There’s a point in the customer success interview process that gets a little mysterious: the task/presentation.
What is the task/presentation?
You won’t know until it gets assigned to you. Usually, this comes up during the third round of a customer success interview.
And after completing several tasks myself and working with clients who are in the customer success interview process, here are some of the tasks I’ve seen:
Handoff mock presentation
Health check mock presentation
Upselling/cross-selling a product
Onboarding/kickoff mock presentation
Renewal mock presentation
Answering customer emails/questions
It’s clear that tasks come in all shapes and sizes, so no one-size-fits-all template can tackle this assignment. But, despite the variety, there is ONE thing you need to do if you want to take your task delivery to the next level and get the job.
You can’t study for this ONE thing CS leaders are looking for in your presentation interviews.
It’s not a skill, there’s no certification, and it can cost you the job 😬
But what can you do? And what is this ONE thing?
I recently asked CS leaders why an interview presentation blew them away. Most of them mentioned that the interviewees' confidence sealed the deal. So how can we be more “confident” during our presentations? Let’s break it down in this post.
Know the material inside and out.
The whole “fake it till you make it” rhetoric… Yeah, I’m gonna need you to toss that out the window.
You can’t be confident about something you don’t know.
First, read the presentation prompt several times. If something is giving you pause, ask questions (it’s okay). Understanding the objective of your task prompt is key because it’s the thing that will ensure you’re delivering what they’re asking of you.
Make a list of the details and requirements and ensure you address them all in your deliverables.
Then, your next step is to do your thorough research.
Invest as much time as possible to learn about the tool, product, and company. Read the case studies, check the blogs, and study their website. If they are a more established company, they might have YouTube videos, events, or podcasts, which you can leverage.
Create your presentation.
I am loyal to Google Slides! I can edit the theme of the slides easily, use the speaker notes while I’m presenting so I don’t have to memorize everything, and I even have a timer to help me stay on track.
But what else should you keep in mind? Let’s pretend we’re doing a mock presentation for a health check. Here’s an outline of what it might include:
Slide 1: Have a title slide. Mention the name of the account you'll be doing the health check for (bonus points if you use their logo).
Slide 2: Agenda slide for alignment. Walk them through what you’ll be covering in the presentation.
Slide 3 (optional): If they haven’t met you yet, kick things off with a brief introduction of yourself and your role as a Customer Success Manager.
Objectives and Goals Realignment
Slide 4: Outline the objectives and goals set when the account was onboarded if they’re still new OR since you last established your success plan with them.
Slide 5: Mention any specific KPIs or targets the customer aims to achieve.
Slide 6: Present key performance metrics and data related to the account's usage and success with your product or service. This is information that would’ve been provided to you in the prompt. Use charts and graphs to visualize data trends, highlighting successes and areas that need improvement.
Challenges and Obstacles
Slide 7: Identify challenges and obstacles the customer is facing in using your product or achieving their goals. Offer insights into possible reasons for these challenges and their potential impact on customer success.
Slide 8: Propose a clear action plan to address the identified challenges and obstacles. Offer specific solutions and steps the customer can take to overcome these issues.
- Suggest additional ways the customer can leverage your product or service to achieve more significant results.
- Demonstrate how your offering can help impact their business and achieve their long-term objectives.
Slide 9: Summarize the key takeaways from the health check. Clearly outline the next steps that both you and the customer will take to work towards their success.
Slide 10: Q&A and Closing Remarks
- Prepare for potential questions from the interviewer by having a Q&A section.
🔥Hot tip: Use visuals, graphs, and charts to make the presentation more engaging and easy to understand. You can get those from their website!
With your presentation in order, it’s time to see it in action.
Practice your presentation.
You’re practicing to work the kinks out.
You’re practicing fine-tuning your delivery.
You’re practicing to make sure it all comes together.
You’re practicing to be within the time window they provided.
You're solid if you improve your presentation by at least 10%! And that’s coming from the cofounder at Google, Larry Page.
We’ll always hear about one of the greatest speakers of our time, Steve Jobs. It turns out the guy practiced a ton! He thought about "every word, every step, every demo," according to John, the former Apple CEO.
So what does practicing look like?
If you have a buddy you can practice in front of, do it! I know it’s awkward, but the stakes are low here.
If you don’t have a buddy to lean on, record yourself on your computer and play it back to give yourself feedback. You’re looking for areas where it gets boring, and you don’t sound like you know what you’re talking about, the presentation isn’t flowing, etc.
Need professional help with your CS presentation? We got you covered!
Speak clearly and slowly.
Repeat after me, “Everything I have to say is important.”
I get it, we get nervous, and we start talking at a million miles per minute, but when we step into our confident energy, we slow down, bake in pauses, and take up space.
I remember my first few customer-facing presentations as a Customer Success Manager. You would’ve thought I was getting charged by the minute by how quickly I was talking. Looking back, it’s like I didn’t want to take up their time; their time was too important.
It wasn’t until I realized what I was doing and started taking small steps to rectify my speedy chatter.
Clarity, on the other hand, comes with practice and a handful of speaking tactics to make what you’re saying is digestible to your audience. Here are some of my favorites:
Enumerate - “I’m going to show you how you can use X in three ways. First…” This is my favorite technique; it lets your audience know what to expect.
Avoid jargon - Drop the lingo and don’t complicate things. Keep your words simple and clear. You’re not impressing anyone with your big fancy words #toughlove
Don’t talk about EVERYTHING - Be concise! If you don’t absolutely need to say something, don’t. Rule of thumb: if your audience wouldn’t care about it, don’t bring it up.
Analogies - Tie your ideas to something your audience might be familiar with, like a show, an activity, or a tool.
Tell stories - These stories could be personal or about another customer’s success.
It’s hard to be confident when you’re not even you.
Don’t try to sound like someone you’re not. Yes, it’s a professional setting, but we’re not meant to sound like robots.
As you’re rehearsing your presentation, it may feel like you’re losing touch with your style and personality, and that’s because you can’t practice authenticity. So what can you do?
It’s the way you are bold enough to show up as yourself. Share personal stories to help connect the dots with your audience and present your work with sincerity.
Stay calm and carry on.
Lewis Hamilton is one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers out there.
The guy is so calm under pressure, and it’s mind-boggling.
Whenever I am in a setting where I need to remain calm, I say to myself, “You are Lewis Hamilton.” Find your Lewis Hamilton.
If there’s a time for sh*t to go wrong, it’s gonna be during the interview.
The wifi will go out.
The audio won't work.
You can’t log into the meeting room.
You don’t have the permission to share.
Handle these situations with grace, don’t panic.
The same things will happen on client calls, and the hiring managers want to know that you can work a room even when things aren’t going your way.
Enthusiasm is everything.
You can have the BEST presentation in the world: perfect slides, stories, analogies, and clarity everywhere. But if your energy puts your audience to sleep, you might lose them.
You are NOT this guy ⬇️
I dug up an article that can help us ensure we’re not losing our audience; it’s called “Is your voice making your presentation boring? 5 tips to making your voice more impressive,” and here’s the TL;DR:
Speak clearly and deliberately. This means enunciating your words and speaking at a steady pace.
Vary your tone and volume. This will help to keep your audience engaged and interested.
Use pauses effectively. This will give your audience time to process what you're saying and make your presentation more impactful.
Care about your voice. This means taking care of your vocal health and speaking with passion and conviction.
Practice regularly. The more you practice, the more confident and comfortable you'll become speaking in front of an audience.
You are ready to NAIL your presentation, not just for your interview but for any presentation you’ll give after that (if you’re going into a CSM role, you’ll be presenting regularly). If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter!