Checks + Balances: 3 Powers to Give Your Customer Success Team in the Sales Process
Checks and balances are vital to government, but they’re also important to the different functional areas of your business.
You probably already have some in place to hold your team accountable, but you may not have considered how your customer success team can be involved in the sales process. After all, the sales team sells and the customer success team keeps — it’s pretty cut and dry.
But, if you can get the CS team involved earlier on in the process, there’s a greater likelihood that they’ll be able to keep more.
Here are 3 levers that your CS team should be able to pull in the sales process:
1. Veto Power
Sales reps have a goal to hit, and they’re going to do everything within their power to exceed that goal (if they’re good at their job, and if it affects their comp). This is a really good thing in almost every case, but unfortunately, it also means that on some occasions, basic qualifiers are overlooked and some less-than-ideal prospects slip through the cracks and wind up as customers. And when a customer isn’t a good fit, the relationship tends to spiral downhill pretty quickly.
To avoid this problem, give your customer success team the power to veto potential sales deals that they think are a bad fit for your product/service — yep, let them have the ability to say “no,” even if it means walking away from new MRR. The CS team should obviously be able to back up their decision with legitimate reasoning, but no one understands the limitations and capabilities of your product better than the team who deals with customer feedback on a day-to-day basis.
We won’t lie — it’s a hard adjustment for the sales team, and it requires a great deal of trust from everyone on your entire team. But, it makes your sales team stronger and better at what they do, and it gives your customer success team a greater chance to succeed with new customers.
2. Agreement Review
After we get a “yes” from a prospect, we start writing up a new agreement. Our agreements look mostly the same across the board, but because we have a few different product offerings, there are slightly different contract terms, payment terms and engagement specifications in each one. For this reason alone, it’s a good idea to get a second set of eyes before sending it off for a final signature, but there’s also another benefit…
Similar to veto power, having someone from the customer success team conduct the agreement review is a great way to hold your sales team accountable. If there’s anything in the agreement that goes a little over the line or just doesn’t make sense, the CS team can point it out before it gets to the customer.
Keep in mind that this isn’t (and shouldn’t be) about micromanaging the sales team, it’s just a good way to ensure that the right things are being communicated to the new customer and everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
3. New Customer Hand-Offs
The very last step in our sales process is the new customer hand-off to the CS team. While this isn’t exactly a “power” in the same sense as the previous two, it’s still a way for our CS team to hold the sales team accountable (if you think you’re seeing a theme of overarching accountability here, you aren’t wrong).
When passing off a customer to the CS team, the sales team is responsible for explaining the nitty gritty of everything that was discovered during the sales process, like:
- What problems led the customer to seek help?
- What are the customer’s expectations for the engagement?
- Has the customer tried a solution like ours before? How’d it go?
- Who will we be working with/are there other decision makers?
Both teams know that this hand-off is coming, so it encourages the sales team to close good deals — they don’t just get to lob customers over the fence and wipe their hands clean…the beginning of a good engagement depends on a comprehensive hand-off.
Again, none of these things are meant to discourage the sales team from hitting goals and closing deals — they’re meant to make them more effective, and to make the transition from prospect to new customer more seamless.
Plus, these checks and balances will help cut down on customer churn. Better customers + better processes on the front-end = longer LTV.