Aligning Sales and Customer Success for Optimal Growth
Aligning Sales and Customer Success teams is now more important than ever. Learn how these entirely different teams can collaborate to drive growth.
Published: 02 Oct 2023
8 minutes read
We've all heard about how Sales and Marketing should go hand in hand. Yet, with businesses focusing their attention on aligning revenue-generating activities with promotional and awareness campaigns, the Customer Success department can be overlooked.
While there’s a degree of disparity between Sales and Customer Success, with the former focused on conversion and the latter on retention, there’s a common underlying goal that both teams aspire to achieve. That is, both departments want to deliver a positive customer experience.
When your business has a loyal fanbase, your customers will be happy to provide testimonials and be featured in case studies, and this social proofing can yield more opportunities. After all, 86% of customers are willing to pay more to a business that delivers a delightful customer experience.
Sales and Customer Success need to collaborate with each other more than ever before. When you align these two teams, you'll secure more revenue and reduce your customer churn rate.
In this article, we'll highlight the key steps you need to take to align both your Sales and Customer Success teams so that they're on the same page. But first, let's briefly explore why there’s a disparity between the two departments.
Why Are Sales and Customer Success Teams Siloed?
Despite both departments working for the same company, the way each team operates is remarkably distinct. Below, we delve into the three key factors that contribute to the misalignment between these two departments:
1. Team objectives
Sales and Customer Success teams each serve their own distinct purposes.
Sales representatives are target-driven and are focused on closing deals to generate company revenue. They often overlook what might happen after the sale, assuming that Customer Service teams will handle it.
On the other hand, members of the Customer Success team are more concerned with exploring cross-selling and up-selling opportunities to ensure customers' goals are fulfilled.
The challenge arises when a team member isn't aware of the context surrounding the deal negotiated between the salesperson and the customer. This can compromise the customer experience, as the consumer may find themselves having to repeat information, which can be frustrating.
Discover unique strategies and insights to help you align your Sales and Customer Success teams by speaking to our CRM experts.
2. Key metrics
While goals define the primary function of a team, metrics are the indicators of our progress towards achieving those goals or potential shortfalls.
There are a variety of metrics that need to be tracked to gauge the success of Sales teams. These include Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Return on Investment (ROI). It's certain that each salesperson closely monitors their individual performance, particularly when commissions are at stake.
The Customer Success team, on the other hand, has a more holistic objective. They’re focused on minimising customer churn and boosting retention. You also need to account for their extensive Customer Success metrics which include:
- Customer Health Score
- Net Promoter Score
- Qualitative Customer Feedback
- Customer Churn Rate
- Monthly Recurring Revenue
- Customer Lifetime Value
- Customer Retention Cost
- First Contact Resolution Rate
- Customer Satisfaction Score
- Renewal Rate
3. Customer Journey
Studies have shown that over 85% of customers desire proactive communication and engagement from businesses.
However, in many cases, Sales teams engage with prospects at various stages of the buyer's journey but often cease communication once the deal is closed.
The issue arises when the Customer Success team needs to refer to the deal when interacting with the customer. Lacking context about the deal, the Customer Success agent must contact the salesperson for more information. This disrupts the buyer's experience, as the customer is left waiting for a response.
Ideally, all the information about the sale should be readily available to the Customer Success agent, eliminating the need for them to repeat themselves and ensuring a smoother customer experience.
Sales and Customer Success Alignment: Key Steps To Take
When both the Sales and Customer Success teams are in sync, they significantly improve their ability to provide a seamless customer experience.
This alignment creates a cohesive journey for customers, starting from their initial interaction with a sales representative and extending to any post-sales inquiries. However, achieving this level of service involves several multi-faceted steps behind the scenes.
In this section, we’ll outline the key steps necessary to ensure that both teams are on the same page and can deliver a unified customer experience.
Learn how to create a customised strategy for aligning your Sales and Customer Success to your company's primary objectives by consulting with our CRM expert.
1. Create a Unified Customer Journey Map
Both teams should collaborate and create a customer journey map outlining each stage a customer typically goes through, starting from the initial contact and progressing through to finalising a purchase to making post-sales inquiries.
This collaborative effort helps both teams visualise the dynamics at play in each step of the customer journey, fostering a better understanding of each other's departmental roles and functions.
