May 18, 2018

Read Time 4 min

Strategies for an Effective Partnership between Customer Success & Sales – Part 2


Last week we published the first part of this post on nailing the customer handoff between sales and customer success – where we talked about the importance of a quality hand off, how to purposefully resent the relationship, and recommended changes to align Sales and Customer Success.

This week we will continue with this topic and cover knowledge transfers and feedback loops.

Shift from Handoffs to Knowledge Transfers

If you ask a CSM, they’ll tell you they never see the backside of a Sales rep faster than after the rep closes a deal. On the one hand, given the challenges we’ve talked about in the first part of this post, this is understandable…but it’s not acceptable. This is the equivalent of professional ghosting, which is a huge source of friction for the Customer Success team and is harmful to your customers. We know there is a lot at stake with the handoff to Customer Success, so how do you avoid the customer from feeling like they’ve been ghosted by their Sales rep?

Here’s five tips.

  1. Give Sales Perspective

You must get buy-in from Sales and explain the impact that it can have on their own side of the house. By providing a through handoff and setting the Customer Success team up for early wins – they’re going to benefit from those customers providing new customer referrals, acting as advocates and references for your company, participating to be a part of a case study, and leaving positive reviews on 3rd party sites like G2Crowd and Capterra.

  1. Make it Easy & Clear

If you do not provide clear expectations and an easy way for Sales to capture the information you need/want, then don’t be surprised when their notes during the sales process end up – at best – being on long conscious stream of thought “handoff note”. A once of proactive note-taking from Sales is worth a pound of best guesses later in Customer Success.

  1. Define What is Important

You’ll also want to decide what pieces of data are must haves from Sales for you to get started on the right foot with a new customer. Beyond requirements of certain fields in your CRM here are some other possible pieces of information that you might want to consider necessary for this knowledge transfer:

  • The customer’s top priorities, motivations, and expectations
  • How success is defined and will be evaluated within their organization and what will be the key KPIs
  • Stakeholder roles within the account and relationship history
  • Potential issues within the organization and/or within the process and abilities to deliver on expectations
  • Customer’s hot buttons, particularly issues with previous solutions
  • Compelling events or timelines
  1. Make it Accessible

Sales should be highly encouraged to fill out key information throughout the sales process, while it’s still fresh in their heads, instead of just trying to do a knowledge dump at the very end. Also, this information should live somewhere where everyone within the organization can access it. Having these globally accessible notes will help keep everyone on the same page with the customer.

  1. Be Collaborative

Here is an example of what a collaborative handoff of a customer might look like between Sales and Customer Success.

  • Sales Fills Out Knowledge Transfer Fields – Internal policy that someone from CS and/or On-boarding will not be assigned until this is complete.
  • CS Reviews Knowledge Transfer Fields – CS should have the opportunity to review the info before speaking with Sales, so they can come to the sync prepared.
  • Internal Discussion between Sales & CS – This is the opportunity to get more color and detail as well as to flesh out gaps in the notes that are being passed over.
  • Joint Introductory Call with the Customer – Demonstrate directly to the customer that your teams are collaborative, and that your company cares about them having a successful start.

Prioritize Bi-Directional Feedback Loops

It’s pretty simple – if everyone learns from one another, everyone improves.

After there’s been the identification of a poor fit customer or a customer has churned it’s important to loop back that information to Sales. As you can imagine this can be a touchy conversation, so some ground rules should be set. Here’s rules for both sides of this debrief conversation.

Rules for Customer Success Rules for Sales
This is not a session to berate, but rather educate This is an opportunity to learn, resist being defensive
Support your feedback with data Have a proactive plan to share feedback with the rest of the Sales team
Come prepared with helpful advice and recommendations Commit to not repeating past mistakes

Sales should also have the chance to provide feedback they are hearing from the field to help complete this communication loop. For example, they can share tends in feature, data, and integration requests they are getting from prospects. Here’s some suggested guidelines for this conversation.

Rules for Sales Rules for Customer Success
Support your feedback with revenue potential Listen for opportunities to address prospect requests with creative uses of current features and/or services
Prioritize your feedback based on data If prospect requests match customer requests, be prepared to show your support through data
Avoid isolated requests – they weaken other requests You must invite the Product team, since they are the ones that can put developments into motion

Once you start a feedback loop don’t stop. Your business, product, prospects, customers, and processes are always changing and evolving. Feedback shouldn’t be isolated or only done when there is a problem. Customer Success and Sales should communicate consistently and openly.

Between these two blog posts, we hope you learned tips to clarify and strengthen the relationship between Customer Success and Sales to nail the customer handoff every time!

Blog Author: Abby Hammer, VP Products, ChurnZero

Customer Success Around the Web


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