Before you can build a great customer experience, you must have a strong Sales <> Success handoff. If Sales oversells the product or sets the wrong expectations around implementation and support, you’re setting the customer up for an uphill battle from the start. 
You can’t provide an impactful customer experience if the customer purchases the product with the wrong expectations. 
But the problem isn’t just on Sales—it’s more often due to a lack of regular communication and a strong partnership between Sales and Success. To solve this, identify the main points of friction in the handoff and then work with your peers in Sals to resolve those. 
Here are the four most common points of friction between the two departments, and how to overcome them: 

  1. There’s misalignment around what you’re selling and how Success delivers on that promise. Too often, the way Sales and Customer Success go through training is very different. So the result is what Sales is selling and what Success is delivering are two very different experiences. You have to get alignment at the top around what the product delivers for customers and how Success is delivering it first, and then you can begin training Sales and CS and regularly reinforcing those messages in a variety of channels. The answers to “what the product delivers” and “how Success delivers it” can be written in the statement of work, and it should also be incorporated in weekly meetings between Sales and CS. Team members from Success should attend the weekly Sales meeting to understand how they’re selling the product and give updates on how Success is delivering. (Sales should be part of the weekly CS meeting, too.) 

  2. There’s not a clear understanding of what it takes to onboard a customer. If Sales tells a customer it’ll take 30 days to get set up and it actually takes 60, you can imagine what the customer experience is like. Success needs to clearly share what is involved in implementing the product and onboarding the customer: what roles are required (technical people, project managers, etc.), how long it typically takes for different product implementations, and anything else the Success team knows is important for Sales to set expectations around.
  3. There’s miscommunication about what the CSM does for the customer and what work the customer needs to do. In almost every company I’ve worked for, I’ve put together a one-pager on what the CSM is responsible for and what the client is responsible for. Sales needs to set expectations around how long it takes the company to implement a product and onboard the customer (#2) and what work the customer needs to do on their own to be successful with the product.
  4. There’s not a shared understanding of the roles within a customer account. By the time Success is introduced to a customer, Sales has probably built relationships with different people within the organization that have helped them move the deal forward. Sales and Success need to communicate about who the executive sponsor is, and whether Sales has built relationships with the buyer, champions, or potential power users. I’ve seen many examples where Sales sold to an executive sponsor but the CSM never speaks to them or invites them to the kickoff or onboarding review. The end result can be a product delivery that is not what the sponsor asked for. So it’s critical for the Sales leader and Success leader to collaborate on creating a customer journey that requires the sponsor to be part of the experience after they sign the dotted line.




The top articles this week: 

This week's newsletter features posts on: 

  • Insist on Focus - Keith Rabois
  • Five Step Formula for Strategic Account Plans for Customers
  • The Antiracist Leader: Education
  • Uncovering Your Customer's Business Outcomes




Insist on Focus - Keith Rabois (Video)

“Most people tend to substitute A+ problems, which are problems that are very difficult to solve, with B+ problems—problems you know a solution to. So if you imagine a daily checklist; most people have an A+ problem but they don’t know the solution so they procrastinate and work on their B+ problems. The problem is if your entire organization is always solving the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th most important things, you never solve the 1st. So [Peter Thiel’s] technique of forcing people to only work on one thing at a time meant everyone had to work on the A+ problems.”

Listen to the 3-Minute Audio Clip




Five Step Formula for Strategic Account Plans for Customers

Here’s Megan Bowen (CCO at Refine Labs) with a simple framework for creating a strategic account plan for customers.

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The Antiracist Leader: Education

“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’” – Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist


In Part 1 of a series on antiracist actions for leaders, Jill Wetzler, Head of Engineering at Pilot, offers ways to educate yourself to better understand Black employees’ experiences.

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Uncovering Your Customer's Business Outcomes

This post shares a list of ways CSMs can get customers to answer the question, “What goals are you looking to achieve with this product?” without directly asking them. The questions Chad Horenfeldt (Director of Customer Success at Kustomer) offers in this post may also shed light on future opportunities for additional use cases (and upsells) beyond their current objectives.

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