Promised v/s Provided

Archive User
Archive User Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
edited October 2023 in Customer Journey

How to manage  what was promised during sales closure. I experienced most of the times, sales team over promised to the client which is in pipeline for next 6 months. 

How do we handle or buy time to keep the service experience at top. 


  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020

    In my experience this comes down to two things.

    1. Poor relationships between CS, Marketing & Sales. You need to really define what your ICP is and then have defined expectations that your ICP should expect. 
    2. A sales to CSM handover experience that isn't performing. I read an article from @Rav Dhaliwal this morning that really resonated, where it talked about post-sale never ending. We need to involve CSMs as early as physically possible so they are involved in the expectation setting with prospects. And where resource may not allow for this, its critical for the CS team to assess "good fit" before the deal is closed. We currently have a process in the sales cycle for "good fit" check where we review the customers expectations and then we approve or disapprove. Then within the "post-sale" lifecycle stage we reconfirm these expectations to ensure they are still relevant. If not, we may have to reset the expectations or advise what they want is not possible.
  • Archive User
    Archive User Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020

    @Will Pagden Thanks. It's absolutely a great way to eliminate unrealistic expectations. 

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
    First Comment Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Hi @Vipin Dixit  - this links to a LinkedIn debate I was having the other day with regards to when a CSM should engage with a new customer. The options were multiple times post-sales but my response is that we should be engaged at the latter stages of the pre-sales process.

    This does a number of things: it brings reality & credibility to the customer seeing a member of the CS org who is responsible for their post-sales experience. It also though allows the CS org to ensure the expectations are set correctly and in line with your own value proposition. If there is a gap there (the outcome "gap") then you will never be set up to be successful with that customer. 

    So my advice, influence it as early as possible rather than trying to fix it when it is too late.

  • David Jackson
    David Jackson Member Posts: 36 Expert
    First Comment
    edited July 2020

    @Will Pagden ICP is critical. The key is not a good fit assessment by CS - this often causes more tensions as CS is seen as the 'stop sales' team.  

    Real success in this has four elements:

    • It starts with meaningful (ie not lip service) company wide agreement on ICP and an ICP fit score as part of the new logo acquisition process.  I know one CEO who even considered commission rates based on ICP fit, but he never followed through on that.
    • Second is rich, comprehensive data captured across the lifecycle.  If we have that, the sales - cs handover becomes a simple social event.
    • The final element is a sales process that sets out what happens post-sale.  This describes what we will do (and not do) for the customer and what their responsibilities are.  If a customer is not willing to accept their responsibilities then the deal should stop.
    • Bonus across the pipeline linked to CLTV.  So many problems are caused by badly thought out comp plans that drive people to do what is good for them but not for the business as a whole.

    To those who say the CEO won't buy into this then build a financial model that shows the benefits.  If they still wont change then find another job.  I did!

  • Sara Bochino
    Sara Bochino Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    First Comment
    edited July 2020

    @Matt Myszkowski What about contract language? and perhaps that's what you were alluding to @David Jackson I am a huge believer that our contract language should share what the customer gets not only from our platform but oftentimes more importantly what they are provided from our Customer Success and Services teams. Providing this along with clear presales materials that outline your methodology can help address and alleviate some of the misconceptions that can arise during the handoff or within an organization altogether. 

    We set guidelines on what types of accounts CS gets introduced to pre-sale. It is part of our segmentation guidelines and fits into our top tier since their ratio is much less. This happens at a specific stage in our success lifecycle around stage B just prior to close. 

    I think constant education and reinforcement of your lifecycle is crucial because the truth is the selling motion never stops. And lastly, the partnership between sales, CS, and Service teams at every level is crucial for long term maturity. 

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    @Vipin Dixit - Interesting, but not an uncommon situation, I'm afraid.

    My experience is that a good Sales-to-CSM transition does not solve this issue and does not make this gap (promised vs delivered) go away, if in the Sales process, the customer has "heard" (implicit or explicit) promise. Even, involving CSM early in, before the deal closure, does little, as you're not expected to "rock the boat". 

    So, what would help prevent this?

    One, as few people have mentioned, the ICP is important. But it goes back a level deeper -- the GTM motion, how is the sales/pre-sales team trained to talk about the roadmap and product timelines (and selling culture too!). There is also a matter of CS having a seat at the table in approving the deals -- which in my experience, is not the case. So, the preventive measure here is to get this addressed in the Selling motion. This is in CS leader's domain to drive that kind of change.

    As for "managing the situation", if you have the feature already on the roadmap, I think you've got a manageable situation if that is not the only feature customer's initial value or quick win dependent on.

    Typically, projects take several weeks/months to show value, and in that time you can reframe and refocus the customer on deriving value from the existing feature-set, and put the projects dependent on the roadmap into a backlog. In parallel, if you have an ability to bring customer into a "Design Partnership" with your product team as that feature is being worked on, or in some shape or form engage them in the feature delivery (and get their feedback), or even sign them up for alpha/beta/RC, it would provide a sense of progress and somewhat reduce the disappointment due to the missing feature. This is in CSM's domain to drive a specific customer level engagement.

