Customer Success and Sales with different goals - how to align?

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Philipp Maucher
Philipp Maucher Member Posts: 6 Contributor
First Anniversary
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
Hi all, 

Probably a heavily discussed topic, yet we haven't found our right model for it yet and would love to hear how other businesses are handling this:

We've received feedback from our CS and Sales teams that seem to pursue different goals when engaging with customers together (e.g. joint calls). To give you some context: we've matched our CSMs and Sales staff into territories and formed specific account teams penetrating those.

CS responsibility:
  • Adoption within the territory
  • Gross revenue retention within the territory
Sales responsibility:
  • New business within the territory
  • Expansion within the territory
Both CS and Sales have some joint CBRs, product update or training calls. It is evident during those calls that both drive their own agendas (CS: adoption, Sales: expansion), which might confuse the customer.

What's your experience in aligning CS and Sales during joint customer engagements and providing a seamless experience for the customer?

Many thanks in advance, best

Philipp

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Comments

  • Stacie Ward
    Stacie Ward Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited August 2020
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    Hi Philipp - Customers do get confused when they perceive that a Customer Success call is "repurposed" for a sales call.   Think about yourself as a customer - how do you feel when you think you're having a conversation about improving your usage of a product, and a sales person jumps in with the sole agenda of selling you more?  How we've handled it is to be very clear about the purpose of the call with the customer.   There are specific calls where a CSM will introduce the Sales rep.  

    As an organization, ensure Sales compensation reflects where the organization wants them to spend their time.  Our Sales reps do get commission on expansions and upsells, but not at the same rate as new business.   

    At the CBRs, it's fine to have Sales on the call, but that is NOT the time to pursue the sales agenda.  Sales may ask questions to understand if there is an expansion opportunity and qualify it.   Any discussion of a specific solution should be done on a different call.  Otherwise, you risk the customer never speaking to the CSM again.  Once you break trust, it's difficult to restore it.  

    Based on experience from several different companies - aligning Sales with CS territories works as long as your sales territories and reps are persistent.  If that begins to change, it's best to preserve the CS->Customer alignment as it is more customer-centric.  Optimizing for  CS->Sales alignment is internally focused.   

    Hope that's helpful.  DM me if you'd like any additional info. 

    Best,
    Stacie
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    This is a playbook that I recommend. I coordinate with my AEs all the time about any opportunities the company did not purchase that the AE thinks they would be perfect for. From there, we build adoption plays that tell a story of value progression that ultimately leads to the missing items.

    Think of it like reading Harry Potter where you are satisfied with the conclusion of the book, but can't wait for the next volume. If the customer finds interest, then we offer to bring in an AE in the next call. Ultimately, we make suggestions and it is the customer's call on what they want to do. If we did a compelling enough job, they will ask to meet the AE.

    In the last quarter, I used these tactics to sell

    6 professional services contract
    3 Enterprise support contracts
    3 large meeting licenses
    2 webinar licenses
    2 expanded virtual training sessions

    This doesn't even take into account my license expansions.
  • Philipp Maucher
    Philipp Maucher Member Posts: 6 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    Hi Stacie, 

    Really appreciate your comprehensive and prompt reply.

    "At the CBRs, it's fine to have Sales on the call, but that is NOT the time to pursue the sales agenda.  Sales may ask questions to understand if there is an expansion opportunity and qualify it.   Any discussion of a specific solution should be done on a different call. " - I like that and I think we haven't been empathetic enough here.

    Have a great Thursday!
  • Philipp Maucher
    Philipp Maucher Member Posts: 6 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    Hi Kevin, 

    That's great feedback and it seems you've had a lot success with it.

    "From there, we build adoption plays that tell a story of value progression that ultimately leads to the missing items." - There's certainly something in this, I'll bring this to our team.

    Have a great Thursday!