Unfortunately, most of the time when a new customer comes onboard Sales gives you the thumbs up and says good luck. How many times have you said, “I wish I knew that going into the conversation.” or had to hunt down a critical piece of information that you wish Sales could have just given to you so that you and the customer didn’t feel so lost at the start of the relationship?
Customer Success does not begin after a prospect becomes a customer. It begins with Sales determining whether the solution or services you provide will help the customer reach their desired outcome and it’s important that everyone in the organization subscribes to this philosophy.
The beautiful thing is that those folks on the front-end of the relationship have already collected critical information about the organization, their structure, goals, expectations, and more. The unfortunate reality is that most of the organizations never connect the dots between sales and customer success – leaving your customer bear the burden of repeating themselves and feeling unappreciated as a customer from the start.
Here are some ideas for facilitating better handoffs between Sales and Customer Success:
Sales sometimes tends to stop the relationship at the point of the contract getting signed. They feel as though it’s time to move on to the next opportunity and additional time spent on a prospect that has now become a customer will be a waste of their time.
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 thorough 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.
Make it Easy
We’re all busy and have deadlines to meet, people to help, and new initiatives to tackle. Make it easy for Sales to deliver the items that your team needs to make them successful. Some ways I’ve seen this done:
- Provide an Excel Sheet to fill out during the process that is focused on the customer and will help Sales reference back for later conversations. Ideally this will include items such as goals they’re looking to accomplish, who is the main point of contact, what their process looks like, potential red flags or objections, and more.
- Why it works: This provides a resource for them during the prospect’s journey and all they’ll need to do is send it along to you after the deal closes. Note that this should make their job easier – so let them know you’ll build it for them and ask what they want included.
- Enable fields in your CRM that sync over when the customer has closed. This is like the Excel idea but operates in an area where they’re already engaged and filling in information about the prospect or customer.
- Why it works: Hopefully your team is operating out of a Customer Success Software or a CRM rather than having to piece together Excel sheets and a myriad of different tools to serve your customers. By having your sales team fill out important information directly in the CRM, the data will sync directly back to where you and the team operate from allowing you to run reports, quickly segment based on desired outcomes, and to kickstart the customer’s relationship without having to ping Sales with questions every few minutes.
Set Time Aside
Plain and simple. There’s no substitute for a 10-minute conversation with Sales about how we can make the customer successful from their first day with the team.
While the previous items listed may get you the information that is critical for launching an OK relationship, meeting with Sales can add a unique angle that may have otherwise not been noted. Make it worth their time and make sure to thank them for meeting with you to uncover those nuances that can make all the difference in a customer relationship.
Show them the Value
So, you’ve provided Sales with the information and materials to get them onboard with your customer success initiatives. They’re excited about the benefits these new items will have for them and your new customers.
Just like your customers expect you to deliver on the value they’ve been sold – so do internal teams. It’s time to make good on your promise and make your customers successful which will lead to benefits for Sales down the line. Make it a point to identify those opportunities for referrals, ask for a review when appropriate, and close the loop with the Sales team.
These are only a few ideas on how to make the sales handoff process just a bit easier on everyone involved. By adding perspective, making it easy, setting time aside to collaborate, and to return the favor by delivering the value you presented – everyone on your team will benefit.
Customer Success Around the Web
- Anatomy of a Customer Success Quarterly Business Review: At some point, you’ll be blindsided by a customer who cancels their service out of the blue. If that hasn’t happened to you yet, it certainly will at some point. Nils Vinje talks about how you can mitigate that by engaging them with QBRs.
- The Importance of User or Customer Onboarding: Customer Success is not limited to one part of the customer lifecycle, and Customer Success Management is not limited to simply helping the customer get up and running at first or to save them from churning later. Rather, when a company has Customer Success as their operating model, they see every aspect of the customer lifecycle and every milestone of the customer journey as just as important as the rest. Lincoln Murphy digs in further here.
- Which Customers Do You Want To Keep?: There is an old joke in the dental world that a patient asked his dentist, “Which teeth should I floss?” The dentist answered, “Only the ones you want to keep.” Customer Service is the same. Shep Hyken tells a great, quick story over on his blog here.
Word to the Wise
Business2Community interviews Emily Miller, former CSM at Leadsift this week on why it’s so important to be proactive.
“At LeadSift, we made sure to develop our product with our customer in mind. Before rolling out a new feature, for example, we would talk to customers first and use their feedback in the final product. This does take more time and energy up front, but it’s better than having 6 people in a room creating something that our customers don’t need. Our approach allowed us to create a product that is more relevant and valuable for our users.” – Emily Miller