Why Sales and Customer Success Go Hand-in-Hand
SaaS business models have transformed the way the world looks at the sales process. What used to be a one-and-done, sign the deal, and ring the bell process has necessarily changed. Even for companies with tangible products like hardware, the sales relationship has thankfully evolved. Instead of a transactional perspective, today’s most successful organizations see sales as a relationship-driven process. Most importantly, it’s about forging long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, which has made the connection between sales and customer success even clearer.
In our “Lead with Value, Build Customers for Life” webinar, we explore exactly this idea with value experts at Segment, Star2Star Communications, and DecisionLink. Our panel was quick to point out that retention and growth of existing customers is becoming more and more critical for every type of company. As talk of a looming recession increases, this strategy is likely to become even more essential.
Start with the Business Case
At the heart of Customer Value Management is quantifying, tracking, measuring, and communicating value directly with customers. While some companies focus on this only in the sales process, value leaders actually look at it as a continuum. What starts as a business case during the sales process becomes the framework for customer success to strengthen and deepen the relationship. The business case articulates why your customers are buying your product and what they can expect. Star2Star has even embedded this within its quoting system. How you deliver on this business case will directly shape the long-term relationship you have with your customers.
A Strong Hand-off
For some organizations, the customer relationship hand-off between sales and customer success can be awkward, sometimes even a pain point. Interestingly, organizations, where sales and success sit under the same leader, seem to have fewer issues with this. Likewise, organizations that keep sales engaged in the post-sales process and incentivize sales for renewals have stronger alignment. By eliminating the need for an actual hand-off and increasing a team-based approach, clients reap the benefits.
The Power of the Quarterly Value Review
Every member of the webinar panel discussed the quarterly reviews their customer success teams have with clients. And all of them use the clients’ business value case developed during the sales process as a guide for the conversation. This is the foundation for creating that clear bridge between what the customer needed/purchased and how far they’ve gotten in the process. Using a tool like DecisionLink's ValueCloud, customer success teams can measure and clearly communicate the value they have been able to achieve.
This approach enables a radical shift in the way customer success has operated in many organizations. Instead of being the team reacting to customer issues and always putting out fires, the right value tools empower your customer success team to be more proactive. In addition to going over successes, the quarterly business review is an opportunity to triage where things may have changed in the customer’s business or what hasn’t been going well to identify the need for shifts in the business case or the introduction of best practices that might improve returns. In this way, you can engage in a deeper dialogue, align expectations with what is important for your customer’s business right now, and create forward-looking plans that deepen engagement.
Investing in Success
One key to making this approach effective is ensuring your customer success team is well versed in talking about value. These are foundational business skills, but it’s important to never assume everyone on your team is conversant or comfortable talking about value and engaging in executive-level conversations. Providing training to both your sales and customer success teams in these approaches is essential. It’s a powerful professional development benefit for your employees. And as an added benefit, by teaching your team to focus on value, you can also help educate your customers to have those conversations internally within their organization. When your team can effectively talk value, you are training internal champions, as well.
Uncover New Opportunities
With customer success well-versed in the language and process of value, finding new business potential is easier. Quarterly reviews are a compelling arena for identifying whitespace and where else your product could support your customers in other parts of their organization. This kind of commitment and understanding of their business helps you retain customers, grow your revenue opportunities, and generate referrals. The close integration with your sales efforts is obvious.
Plus, the identification and tracking of these new opportunities can become a pipeline. Capturing new applications can directly lead to additional conversation starters for your sales team. Likewise, customer success relationships are the best way to identify case studies and shareable data for your marketing efforts. Beyond just the customer they are talking to, effective customer success relationships can drive new business opportunities that reach far beyond their immediate interactions.
With increased budget scrutiny and the belt tightening that we’re already seeing in the market, value is the key to ongoing success. By integrating it in initial conversations and creating a strong linkage between sales and customer success, value provides the throughline for your customer relationships, making them naturally stronger and more lucrative in the process.
Watch the webinar for more details about how sales and customer success work hand-in-hand.