Spoiler Alert: This sales veteran admits the sales department has a lot of shared responsibility for successful customer experiences!
First, let’s define successful customer experiences. Customer success post-sale is a combination of several factors: they are the right fit, mutual expectations are understood, have specific objectives identified, and everything is going so well that renewal will be a natural outcome, year over year. But whose responsibilities are all these? In my opinion and depth of experience, the salesperson and the sales leaders have a shared responsibility with Customer Success here, and several factors are exclusively on the shoulders of sales. My top 5…
#5 Build A Knowledge Transfer Process
Specifically for sales leaders, build a process that allows critical information to flow ‘downhill’ into Customer Success. Downhill meaning let gravity do the work, let technology assist you with a system that helps transfer knowledge at the department level and individual level. There is no shortage of tools and CRM features designed to do just this, take the time to build it correctly, manicure as needed.
#4 Be Listening
Good listening skills lead to good documentation results. While automation tools exist to help, like call recordings, the critical items shouldn’t be hidden or an easter egg hunt in a 60-minute audio file tossed over to CSMs. Salespeople should highlight and bullet point the important items with the same verbal inflections and intensity that the customer spoke with. Allow someone who wasn’t present in the sales conversation (the CSM) to be present. Listen for more than just sales triggers, listen for CSM hooks; what could our CSMs do that would outperform the status quo and competitors. Every. Single. Prospect. Will. Tell. You. all these things and more if you are a careful listener.
#3 Sell It Internally
Salespeople know how to create demand and incite curiosity, and these tactics should be deployed internally to make sure everyone is excited about bringing on an important new customer. All the more important when the engagement has complexities or challenging SLAs; CSMs shouldn’t see this as a burden, rather an opportunity to expand their capabilities and/or build their experience set. Sales have to set the table.
#2 Be The Yin And Yang Of Promises Made vs Promises Delivered
Salespeople make a lot of promises to prospects, but how many can actually be delivered? The answer better be 100%! If it cannot be delivered, it should never have been promised in the first place, full stop. The Yin and Yang are when salespeople internalize the scoreboard of promises made vs. promises delivered, and always ensure the score is dead even. This allows customers to TRUST even your wildest sales assertions because… well, everything else you promised so far has always come true. There’s a lot of potential energy at hand when your customer knows every single promise you’ve ever made has been delivered. This becomes an important symbiotic relationship, especially when the upsell sales pitches are inevitable.
#1 If It Ain’t In Your ICP, It Shouldn’t Be In Your Pipeline Either
A good fit customer is good, and a bad fit customer is horrible, never the twain shall meet! I’ll say it as direct as possible, do not stuff the pipeline with half baked, wannabe, “but it’s such a pretty logo”, or anything else that is a bad fit and false hopes. If they are not a good fit for your products and services right now, let them be. A bad fit customer is a time-vampire for CSMs, a trust-killer between Sales and Customer Success, and will ultimately cost you more than it was worth in hard and soft dollars. You know your ICP inside and out, don’t dilute your pipeline and your professionalism.