In essence, customers are your biggest source of recurring revenue. Gartner Group tells us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers. You’ve probably heard that one.
But what should you do with it? In other words, how do you make sure your customers are getting taken care of so that they don’t churn?
You can start by taking care of your customer success managers. And a huge part of that is aligning them with your sales reps.
Here’s a quick guide for aligning your sales and customer success teams…
How To Align Sales With Customer Success For Better Sales Performance:
Put yourself in CSM shoes.
Sales is the party, and customer success is the hangover — sound familiar? It’s a phrase heard often in the world of a CSM.
We’ll make this brief, but clear: Your CSMs are dealing with a lot.
Not only do they have the weight of the expectations set in the sales process, but most of them are also acting as pre-sales support, too.
To top it off, they are the face of anything that goes wrong for your customers.
We get it. All teams are busy, and everyone has a lot on their plate. But it’s important to understand what a CSM’s day is like before you build a framework of alignment.
Set clear expectations.
Getting alignment between sales and customer service can be a long process, and it will highly depend on the functions of each team (i.e. who handles renewals and upsells?).
To lay the foundation for this alignment, though, you must first define who owns the customer, and at which part of the process.
An easy way to do this is with a service level agreement (get tips on how to create an SLA between sales and marketing here). Ok, maybe it’s not easy. But it is effective.
In the SLA, customer success managers will make commitments to the sales reps.
These might include:
- Participating in scheduled involvement in the pre-sales process
- Building a document that outlines the customer experience after purchasing
- Providing sales reps with visibility into customer health
- Providing sales reps with feedback on the quality of a customer
Sales reps will also make commitments to the customer success managers in the SLA. This might include things like:
- Alerting CSMs to customer special needs before completion of sale
- CC’ing CSMs on all customer communications (from point of closed won)
- Transferring knowledge to CSMs within two days of signing on a new customer
- Scheduling a formal kickoff call within 10 days of signing on a new customer
Naturally, leaders should get feedback and agreement from both teams before finalizing and signing the SLA.
Remain in constant communication.
This must happen throughout the entire sales process. Yes, really.
Sales reps and customer success managers need to be on the same page about customer expectations before a sales is closed. They must coordinate the transfer from closing a deal to implementing the product or service. And they have to be in touch when it comes time for a renewal, as well.
This will help to expand your reach within accounts, too. Maybe your CSM talked to an executive in a different department who also wants your product for her team. Perhaps your top salesperson has a good relationship with a manager that your CSM needs information from.
What’s more than any of that though — sales and customer success teams need to communicate red flags. Effectively. Don’t let anyone make a mountain out of a molehill, but also don’t let any big issues go under the radar.
Share in wins and recognition.
This could be the most important step.
When a big deal goes through, chances are that the sales rep did not work on it alone. There was probably a CSM involved to help out. It’s important to give credit to all members involved in the sale.
Have the sales rep and CSM ring the proverbial gong together. Share the success. Grab a cup of coffee — anything that lets both team members know they are valued in the customer acquisition process. (Get ideas on inexpensive ways to recognize performance.)
Remember, happy CSMs bring happy customers. So make sure that your teams are aligned at both the top and bottom of the sales funnel.