Implementation Scope

Michael Buccellato
Michael Buccellato Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
Hi All - Curious how you org approaches scoping implementations before prospects become customers and at what point CS gets involved?

Problem: At the moment the CSM is often having to do discovery for key pieces of information that will impact how implementation will go. The messaging and sales behavior is instilled in a way that they gloss over the time/effort/requirements to onboard. Customers feel that dysfunction when they learn the intricacies of onboarding.  

Solution: We are hoping to have the sales rep bring in the CSM to scope the integration before the deal is signed to create alignment and demonstrate partnership before deal is signed.

How does your team approach this?


  • James LaRiviere
    James LaRiviere Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020

    Hey Michael. 

    It can be hard to get over that disconnect but I think you're on the right track.

    The first step I'd take is to help sales reframe the discussion on implementation, they may not realize how intricate it is. Instead of "hey it's easy and you'll be up in no time" get them to address the fact that there is effort involved and the customer will have access to a CSM to guide them through it. In terms of customer experience it starts off on a horrible note if they get ambushed by a really complex implementation where they were sold something quick and easy. If they are scared off by the implementation it may mean that they feel the product is not worth the time/cost, which is a different issue to tackle. It can also save you from a bad fit customer if they either don't have or don't want to provide internal resourcing to get it up and running. 

    What I've done in the past is mark a certain stage in the sales process where CS is brought in before the customer signs. We used a rough marker that sales was 70% sure the deal would close (typically after a few sales calls, in depth demo from pre sales and some discovery). CS was then brought in to help with the deeper discovery and walk them through the finer points of implementation, this allowed us to start the handover if the customer was considered a good fit as well. 

    Happy to chat more on this!

  • Craig Jackson
    Craig Jackson Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    edited November 2020
    hi @Michael Buccellato

    There is a very interesting conversation a little further down the list around deal committee's. its worth a read as It may resonate with some of your challenges. 

    We had a very strict process during the underwriting/ suitability review that ensured these areas were ticked off. 

    That initial experience is so powerful and given the magnitude of our level support it meant that customers with poor first experiences would churn very quickly. 

    Our process ensured that all this info was unearthed pre on-boarding, it got better over time, mainly through learning from mistakes but it did help. 

    We did this by simply collating all the data that our CSMs would find and added them into a process check list. These areas needed to be ticked off prior to the deal committee meeting, if they weren't then the sale wouldn't progress. If they were approved but were incorrect then the Sales Rep would be help accountable for it. 

    Hope this helps. Good luck
  • Jeffrey Kushmerek
    Jeffrey Kushmerek Member Posts: 93 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic 5 Insightfuls
    edited November 2020
    My opinion on this may be different, but at some point early in SaaS companies (1-10MM) that implementation needs to be de-coupled from CSM duties. However, if CSM's are still owning implementation, you need to get in at the 70% mark, or before any contract/proposal that includes implementation fees. The sales team needs to be convinced of this, so here is your opportunity to point out that:

    - implementation leaders ask good questions and establish trust with your prospects.  
    - your team are SME's and will help more than a salesperson and SE
    - you will accurately scope and add time to the project if it needs it upfront, instead of having to constantly communicate delays to the customer, who then call the salespeople up
    - more referencable customers based on the above

    I can type for a long time on this subject and have some articles about it, but that is the framework that I like to use. Let me know if you have any more questions
  • James Conant
    James Conant Member Posts: 37 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited November 2020
    I agree with Jeff. Implementation or a CSM (sometimes both) should be involved prior to the sale (70%, etc). We all understand the natural tension inherent in the sale process (they sell).  Identifying potential issues and setting scope is critical to establishing appropriate expectations and preventing a host of issues downstream.
  • Michael Buccellato
    Michael Buccellato Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    edited November 2020
    This is awesome! Thanks, James.

    The biggest challenge is getting buy-in from sales and changing their perception that this could be a barrier or added step to closing a deal. In reality, this added step is demonstrating partnership and organization instead of later passing dysfunction off to the customer when expectations are mismanaged. 

    Do you have a segmentation model that drives the level of scope?
  • Michael Buccellato
    Michael Buccellato Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    edited November 2020
    Great feedback, Jeff - would love to see any materials/articles you have. 

    How do you think about segmenting the level of scope? 

    Enterprise prospect needs xyz in place vs. MM and SMB...