Paystone is a leading North American payment and software company redefining the way merchants engage their customers and grow their businesses.
Our seamlessly integrated suite of automated payment processing, customer loyalty, gift card solutions, and now reputation marketing, is used at over 35,000 locations across Canada and the United States which collectively process over 10 billion dollars a year in bankcard volume.
We employ over 200 employees and serve as the technology partner of choice for hundreds of partners across North America. We also recently made Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 in Canada and Fast 500 North America lists.
We asked Jean-Francois to take us through a journey telling us about his career path, how he spends his workday, what advice he can share with someone starting as a customer success manager, and many other questions.
Enjoy reading this interview
Tell us about your career path?
After getting my Business and Administration bachelor’s degree from HEC Montreal University, I started my career in Consumer Packaged Goods at Kraft Foods and Molson Coors brewery where I learned about Sales and Account Management from two large, multinational, publicly traded companies.
Since I was a child, I wanted to get into Tech. Growing up I dreamt of owning a Retail Computer Store so when I had the opportunity to join InComm Payments back in 2007 I didn’t think twice. Back in the day InComm, a US company, was expanding to Canada with a very innovative solution for Prepaid Financial Services and Gift cards. I helped InComm grow sales in Canada 25X over the years from millions to billions in annual Gross Transaction Volume.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to join Paystone to lead our Customer Success efforts and take it to the next level. I feel privileged to work with such an amazing group of people from so many different countries and backgrounds.
How did you join Customer Success?
I started my career in Account Management and then moved to Customer Success. Both are quite similar in my opinion. It’s all about building relationships and delivering value for our clients.
How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?
The ideal CSM is someone who is:
Good with both numbers and people.
Always looking for ways to bring value.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?
Learn to sell. Selling is not the first thing that comes to mind for the Customer Success function, but Customer Success is generally part of the Revenue Org at most SaaS companies.
You need to protect the revenue and think about expansion opportunities with current clients if you want to deliver negative churn and help increase your company’s valuation.
As you grow into your CS career, you will need to influence both internal and external stakeholders. If you are unable to sell your plans and ideas, you will not go very far. 🙂
If you are unable to sell your plans and ideas, you will not go very far.
Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?
No two days are alike, but I always start by looking at my day/week schedule to identify the most important things I need to deliver on that day/week. Once I have identified what’s most important, defined as what’s going to move the needle, I work on it until 9 or 10 AM after which back-to-back meetings generally start. 🙂
I also usually have some time at the end of the day past 5PM to complete anything important I didn’t have a chance to complete in the morning, but I try to keep it brief because I’m a morning person and I’m most productive in the morning.
What makes you feel inspired or motivated?
The success Canadian Tech companies are having across North America and Globally
What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?
I consider myself a very creative person but have zero talent for arts. I couldn’t draw a stickman or play a music instrument even if my life depended on it.
Who do you look up to the most?
This is going to sound cliché, but Tarique Al-Ansari our Founder and CEO is a great source of inspiration for me. After immigrating to Canada at a young age, he founded two Tech startups, initially sold our Solutions door to door in the early days, and created the most amazing company culture of all the companies I worked at before.
The culture at Paystone is what makes this place so special and allows us to recruit the best talent in the market. The saying that Culture eats Strategy for breakfast is true.
What are your top 3 priorities now?
– Deliver value to our clients so they become vocal fans of our Product and Services
– Make sure we have the right processes in place to scale efficiently
– Continue to create great leaders by nurturing the leadership abilities of more junior people at Paystone
What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
Remain coachable and humble.
Follow the vision and opportunities will arise. 🙂
What’s your favorite book, and why?
The Time Management Matrix presented in this book, defined as 4 quadrants between Urgent/Non-Urgent and Important/Non-Important has been foundational for my success in business.
» Check out the 10 Books a CSM should read to advance and improve their skills.
Have you had your “I’ve made it” moment yet?
A few times, like when I transitioned from Consumer Packaged Goods to Tech and when I was promoted from an Individual Contributor role to a Manager role, but I’m far from done. I believe it’s important to celebrate key milestones both in one’s personal life and career. 🙂
What should I have asked you but didn’t?
Nothing comes to mind.
Where can people go to find out more about you?
LinkedIn is the best place to find out more and connect with me. I generally post something about business, customer success, and leadership every 2 weeks.🙂
Thank you, Jean-Francois, for sharing your knowledge and for the opportunity to know you more.
Do you have a Customer Success Leader, Expert, or Influencer you would like to know more about?