Sales and Customer Success: Key Differences and Similarities

Sales and Customer Success: Key Differences and Similarities

Sales and Customer Success go hand in hand to bring out the best in a business’ performance. But what are their key differences and similarities? Check out.

Sales and Customer Success: Key Differences and Similarities
Sales and Customer Success: Key Differences and Similarities

We chat a lot on the sales and marketing duo, but do you know what we don’t talk much about? The newbie alignment of sales and customer success. Of course, there was a time when it was just customer service and sales in the question. But now that time has changed, so has the equation.

One of the most important things to realize is that the customer success plan is simply not taking your sales a notch up and rephrasing it with the term ‘customer success’. Each role is extremely important for your business’ growth.

However, the focus and goals for each of those three roles are very different and yet similar in some way.

Unfortunately, many customers experience a disconnect between the initial sale and their continued engagement. Companies that focus too heavily on the pre-sales processes can easily ignore the needs of their customers’ success, leading to greater chances of churn and less engaged customers with a shorter lifespan. Therefore, the contribution of both roles must go together.

So, where do the roles overlap? And how does each of these roles play their pivotal duties? Crucially, how do these individual roles aid in the success of the business? Get your answers straight in here.

Can sales and customer success be friends? 

Baby Trial Phase

When a client sets his foot into the initial free trial period, which is when the sales and customer success overlap. The sales team would still ‘own’ the user and be in charge of nurturing the relationship and converting them to a paying customer.

The conversion to paying customers is a clear handoff point. As it is at that point sales typically relinquish the client to the customer success team.

Needless to say, customer success is the newborn from the need for sales, subscription, and lifetime focused businesses to retain and revamp their existing clients.

Upsell and Cross-Sell

To keep Sales engaged in the retention process, the customer success teams must notify Sales when there’s an opportunity to upsell within that account. That way, it’s in their best interest to keep up with the sales’ success.

Not only that, but CS can also nurture a positive partnership with Sales by helping them close upsell and cross-sell with supporting data and analysis.

Identifying Target Customers 

By getting Sales and CS on the same page is a useful system where both parties can log into to view past actions, account history, and live customer health. Further, a unified system for record and planning goals moving forward puts everyone on the same page.

This will also lead to some serious accountability to each other for their part in pushing the agenda forward for each account. When clubbed together, both of them can boost up the company’s growth and quality.

identifying target customers

Interactions with customers

Sales and customer success teams can collaborate when they interact with customers. The sales team is the one who is first connected to the customer. They are expected to build a good relationship with the customer. Sales teams need to chalk out the right plans for customers and not oversell their product or company. This is important since they will hand off the company to the customer success team.

The hand-off to customer success needs to be smooth. For that, they need to keep customers abreast of the process. This will make the transition smooth. When the customer success team becomes responsible for customers post onboarding, it is important to ensure they have frequent interactions and discussions. If there are any issues that customers are facing, it is important to mention them to customer success teams. The sales and customer success teams need to interact with customers for their own functions. Customer success teams need to be positive with sales teams to collaborate on multiple areas of customer interaction.

When the sales team signs the contract, the customer success team must fulfill that contract. Customer success teams must fill the gap between what the sales team promises and what is possible. The sales and customer success teams need to be on the same page to increase customer confidence, improve growth prospects, and more.

Key Objectives

The key objectives of sales and customer success revolve around customers. For sales, it is to bring in more customers. For customer success, the key objective is to retain more customers, keep customers satisfied, and ensure customers are loyal to the company. The customer success team must ensure that key objectives include the priorities of the sales team. You must also identify risks customers face for each team. There are common risks as well. For the sales team, it will be that customers do not see value in the product. Customer success teams focus on improving the value derived by customers from the product. While the sales team makes it possible to bring in new customers, the customer success team needs to ensure that customers are successful. A successful customer relationship will be cemented when the key objectives of the sales and customer success team align. The sales team needs to add their observations about customers so that customer success teams can consider those unique aspects. This will ensure they can drive renewals and expansion revenue.

The sales-customer success alignment will help provide better insights and communicate expectations better. Good teamwork between sales and customer success will help deal with newly uncovered issues across the journey. This creates confidence in customers since they know the company will answer all their issues and queries. A best practice would be to ensure the sales and customer success teams are connected with each other. The sales team needs to fill out a handover letter so that the customer success teams can take the implementation process forward.

The Unlikely Differences 

Targets and Focus

While sales focus primarily on the conversion aspect, customer success deems the customer experience as the priority. Customer success happens only after a lead converts from sales.

And their work involves both the retention and engagement portions of the customer lifecycle funnel.

During a trial phase, it is the first and foremost duty of the sales team to bring in a ‘yes’ from the prospect and close the deal. The CS teams’ work starts thereon. It is then where the customer’s success plans to onboard the new customer and help the newbie clients see the value and service.

Key Metrics used

However, the metrics used to evaluate the rates of sales and customer success differ in ways. Let us start with Sales metrics. 

1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Tracking customer acquisition cost (CAC) allows you to understand the costs associated with growing your business and expanding your customer base.

This is especially useful for startups attempting to scale quickly or demonstrate their value to investors. Knowing your CAC makes it easier to analyze your marketing and sales ROI, so you can optimize your budgets and allocate funds accordingly. 

Formula: (Money + Time Spent) / Number of Customers Acquired

2. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

In a subscription-based business, it is expected to regularize a recurring revenue to a monthly figure. Moreover, it gives you an exact status over how you are performing and can help to predict the next stage of your business, whether it is going good, bad, or ugly.

If monthly recurring revenue is trending upwards, MRR can be a source of motivation for your sales team.

Formula: Average Revenue per Account X Total number of accounts in that month

Customer Success Metrics 

Customer Health Score

After all, the best sign of business success is your customer’s growth. In combination with SmartKarrot’s health score, you are assured to gain leverage with a few easy clicks. Learn more here

Net Promoter Score

SaaS NPS assesses the extent a particular respondent would rate a certain service or a product. The benefit of an NPS is that it provides both quantitative and qualitative data about your customers.

Not only does it ask participants to rate their experience on a numeric scale, but it also asks them to explain their score. You ask your counter ‘the’ question: How likely are you to recommend company/brand/product X to a friend/colleague/relative?

Final Take

Once a prospect has converted, sales pass them to customer success. It is mission critical that inbound sales and customer success work seamlessly to create “a fluid, natural transition from visitor to customer to an evangelist.

Strategies and best practices of customer success have helped narrow the differences between the two terms.

Goes without saying, the newer generation has become the largest consumer demographics and this has engendered newer preferences, needs, and interests. SaaS businesses face tough competition, hence, they must ensure that a customer is truly satisfied so that they won’t churn away.

Honestly, the two roles are almost converging and the thin line between them is getting blurry. Is that the beginning of a new chapter in the SaaS business? Let time call out the verdict!37

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