Best Practices for Aligning Sales and Customer Success Teams

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    Transitioning new customers from the care of a sales rep to customer success is a critical time for your company. Suddenly, the person your customer knows best is no longer the one they turn to for answers.

    And if your customer success rep doesn’t follow up on the promises your salesperson made, the customer is in for a jarring experience—one that may lead to buyer’s remorse.

    That’s certainly not the way to start out on the right foot.

    Fortunately, by creating a culture of knowledge sharing between your sales and customer success team, you can encourage a smooth transition that positions your company and your customers for a mutually beneficial relationship. Below are four best practices to help your company successfully transfer knowledge from sales to customer success.

    Build Trust Between Teams

    To successfully transfer knowledge from sales to customer success, reps from both teams have to work together closely. One great way to accomplish this is by pairing reps together.   

    Every time salesperson A lands a customer, the customer transfers to customer success rep B, every time salesperson C lands a customer, the customer transfers to customer success rep D, and so on.

    This allows your sales and customer success reps to build trust and a solid rapport. Your sales team will learn how to warm customers up for the next stage of their journey, while your customer success team will learn the best ways to further the promises and vision laid out by sales reps.

    Place a Heavy Emphasis on Documentation

    You can’t expect your sales team to successfully transfer knowledge to customer success if you don’t encourage proper documentation. It’s simply not possible.

    Sales needs to document everything they learn about their prospects so that, when a prospect becomes a customer, customer success understands the new customer’s context and history. This will help provide customers with a consistent experience and ensure they’re not answering the same questions twice.

    Customer success should also document what they learn when interacting with customers so sales can get a better picture of how their target market uses your solution, empowering them to deliver a more effective sales pitch.

    It’s important to note that manual tools such as Word, Excel, and Outlook alone will not meet your documentation needs. They encourage data silos and often lead to multiple versions of the same document floating around, with no one quite sure which version is most accurate and up to date.

    Instead, invest in a knowledge sharing platform that empowers real-time collaboration and allows users to easily store, organize, and find the up-to-date information they need to effectively do their jobs.

    Align Your Goals

    Implementing the above suggestions might be a major departure from how your sales and customer success teams currently operate. If you want to successfully navigate this change, you need buy-in from leadership—sales leadership, customer success leadership, and maybe even your CEO.

    As stated in Strategy+Business, “All successful change management initiatives start at the top, with a committed and well-aligned group of executives strongly supported by the CEO. This alignment can’t be taken for granted. Rather, work must be done in advance to ensure that everyone agrees about the case for the change and the particulars for implementing it.”

    For sales and customer success leaders to properly align their teams, they must first agree on mutual goals.

    Right now, your customer success team is most likely responsible for customer retention and satisfaction, while sales is responsible for, well, sales. If approached with the wrong mindset, these conflicting goals can prevent the two departments from working as a team.

    For example, sales may focus their attention on prospects that are easy to close, without considering how likely they are to become long-term customers. Conversely, customer success may not properly further the vision that sales laid out to attract the customer in the first place.

    Leadership must properly align both teams behind goals that benefit the entire organization as a whole.

    Get Input From Frontline Employees

    While leadership buy-in is key to effectively transferring knowledge from sales to customer success, it would be foolish to ignore frontline employees’ feedback.

    These employees work with customers and prospects every day. They understand better than anyone what the current customer transition actually looks like, and they’re uniquely positioned to identify potential roadblocks in your knowledge transfer plan.

    As stated in Fortune, “Frontline employees know the score, because they’re the ones interacting with customers, suppliers, and co-workers day-in and day-out. As a result, they know exactly what is wrong with an organization’s processes, what is frustrating customers, and what competitors are doing to take business. Making your front line an active contributor to mapping a path forward ensures that everyone has bought in and is working together toward change.”

    By soliciting frontline employees’ feedback early on, you give them a sense of ownership over the new initiative and make them much more likely to carry it out with energy and enthusiasm.

    Developing an effective and repeatable process for transferring knowledge from sales to customer success takes time and requires buy-in at all levels of your sales and success teams, but it’s well worth the effort. When your sales and success teams are aligned, customers will feel like they’re working with a unified team of people who truly care about their experience.

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