Sales to Customer Success handoff: how to nail it
This is a critical step and the foundation of the relationship with your newly acquired customer. To succeed at delivering a meaningful seamless Sales CS hand-off, there are 3 ingredients to mix and work together.
For every SaaS, there is a set of peculiar processes and a unique organization.
In BtoB, one thing is for certain though. At one point or another, the Sales rep who successfully closed a deal will pass on the responsibility of the company’s new customer to a dedicated team or person.
Hopefully, to the customer success.
This handoff is a fleeting time. But it will be the foundation of the relationship with the newly acquired customer.
And therefore constitutes a critical step.
More than a mere transfer of account ownership, if one wants to launch the path to customer success, the Sales CS handoff must be one of knowledge.
The knowledge to transfer is versatile and the process of transferring it paramount.
Why is Sales to Customer Success handoff so important?
A great handoff sets a strong foundation for your customer to see quick value from the product.
On the other hand, not providing a satisfactory handoff can lead to multiple issues :
- The new-customer may have the feeling to be misunderstood and unappreciated when the Customer Success team show up without proper context. The momentum built during the sales process and the excitement the customer has for using your product can dwindle rapidly.
- Going in unprepared and asking already answered questions can severely diminish the CSM’s credibility. The CSM starts off on the wrong foot, and all upcoming interactions will be dedicated to firefighting and re-building trust with the customer in addition to performing the onboarding tasks.
- Lack of accountability for the hand-off tasks can lead to confusion within the Sales and CSM teams and leads to finger-pointing when things go wrong.
The recipe of a knowledge-based Sales to Customer Success handoff
The salesperson needs to be able to effectively share the information they gathered about an account during the sales process with the customer success team.
If a deal has spanned over a few weeks or months and a great number of discussions with various participants has taken place, the last thing the newly acquired customer will want (or accept!) is to repeat what they have been saying for so long.
Remember that your company is seen (and should always be seen) as a single entity by your customers. What has been said once should be known and understood by all. Or at least it should be easily accessible information.
More than ever before (or after) the Sales CS handoff is the right time to share and transfer the aggregated knowledge.
In addition, the customer shouldn’t even feel the handoff process; it should all be natural, and the communication between you and your customer should never be diminished in terms of value.
To succeed at delivering a meaningful seamless Sales CS handoff, there are 3 ingredients to mix and work together:
A base of context
Basics first, who are your customers?
This base of context must cover all basic information, from various stakeholders to industry specifics and the tech stack they use.
- Their industry
- Company size
- What their product does/solves
- Who their customers are
- The infrastructure and enrichment solutions they use.
Starting there, you can expand and record details that will ultimately make the difference.
Indeed, aren’t you impressed when people you’re not that close to remembering a genuine detail about you? It just generates a great impression. And this applies to business, especially when establishing relationships with customers as a customer service or sales team member.
An ounce of goals
Going further, what are your customer’s goals and objectives?
Making this explicit will provide the sales team, and later the CS, with a good idea of what success means to them.
Evidently, this should be a prerequisite for interacting with your customers along their journey. This definition of success may vary slightly over time. But the foundation will remain the same.
As company and CS team, remember this is highly correlated to the reason why your customer became one in the first place.
Understanding what will make them successful is a great way to help them in this path – and the only for you to keep them.
The questions Sales must ask and CS must know the answer to are simple:
- The problems they’re trying to solve
- How they believe your product will help them
- Reasons why they chose you over the competition
- The features of your product they are interested in
- The people from their company that will use your product
- Subjects they expect your help in
- Success criteria and metrics
And a usage glaze
Without even getting into the topic of freemium offers and product-led growth, one thing is now for sure. Most SaaS new customers have experimented with the product before signing their contract.
This means that at the time of Sales CS handoff, before customer success onboarding, every new customer would have left several data points everywhere in your product.
Sometimes, even enough clues to put into perspective with the other information you have been handed about them.
In this case, the CS should definitely get a look at the customer’s product adoption score before the CS kick-off call.
Similarly, analyzing the customer’s usage and behavior – such as the accomplishment (or not) of the first-time value milestone – in light of his previously stated goals will provide the CS with valuable insights to tackle his first discussion with the customer, build a consistent CS plan and provide the education needed to deliver quicker value.
Is this scalable?
To do so, knowledge must be gathered in a systematic way and first interactions with the CS team come up at the right time.
Checklists must be made by both the Sales team regarding the information they collect – and by the CS team, to make sure they know enough before their customer success kick-off call.
Playbooks with automated task allocation should be set-up and actioned when a certain behavior of the customers has been detected, such as a contract signed which would signify the time to set up the CS kick-off call.
Workflows, consisting in automated email sequences can send a kick-off call proposal right at that time, without the CS having to check with the Sales team the status of every user or prospect.
With Salesmachine Inbox workspace, Customer Success is able to access all the communication of an account or contact. In this case, the CS can get acquainted to the desires, difficulties and expectations of the customer.