Gather key members from both teams for a workshop. You can document the journey on a whiteboard or use digital platforms like Miro or Lucidchart, especially if your teams work remotely.
During the workshop, pay particular attention to identifying the key touchpoints where Sales assigns tasks to Customer Success and vice versa. For each of these touchpoints, the teams should engage in discussions to address the main pain points that often arise in these interactions.
2. Set Shared Goals
It’s crucial to establish common Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for both Sales and Customer success. This practice fosters a sense of shared responsibility between the two teams.
To facilitate a smoother alignment process, these shared goals should be both realistic and attainable. But, more importantly, these objectives should align with the wider company goals.
3. Regular Cross-Team Meetings
It's essential to consistently review these goals and promote ongoing collaboration between teams. To enable this, you must organise regular cross-team meetings, which can take place weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
These meetings serve as an excellent opportunity for sharing insights, discussing specific accounts and addressing potential issues. When hosting these meetings, keep the following in mind:
- Meetings should be concise and action-oriented: Avoid unnecessary tangents and stay focused on achieving the meeting's objectives.
- Clear Agenda: This helps to set expectations and guide discussions. It’s good practice to share the agenda in advance to allow both team members to prepare.
- Follow-up and Tracking: After each meeting, highlight the follow-up tasks and who will be actioning them.
4. Leverage CRM Systems for Seamless Communication
It's crucial to make use of a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that functions as a single source of truth.
A properly implemented CRM system enhances collaboration, streamlines processes and contributes to improved customer satisfaction. Plus, when all your customer information is housed in a CRM, it helps prevent data inconsistencies between the two teams.
While there are multitudes of CRMs on the market, it’s vital you select a platform that can be customised to meet your requirements. Additionally, considering the advancements in Artificial Intelligence that automate repetitive tasks, platforms like HubSpot Smart CRM, introduced this year, have the potential to revolutionise the way Sales and Customer Success teams engage with their customers.
These AI-driven platforms can cut down admin time for the sales team by two hours, which is valuable time they can use to spend more time with their customers.
That said, whichever platform you choose, make sure both the Sales teams and Customer Success are trained on the system so they can fully adopt it.
How To Measure the Success of Sales and Customer Success Alignment
In the aforementioned section, we briefly touched on having shared goals. To see if your collaborative efforts are driving results, you need to agree on key metrics that help you determine if both your teams are aligned with your goals.
While each team is unique, our experience working with clients suggests that the following key metrics should be taken into account, as it will give a strong indication of your success.
Customer Retention Rate (CRR)
This metric provides insight into how well the company is maintaining its existing customer base over a specified period. A high retention rate suggests that customers are satisfied and see value in the products or services.
On reviewing the CRR, both Sales and Customer Success can work together to pinpoint the key factors contributing to this high retention rate. This way, they’re able to focus on replicating these factors in their interactions with new and existing customers.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
As the name of the metric suggests, the CSAT measures how satisfied customers are with the company's product or service. This information is often collected from surveys.
Ideally, Sales should set realistic expectations with customers, and Customer Success should deliver on those expectations. Regularly reviewing CSAT scores and customer feedback can help both teams understand where gaps might exist between what is sold and what is delivered, allowing for proactive adjustments in strategy.
Upsell & Cross Sell Rate
This metric quantifies the additional revenue generated from existing customers through upsells, cross-sells, or additional purchases. A higher rate indicates that customers are finding value in the product or service and are willing to invest further.
Customer Success teams can identify opportunities for upselling based on customer needs and usage patterns, while Sales teams can use this information to tailor their approach and effectively close these opportunities, with a higher-value deal.
Driving Growth Through Alignment of Sales and Customer Success
In the context of business growth, two critical channels—Sales and Customer Success—play pivotal roles in achieving success.
Sales are responsible for driving revenue generation, while Customer Success ensures the retention of customers post-sale and encourages repeat business. Aligning these two functions isn't merely a strategic move; it’s been proven to be a catalyst for profitability and accelerated revenue growth.
However, many organisations grapple with the challenge of having isolated Sales and Customer Success teams, which hampers collaborative efforts. Different objectives, metrics, and handoff points often create divisions within these departments.
To address this, businesses should use a structured approach to align both Sales and Customer Success. Both departments play a fundamental role in delivering a positive customer experience, and when two teams come together, it’ll help your business thrive in today’s competitive landscape.