ownership, and rules of engagement. Don’t try to have “co-” anything (in my experience, co-ownership results in no-ownership — but owners PLUS helpers works great). You need very distinct owners, helpers, and SLAs defined (e.g., “all CSQLs reviewed by AMs within 2 days, otherwise escalated to manager”).

4. Clear review cadences

Weekly pipeline reviews with managers is table stakes. Hashing out specifics in 1:1s is even better. But the point is, if no one is checking in on the goals and intentions of the program and progress towards it, nothing will happen — people are BUSY. If you want to avoid “internal-meeting-isis” I feel you, but then you’re going to need tooling that allows for this async (see point 7) — but don’t skip thinking through this.

5. Continuous improvement

On a cadence that makes sense (monthly? quarterly?) review your results and tweak. Not enough CSQLs logged? Consider loosening your qualification criteria a bit and review next cadence. Too many CSQLs logged? Consider training up CSMs to ask really good questions (pro-tip: you don’t actually have to make this “Sales” or “Discovery” training — turns out user research and design thinking drives at exactly the same thing). CSQLs sitting there too long?

6. Tooling support

Consider hiring something ✨Fancy✨ like Gainsight or Glowstick to make it easier to log, review and qualify CSQLs at scale. Notice how this is the last bullet? That’s ‘cause putting tooling on top of a CSQL program that doesn’t work isn’t going to magically fix it — it *will* require a thoughtful approach.

The Fancier Way To Play

Gainsight C360 has a built in CSQL feature that CSMs can leverage to significantly lessen the manual effort around CSQLs.

Once enabled, the feature helps CSMs to create lead records, track their statuses, pass leads to Sales and view reports on the value of revenue they generate.

CSMs can easily create and log the CSQL within Gainsight:

Once logged, the AM will then be automatically notified via email

Key Benefits:

• Easy to configure

• Enables a Sales aligned process and revenue attribution

• Automatic enrichment of Lead details

• Analytics demonstrating the revenue impact

Already a Gainsight customer & wanting to configure the CSQL feature? Check out how

The Fanciest Way to Play

Now let’s sprinkle in a little bit of AI

Glowstick empowers your CSQL process by automatically detecting key insights and ‘evidence’ (e.g. the customer speaking to need) from customer conversations you’re already recording - bridging the gap between Customer Success and Account Management.

Say goodbye to tedious back and forth internal meetings with CSMs to discuss leads, re-watching calls to find context or trolling through notes looking for clues.

No. More. Context. Goose-chasing!

No more asking customers the same questions over and over.

Our Founding Designer, Shruti Gupta will take you through a quick demo of how you can optimize your CSQL process with Glowstick.

Here’s a screenshot if you need a closer look:

Mini CSQL Case Study: Gainsight <> Glowstick

Gainsight is a great example of a company who has a good grasp on their CSQL process and are using Glowstick to help mature their process & augment the workflow of both their Customer Success and Customer Account Management teams using AI!

Ben Stidham, the RVP of Account Management at Gainsight, explains:

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