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What's the ROI of your mom?

Abby Sullivan Dec 6 2019

On today’s episode, we’re calculating the ROI of your CSM. Plus, the Product Marketing Alliance drops the Product Marketing Salary Survey. And Sprinklr acquires Nanigans.



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Your mom has an ROI

What’s the return on investment of your mom?
What about the ROI of spending time with your family, friends, or kids?
That glass of whiskey after a tough go at work?

That’s what David Apple—customer success and sales guru at Notion—is asking. Along with: What’s the ROI of your customer success manager? 

A solid question we know is certainly difficult to answer. 

But after years of research and thinking about this problem at and Notion, David decided to write a blog post explaining why this question is so hard to answer.

But it looks like nobody knows the ROI of their CSMs. He references Dan Steinman from Gainsight, who says, “the natural tendency for customers is towards churn.”

In order to retain our customers, we need to dedicate resources to help them extract value out of our product. If we fail, our customers will churn. If we succeed, the benefits go beyond retaining revenue: successful customers spread positive word of mouth which makes it easier to attract more customers.

The question is not whether a CSM is a valuable asset to a SaaS business, but rather, how valuable are they? What is their ROI? How many CSMs should you hire?

After seven-plus years running customer success and sales teams at great companies like Notion and Typeform, and meeting a lot of fellow customer success SaaS leaders, David argues that nobody in SaaS today knows the actual ROI of their CSMs, and nobody truly knows what ratio of CSM to customers is optimal for their business.

But we know customer success reduces churn and increases expansion revenue, so CSMs do have a very serious purpose in an organization.

And in this article he explains why, and proposes a different approach to thinking about the optimal CSM headcount to help you build a more effective customer success organization.

We also have an episode of the ProfitWell Report that looks at the data from almost 2,000 companies to uncover how customer success impacts retention and churn, linked here.

I want to know—do you know the ROI of your CSMs? What are your thoughts on this piece? Send me a note at after you check it out and let’s discuss. 


Product marketers: move west

The Product Marketing Alliance dropped the Product Marketing Salary Survey. From America to Australia, Brazil to Belarus, Spain to Singapore—they spoke to more than 1600 product marketers to represent the industry’s salaries.

It’s the first survey of its kind and the PMA is hoping that with this level of detail in tow, product marketers worldwide will be able to put strategies in place to focus on their personal bottom line, as well as their business’.

Here are a few teasers.

  • On a global scale, on average, product marketers with strong leadership support earn almost $13k more a year than those without.
  • And for some U.S. based stats, apparently product marketers in California earn over $152k. In comparison, those in Ohio take away $95k a year. The takeaway—move out west.

We value product marketing to the highest, so we’re always keeping an eye on the PMA’s finds. We also have a piece on how to scale your marketing team without wreaking havoc on your CAC, as well as a talk from last year's Recur Boston on how the Akamai team takes a product from concept to launch, with Ari Wells, linked accordingly.


Nanigans x Sprinklr

Our neighbors over at Nanigans are officially acquired. 

Sprinklr scooped up the social advertising business this week in a perfect complement to what Sprinklr has been building for the past decade: one platform for customer experience management.

This acquisition reinforces Sprinklr’s mission to define and lead the customer experience management industry with the world’s first Unified Front Office. This helps brands manage customer-facing functions in their entirety, from marketing and advertising to research, care, and social engagement.

Because we know digital marketing cannot be ignored. And Sprinklr’s CEO Ragy Thomas knows.

“Social channels, with their ability to micro-target and personalize advertising, are quickly emerging as the preferred destination for performance advertisers.”

So it feels like this Nanigans x Sprinklr combo will fit just right. Congrats on the collaboration, friends.


Weekend Wisdom

Brendan Schwartz at Wistia is a CTO and Co-Founder "all about that new-new, unisex bathrooms, and simplicity," and he's bringing you into the weekend with insight on trusting your instincts and what it's like to realize you're a "real business."

And that’s a wrap for your December 6 subscription news. Check you back here Monday, where we do it all again.

If you have news to share, hit me up at and we'll collaborate.

By Abby Sullivan

Content Marketer

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.