CS and Sales Engagement Model

Hi everyone,

My apologies if this topic has been already been covered!  Links to those discussions would be extremely helpful.

I have recently taken over Customer Success and trying to build a relationship and working model with Sales has been challenging.  How I see CS engaging with the customer and what topics to discuss is almost exactly how they think they should engage with the customer and what topics to discuss.  For example, monthly and quarterly meetings where we discuss progress to plan, gather feedback, provide an update on enhancement requests, demo new features and share upcoming roadmap items.  Every 6 months we hold EBRs.  Again, Sales claims that's their role.  While we could do all of this together, that seems like a waste of time considering we're a small company where all of us have too much to do already. 

As CS is 6 months old at this company, Sales is responsible for renewals but CS is held accountable.  Given that, how do you suggest CS and Sales engage with the customer most effectively and efficiently?

Appreciate your advice!


  • REmery
    REmery Member, Success Network Members Posts: 6
    Hi, Leanne. 

    Here are a couple sets of guardrails I've used in the past when creating a new CS org or disentangling an existing one from the Sales and Support processes:

    The first one is delineation of what CS does and doesn't do

    What CS Does:

    - Mentor, encourage, challenge, teach
    - Align the client's strategy for our offering with their broader vision and goals
    - Support the day-to-day changes needed to implement the strategy
    - Help users understand how to do their jobs better and more easily
    - Help executives understand our impact on and value to their organization

    What CS Doesn't do:

    - The work for the client
    - Drive our strategy to grow the relationship with the client
    - Answer routine questions and fix things that are broken
    - Translate the client's ROI with our offering into a broader strategy

    This second one includes Support which  sometimes gets commingled with CS activities


    - Customer Success: Execution, Mastery, Value
    - Account Management: Strategy, Growth, Impact
    - Customer Support: Break-Fix, Problems, Answers


    - Customer Success: Day-to-day Manager (Influencer)
    - Account Management: Decision Maker
    - Customer Support: Person with the question

    Areas of focus (what their contact cares about):

    - Customer Success: ↑ Features and functions, ↑ Adoption, ↑ Support, ↓ Costs, ↓ Complexity
    - Account Management: ↑ ROI, ↑ Productivity, ↑ Brand Recognition, ↑ Competitive Advantage, ↓ Cycle Time, ↓ Risk
    - Customer Support: 1st Call Resolution, Time-to-close, C-SAT, KB usage, etc

    Happy to share real life stories if that will help as well.

  • Sarah Patel
    Sarah Patel Member Posts: 9
    5 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic
    Where the established Sales team see the CSMs as a threat - trying to take on 'their' activities and prized relationship with the Customer - can turn collaborating into a battle. I find that once Sales realize the value of CS this completely pivots and instead Sales Execs come to you asking for a CSM to be allocated. The big aha! moment is often when people realize that having the Sales Exec and the CSM <want the same thing> for a Customer is synergy not competition. You both want awesome QBRs? Great! you can work together.

    My thoughts - 
    • As REmery mentions above - first align on the mission and purpose of each team and how they fit together. Ideally work cross functionally to get to that agreement and publish a RACI 
    • Always useful to see how other thought leaders / organizations do this - Winning By Design have just published a ‘CS Operating Model’ showing a holistic Revenue Operations approach. Gitlab’s transparency with their Handbook continues to inspire
    • If your CSM team spends a lot of time dealing with support issues and escalations - check - is this what your company wants them to focus on? Are the processes fit for purpose?
    • Make sure the compensation and KPIs align to what the teams are asked to do, tracked and rewarded for
    • Consider a pilot approach where you focus your new CSM/Sales partnership model with the Sales leaders and Sales Execs that are delighted to work with you. Track and evidence your success
  • jennlgamble
    jennlgamble Member Posts: 2
    First Comment
    • Always useful to see how other thought leaders / organizations do this - Winning By Design have just published a ‘CS Operating Model’ showing a holistic Revenue Operations approach. Gitlab’s transparency with their Handbook continues to inspire

    Thank you for sharing the info above, great resources!