CSM Summit 2022 – James cook


I like how James set up the conversation so much that I decided to take notes and publish my thoughts on his presentation as I listen to it.

He starts talking about high performance and focuses on Mindset. Gain the confidence to run our role well and then goes into defining what CSM Energy is and how it translates to the business.

CSM Energy is inclusive of :

  • Sales = Enthusiasm and Opportunity
  • Customer = Connection and Status
  • Revenue = Stability and Possibility
  • Delivery = Impact and Value
  • Refinement = Improvement and Growth

James questions, How confident are you in the sales side of the role? I’d say highly confident. I enjoy working with customers to figure out what is the best direction for them. Generally, we, as CSMs and CSM leadership are always working with customers to help them problem solve, and problem-solving, is the foundation of new sales and continued growth.

Confidence and consistency make you successful. It’s interesting for years I’ve always believed that sales is consultative. I think I first read the book SPIN selling almost 20 years ago and it fit my understanding of solutions selling. Helping a customer get what they want, need, and what will make them successful.

One of the best points James makes is to have the conversation on ROI at the beginning of the relationship. Then all you have to do is deliver and you’ve already sold the renewal. I love this because ROI is really the expectation-setting conversation. It’s not a hard conversation at the beginning of the relationship and if you don’t over-promise then it’s easy to deliver. An important point not made in the presentation is that Monthly ops and Quarterly Business meetings are the perfect times to review progress towards the ROI and are useful for updating expectations. They should set you up for the renewal discussion and the renewal should be used for a new ROI discussion as well.

A few other key takeaway items:

  • Forget the title and what is the role? It’s to help the client to get the most from your organization.
  • Avoid certainty and embrace discomfort. – Think how can I improve.
  • This has happened So I Will ….. A format for moving to action and avoiding fear and paralysis.
  • If you are not hearing it’s too expensive 20% of the time it’s too cheap. If you’re hearing it more than 20% of the time then you’re too expensive.
  • James asks what our biggest barrier is after giving 6 options. I believe mine is the most typical of CSMs, people-pleasing.
    • Being people pleasers – it’s better to have tough conversations early to support the long term for relationships. Newer CSMs tend to be afraid of tough conversations.
    • A mantra I learned from my time at Manhattan Associates and still like to use with my teams today is “Bad news does not get better with age.” Tell em’ and tell em’ early.
  • Role-playing – CSMs are the best solutions sellers there are because we are working with the customers on a daily basis and know their needs. Developing the solutions selling skills is critical to the success and role-playing is a great way to do it just like the sales teams.

Overall I think James Cook’s presentation from Next Level provided a valuable tool for personal insight for the CSM and enjoyed the learnings provided. While not all CSM organizations require the same skill sets James addresses formally all CSM need the skill sets he discusses and all can benefit from listening to this presentation


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