CS Involved in the Sales Cycle

Shari Srebnick
Shari Srebnick Member Posts: 111 Expert
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Hi GGR,

Where in the Sales Cycle does your CS team get involved?  Or do they?

We don't currently have a process in place, and due to that it's a little disjointed and needs to be improved.  Not just for us, but obviously more so for the prospect (and hopefully eventual customer).

So my questions are:

1: At what point do you get involved?  Do you as the leader come in first and bring the CSM in later, closer to close?  Or do you assign the CSM right away and have them jump in from the beginning?   Right now, I see it as both myself and the CSM, possibly at different times, especially to build that early relationship with their leadership.

2: Do you have any "rules of engagement" for working with sales?  For example, CSM's aren't there to be provide a demo or a glorified onboarding session, which often happens and then they end up in the weeds.  

Any info would be helpful.

Thank you!

Comments

  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited April 2021
    Shari,

    I've been doing this for nearly two decades. I've engaged with accounts as a leader, early on in the sales cycle to provide the standard "pitch" about what we do and what to expect, but then assign a specific individual later in the sales cycle, maybe at 70% or 80% confidence level, to begin engaging with the customer to understand their use case and begin to develop the relationship so the transition is smooth. 

    You definitely need to establish rules of engagement and expectations with sales and the customer. No, CS is not there to provide a demo or perform an onboarding session prior to execution. But there is some benefit to the CSM walking through different aspects of your solution of having more detailed discussions in order to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter and begin to create that bridge to trusted advisor.

    Andrew
  • Shari Srebnick
    Shari Srebnick Member Posts: 111 Expert
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    edited April 2021
    Thanks, Andrew.   :)

    This is exactly what I was thinking and how I was going about creating the playbook for this.  Your feedback helps a lot and it's also very validating.
  • Tim Gilhooly
    Tim Gilhooly Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
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    edited April 2021
    Hi Shari,

    Andrew has a great point here. It is a really good idea to include a CSM in the "later stage" of the sales cycle. This will depend on market segment, size & complexity of account of course. There may be a lot of potential to leverage the CSM's experience as a "selling feature" for the sales team. I love what Andrew said about "creating the bridge" to trusted advisor. It will almost feel like the customer/client has already began working with the CSM and they have a "head start".

    In my previous role as a Sr. Event Manager in Luxury Resorts, I applied the similar strategy. Here is an example:

    A large account (Enterprise Level) would visit our resort for a "site visit" to tour the property for a potential Annual Convention for 1000+ attendees.   I would join the Sales Executive on this visit to help answer any challenging questions that may arise suchs as: Complex set-ups for tradeshows, outdoor events, or showcasing our ability to connect with exhibitors. I was not there to sell the property (like Andrew mentioned, not there do do the demo), but I conveyed the message that our sales and services teams were "closely aligned" to ensure a successful convention experience for "our client" and their attendees.

    Overall, I think including the CSM outweighs more benefits than challenges. We just need to be careful not to micromanage and know when to speak up OR  just be present  as "a fly on the wall" and available as a resource.  I also suggest scheduling a 15-20 minute meeting before the meeting so both the CSM and AE/Sales Rep or on the same page.
  • Jeffrey Kushmerek
    Jeffrey Kushmerek Member Posts: 96 Expert
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    edited April 2021
    Hi Shari, 
    Like Andrew mentioned, I also preach this as well. The earlier you can get your team involved in sales, the smoother your onboarding and implementation will be. In the past, I have made sure that contracts cannot be sent unless the CS team has been involved. Usually, this is at the 75% stage of the sales cycle, and we made sure that salesops and finance enforced the rules. Depending on your size, I would be the one that is involved in the "pitching" part where you talk about the process starts and how you will get them live, including showing them sample project plans, etc. 


    As you get bigger OR is more complex things like integrations, file cleaning, UX needs to be scoped, you may start bringing in other parts of your team to answer deeper tech questions and do scoping as needed. 

    I hope this helps!
    Jeff