top of page
Search

Customer Success Stakeholder Management: Identifying Client Stakeholders So You Can Manage Them Effectively

Your client stakeholders may all work at the same company, but that doesn’t mean they’re all on the same page. 


That's a hard lesson many Customer Success professionals learn at some point in their careers.


One moment, they're blindly chipping away at their action plan with their point of contact. They feel like they're making progress and tasks are getting completed. And the next, they're on a Quarter Business Review call getting grilled by the executive stakeholder who doesn't agree with the priorities and plan forward.


When the stakeholders aren't aligned, a lot is on the line. Churn is the biggest worry but there's also CSM credibility, trust and momentum that get impacted.


That's why stakeholder management plays such an important function in Customer Success. And it starts with understanding who the different stakeholders are and how to best engage with them throughout the partnership.


In this article, we’re diving into three stakeholder profiles (that’s all we need) to help you get you can approach stakeholder management strategically.


Stakeholder profiles 


You might’ve heard of different categories for stakeholders like “executive sponsors,” “decision-makers,” “champions,” etc. It’s not wrong, but to keep it simple, we’re going to place our core stakeholders in three buckets: 


stakeholder profiles buyer, decider, and user in customer success


Let’s take a look at each one.


Buyer

  • Who are they? This is the individual or group responsible for the financial transaction of purchasing the product. They have the authority to find the budget and make final purchasing decisions.

  • What are they interested in? Buyers are primarily focused on the cost-effectiveness and ROI of the product. They want to know about pricing, potential savings, and the financial benefits of adopting the solution. (They care about MONEY!)

  • What they don’t like? They are not interested in the technical specifics of how the product works or detailed user functionalities that don't directly relate to cost or ROI.

  • What’s music to their ears? Showing value/ROI and aligning product benefits to their overall financial goals and strategy. You're winning if you can give them a data point that helps them tell a story in their next board meeting! 

Decider

  • Who are they? Deciders are executive sponsors and influential stakeholders within the client's organization who may not directly make the purchase but have significant influence over the buying decision. They can include department heads, senior executives, or any key influencer within the organization.

  • What are they interested in? Deciders, such as executive sponsors and influential stakeholders, are interested in strategic advantages, competitive differentiation, and long-term benefits of the product. They look for how the solution aligns with their broader business goals.

  • What they don’t like? They typically don't want to be bogged down with operational details, granular user feedback, or features that don’t directly impact strategic outcomes.

  • What’s music to their ears? They also care about value/ROI! They want to see how the product/service capabilities align with their organization’s strategic objectives. They want you to show them how your product is “moving the needle” and highlight the long-term benefits of continuing with your product/service.

User

  • Who are they? Users are the individuals who will directly interact with the product on a day-to-day basis. This group includes those implementing the product and end-users adopting it as part of their workflow.

  • What are they interested in? Users are interested in the product's usability, functionality, and support aspects. They care about how the product will make their daily tasks easier and more efficient and how well it integrates into their existing workflows.

  • What they don’t like? Users are usually not interested in the pricing structure, contractual details, or strategic business benefits that don't affect their direct interaction with the product.

  • What’s music to their ears? Enablement! They want training, support, and resources so they can confidently adopt the product and be satisfied using it. Feedback loops play a big role here to get insights on user experience – hear them out and implement improvements.

Now that we’ve figured out who’s who and what they like/don’t like, our next step is to figure out how we’ll keep these stakeholders on the same page. 


Stakeholder Management Using RACI

RACI, an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed, is a powerful tool designed to clarify roles and responsibilities in any project or set of tasks.


It's particularly useful in environments where collaboration and clear communication are key to success (like in CS). Here's a breakdown of what each letter stands for:


- Responsible: These are the individuals or teams who actually do the work. They're the ones with their hands on the project, executing tasks and activities to reach the objectives.


- Accountable: This person is the ultimate decision-maker and the one who signs off on the work. There's typically only one accountable person per task or deliverable to ensure clear ownership.


- Consulted: These are the people who provide input based on their expertise/role. They're consulted during the process and their feedback is considered crucial for the success of the project. They are part of the conversation but are not doing the work directly.


- Informed: This group needs to be kept in the loop but is not actively involved in the decision-making process. They are updated on progress and decisions, ensuring transparency and that everyone has the information they need.


For CSMs, leveraging a RACI chart can significantly streamline stakeholder management and enhance clarity within client projects. Here's how CSMs can use it:


  1. Clarify Roles: By defining who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task, CSMs can eliminate confusion over who is doing what. This is especially beneficial when dealing with multiple stakeholders from different departments or levels of authority.

  2. Improve Communication: Knowing who needs to be consulted or informed at each stage of a project ensures that CSMs communicate effectively, keeping relevant stakeholders engaged and avoiding information overload for those who don't need detailed updates.

  3. Enhance Accountability: With clear accountability, everyone knows who holds the final decision-making authority for each task. This helps in managing expectations and streamlining the decision-making process.


Here's your RACI in action:


RACI for customer success client stakeholders

You can use this RACI or change up the responsibilities/roles as you wish, but what’s important is that you implement a model like this to keep your stakeholders aligned!


Consult your RACI whenever you need to take any action on an account.



 

Getting buy-in, maintaining engagement and project momentum starts with stakeholder management. If you're a CSM, creating your stakeholder management strategy is a great place to start (especially when you're welcoming new accounts).


Comments


bottom of page