Okay! So now you have gotten over the customer acquisition stage and want to perfect the succeeding stages. Your marketing and sales team has made numerous promises to the customer. The customer, after getting convinced of all the future opportunities, has decided to purchase your product. So far so good! But this is not the end of the story. How you execute the sales to customer success handoff is a major deciding factor in forming a further relationship with the customer.
How you make your customer feel during the initial stage lay the foundation of the relationship you are going to forge together. If done successfully, your customer would feel elated and their decision of choosing you over your competitors would be reinforced. If not, they would feel left out and would go through buyer’s remorse. You surely don’t want any of your customers to feel that.
Leaving the customer to themselves after purchase would be the biggest mistake you could make. If the thought that “you were good to them only until they purchased your product” occurs to them even once, it could turn out to be quite detrimental in building trust. And once the feeling of distrust arises in a customer, it takes months or years to replace it with genuine trust, provided they stay with you for that long.
Sales to customer success handoff is one such stage where all these concerns can surface. It must be executed skillfully to avoid any unfavorable situations. So, let’s examine this stage in detail.
Effects of Sales to Customer Success handoff in your business
Having mentioned few scenarios where this handoff has an influence, let’s get specific to various factors it leaves its impact on.
During the onboarding, it needs far more involvement of the company with its customer than just doing the technical setup of the product. The customer success manager has to hold the strategic meetings with the customer to understand their needs and challenges thoroughly. They need to set the right customer expectations about what you can deliver and what you can’t. Bringing both the parties on to the same page starts from this stage of handoff between sales and customer success.
Time to value
Time to value is the time taken by the customer post sales to start finding value from the product for the first time. This time is crucial from the retention point of view and companies strive to keep it to its minimum. There can be a massive delay in TTV if there’s no handoff being executed successfully between the sales and CS teams.
Customer retention is not the subject that a customer success team has to think only during the time of renewals. The whole process starts from the beginning. The initial time is quite crucial for the customers to decide whether to continue with the vendor or not. In a study by Localytics, it was found that 80% of their app users are likely to churn within their first 3 months after purchase. Hence, a successful handoff is an important step towards retaining the customers for long-term.
How to create best sales to customer success handoff?
The best handoff process between the two teams creates a win-win situation for both the company and its customers. Customers feel more confident about your brand and would become an integral part of your business. So how do we do that? There is no sales to customer success handoff template that I will give here because that differs from one context to another. But below are the few ways you can pick to execute a successful handoff.
Set clear expectations
Both the parties, vendor and customer, should have clear expectations from each other right from the beginning. Your CS team should know what you would be delivering to the client as a part of post-sales service. What level of engagement would you maintain with the clients? This also depends on the size of the customer. For high net worth customers, you might want to go for high-touch engagement model.
Similarly, your clients should also be made clear about what they can expect from the customer success team.
- On what issues will they be getting support from the CS team?
- How would the CS team be engaging with them?
- On what stages of customer journey, will there be meetings and touchpoints to deliver value?
- How would the customer success team help them achieve their goals?
- What goals are achievable and non-achievable?
The clearer the communication that happens in the initial period, the better it is in removing any misunderstandings at a later stage.
Introduce right people at the right time
It is essential to keep the momentum going even after the sales process. Hence, companies may introduce their CS team right after the closing call or sometimes, even before that. There should be no gap between the two processes or the customer would fall into building apprehensions about your firm.
Your CS leader must assign the available CSM even before the sales call is closed. Then salespeople should introduce the CSM who would be maintaining the relationship with the customer going forward. Depending upon the technical complexity of your product, the CSM must take over the onboarding by introducing an onboarding specialist, the implementation specialist, and so on. CSM must be the single point of contact for all the activities a customer would go through during the onboarding phase.
Create goals for the customer
Every customer would have a different set of goals in their mind to achieve through your product. Your product functionality can be same for everyone, but they might be used in different contexts in the customer’s business. Hence, you cannot presume what your customers goals would be in their own context.
Creating goals is crucial during the handoff, for it will instill confidence in your customers for your firm. Through this, they would know you are going to partner them in helping them achieve their goals. And that’s the essence of customer success you are trying to build here.
You must have short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. These goals would give some direction to the customer and more importantly, the reasons to stay with you over long-term. If some human errors occur during the course of your relationship, you can always remind them of their goals to bring them back on track.
Apart from the above steps, there is a huge amount of internal work that is needed at your end. Proper documentation and knowledge transfer are an integral part of sales to implementation handoff. All the people from your different teams interacting with the customer must be on the same page. Whether they are talking about the client’s business goals or challenges, they all should have a clear understanding of it.
Technically, there should be a seamless integration between your CRM and customer success platform. Handoff between person to person is one thing. But handoff between software must also be taken care of so that no information slips through the cracks.
And finally, remember that sales is an ongoing process in a customer-centric organization. There might be occasions when the sales team gets to interact with the same customer again during the renewal or upsell opportunities. Hence, building relationships with every customer is a must, not just for the customer success team but even for the sales team for the longevity of the business.