So we’ve been talking about customer success at SaaStr longer than almost anyone else, going back to our very first posts in 2012, including on Second Order Revenue.

CLTV Isn’t The Whole Story. Don’t Shortchange Second-Order Revenue.

And we’ve used a lot of anecdotal data to suggest how much to spend on CS:

  • $2m per CSM at scale
  • $1m per CSM as you are scaling, if you can afford it
  • Maybe even more in the early days if you have cash

And our SaaStr survey from a little ways back showed many startups are indeed leaning in here, and investing more:

But you can only spend so much of each $1, that’s the thing.  Especially in this new age of efficient growth.  At SaaStr we’ve huge champions about investing early in CS.  But again, there’s only so much money.

So what’s the current, actual spend for CS?

Gainsight did a survey across all its top customers at its recent CXO conference and quantified it:

“At our CXO Conference 2 weeks ago, we shared that the customers in the room averaged 5.3% of fully-loaded CS cost as a percentage of ARR.”

Now Gainsight is fairly enterprise and its customers are pretty big.  So certainly I’d recommend spending more earlier, if you can.  But 5.3% is a number to back into, at scale.  And in fact, it’s even a bit less really than $2m per CSM.  Especially since it’s fully-loaded.

It’s a reminder CSM staffing overall is actually fairly thin at scale.

More in Nick Mehta’s great post here.

And some great related data from Churn Zero here:

Where Customer Success Reports To Typically, Who Really Owns Renewals, And More from ChurnZero

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