    Hope this helps.


  • Matt Vadala
    Matt Vadala Member Posts: 47 Expert
    edited July 2020

    I came here to ensure early CSM placement was advocated for, though @Matt Myszkowski beat me to it. I also would like to applaud and echo @Sara Bochino's thoughts around the contract - though caution that contracts are highly glossed over. I do always prefer written terms though, and would re-iterate parties present at pre-sales to ensure this language is highlighted throughout the interaction. 

  • Nandkishor Tripathi
    Nandkishor Tripathi Member Posts: 18 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020

    Awesome conversation on this thread and lot's of learning.

    I see this question as 2 fold.

    1. What to do avoid the damage (Steps to minimize the experience gap)
    2. What to do if damage is done (Experience gap identified in delivery phase)

    For #1 Let me introduce you with 2 things:

    • Tech Sales
      • I have seen this role has emerged that plays an active role in pre-sales process. While Sales main role to open the door to enter to start communication with new prospect and use his magic to get onboard for your product and services. where at same time Tech Sales role is to evaluate the needs of customer is viable in your current platform and put any caution or delay delivery (if the feature in pipeline). 
      • With Tech sales support it builds confidence to prospect that things will delivered as promised and at same time it also assure to client success that there will be limited experience gap. 
    • Clear written contract / service agreements
      • @Sara Bochino has mentioned about this in her thoughts above.
      • In my experience I recommend to clearly outline:
        • Prospects Support (what all things we need from prospect)
        • Your company/brand responsibility (What all support/services will be provided by you)
        • Clearly outlined MVP deliverable
        • Outline Key Feature / Service that is MUST
        • Exclusion in the support / service
        • Defined process in case of scope change
        • Governance to manage expectations and resolutions
        • Defined SLA

    For #2 - We should follow the governance model and contract / service agreement. Sometime this conversation is quite difficult and is heated. We always focus on win-win situation for both parties. Setup executive meeting including the project sponsor to take decision. 

    Be truthful to your customer and avoid circle answers. Be clear and take decision and don't stretch / delay decisions.

    Hope this add a little more drops to ocean :)




  • Alex Turkovic
    Alex Turkovic Member Posts: 61 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Wow - what a thread. Great contributions from everyone! Not much more to be said that hasn't already been provided - I would just like to echo that strong leadership and peer-to-peer relationships across sales, services and CSM teams is critical to minimizing these occurrences and dealing with them swiftly and efficiently when they do.

    A bit part of this is setting in place and documenting clear cross-functional procedures based on what has occurred, and also drafting new ones in case of unprecedented incidents.

    I think that internal training is a huge factor here as well. It's common knowledge that product training gaps tend to lead towards over-selling. I have also found that training sales teams on the processes and procedures (think of a 'day-in-the-life of CSM' type training) builds cross-functional empathy and recognition that certain actions have REAL down-stream consequences.

  • gurd3v
    gurd3v Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020

    Really awesome thread! 

    Couple things I've seen that's dramatically changed sales behavior for the positive:

    1. Collect this date in some medium so you can take this data to the rest of the leadership team to investigate and address (simply saying there's a problem anecdotally won't go far, unfortunately)
    2. If the data checks out, consider changing comp plans on the sales side so there is a commission clawback period
    3. From the CS side, lean in and offer a helping hand to solidifying a pitch that could minimize confusion while still allowing sales to have their creative freedom

    Some other self reflection that may be critical, but necessary:

    1. Is there a product deficiency that doesn't allow the product to solve the problem your business is intended to solve?
      1. The problem statement your product is supposed to solve may not be solved by the product, putting sales in a bind
    2. Is marketing creating collateral that can be misleading?
      1. Perhaps when a lead is generated through a piece of marketing material that's intended to hook the prospect, it inadvertently is misleading
    3. Is CS trained properly on the product to provide solutions customers should expect?
      1. May need to conduct an internal objection handling training

    The above list is important to vet before pointing the finger at sales, even though sometimes it's accurate and warranted! 


  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    My 2 cents on utilizing Contract language to minimize/avoid the gap...

    Contract language to specify what is being sold may be a viable path for "services". For Product sales, usually SalesOps and Legal prefer to maintain a standard format, list of SKUs that correspond to features and/or subscription or service levels. In such case, features that are not in the product yet shouldn't be enabled as SKUs in the systems and should be sold. Period. It's those capabilities that are not necessarily new SKUs but more of product enhancement that are in the pipeline (for eg: alert customer on an adverse event via an SMS but currently let's say we only support alert via email. A retail customer may think of "alert via SMS" critical and Sales promises this will be delivered) but not committed by Product that end up creating the gap. It's hard to avoid these things via the contract language -- because then with every new feature we'd end up changing the contract.

    In case of services, the "promised versus delivered" gap can be minimized via a tightly scoped and well written SOW.