Sales and Customer Success: Is It the Chicken or the Egg?
When it comes to a healthy dynamic between Sales and Customer Success teams in achieving customer revenue goals, an age-old adage comes to mind: Is it the chicken or the egg? Meaning—what comes first? Who supports who? And which is more important? As you might have gathered from the old saying, the answer is a complicated combination of “both.” Because in the fast-paced world of technology, it’s the strong relationships between Sales and Customer Success teams that are essential for driving business growth, increasing customer lifetime value, and ensuring customer satisfaction. It’s not about one side of the equation being more important than the other, but instead how the entire ecosystem works together—where Sales can drive Customer Success, Customer Success can drive Sales, and a symbiotic relationship is established.
Elements of a Healthy Relationship Between Sales and Customer Success
A healthy relationship between Sales and Customer Success teams significantly increases customer lifetime value by ensuring a seamless and positive experience throughout the entire customer journey. Through collaboration, effective communication, and shared goals, Sales and Customer Success teams work together to set accurate expectations for the sales process—leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention. This alignment allows for seamless handoffs while enabling customer success to deliver proactive, tailored solutions that address customer needs and drive upsell and expansion opportunities. This constant feedback loop shared between the two teams enhances the product or service offering, further increasing customer loyalty and driving customer lifetime value. See below for a cleaner look at these elements:
1. Collaboration: Working together and leveraging unique perspectives and expertise to understand customer pain points, objectives, and needs throughout the customer journey.
2. Communication: Fostering a culture of teamwork by establishing open channels for regular and transparent communication covering shared insights, feedback, and other pertinent customer information.
3. Shared Goals: Aligning goals and common objectives — such as revenue growth, customer retention, satisfaction, and lifetime value — promotes a unified approach towards mutual success.
4. Feedback Loop: Sales providing valuable insights gained during the sales process to Customer Success, aiding them in understanding customer expectations. In turn, Customer Success shares feedback and information on customer needs and challenges, enabling Sales to fine-tune their approach.
Alignment Strategies for Sales and Customer Success
As you might have gathered—the closer Sales and Customer Success are to one another, the more successful they’ll be. Sales plays a critical role in setting the stage for a successful customer relationship, while Customer Success, as advocated for customer satisfaction and long-term value, contributes to driving expansion and net-new sales via advocacy and referral. Alignment between the two is vital for achieving sustained success, promoting a cohesive customer approach, optimizing the customer experience, driving revenue growth, and strengthening customer loyalty and advocacy. Let’s look at some ways Sales can help drive Customer Success, and vice-versa:
Sales Supporting Customer Success
1. Accurate Expectation Setting: During the sales process, Sales must accurately communicate the capabilities and limitations of the product and/or service being sold. By ensuring customer expectations are aligned with what the product can deliver, Sales can set a foundation for a positive customer experience and reduce friction with Customer Success. Clear and transparent communication regarding features, functionalities, and implementation timelines helps prevent any potential mismatch between what was promised and what can be delivered.
2. Seamless Handoff: A smooth transition from Sales to Customer Success is essential to maintain continuity and build trust. Sales should provide comprehensive and accurate information about the customer, their requirements, and any specific expectations gathered during the sales process. This handoff ensures Customer Success has a solid understanding of the customer’s needs and can tailor their onboarding and ongoing support accordingly.
3. Customer Insights: Sales often gathers valuable insights during the sales process. These insights can include information about the customer’s pain points, desired outcomes, and business challenges. By sharing these insights with Customer Success, Sales provides them with a deeper understanding of the customer’s context, enabling them to deliver tailored solutions and provide proactive support.
4. Collaboration for Growth Opportunities: Sales can collaborate with Customer Success to identify growth opportunities within existing accounts. By maintaining regular communication and sharing information about customer usage patterns, feedback, and evolving needs, Sales can help Customer Success identify potential upsell and cross-sell opportunities. This collaboration not only drives revenue growth, but also demonstrates a proactive approach to meeting customer needs.
Customer Success Supporting Sales
1. Upsell and Expansion Opportunities: Customer Success maintains close relationships with customers, gaining insights into their evolving needs, pain points, and growth potential. By understanding customer usage patterns, identifying areas where additional value can be delivered, and recognizing upsell or expansion opportunities, Customer Success can proactively pass on these opportunities to Sales. This collaboration ensures that customers receive the right solutions to address their evolving needs while driving revenue growth for the business.
2. Referrals and Testimonials: Satisfied customers can become powerful advocates for a company’s products and/or services, and, through their strong relationships with customers, Customer Success can identify potential advocates. By nurturing these relationships and leveraging positive customer experiences, Customer Success can facilitate referrals and gather testimonials that can be shared with Sales. These referrals and testimonials serve as powerful social proof, influencing potential new customers and driving sales.
3. Product Feedback and Insights: Customer Success teams are in constant contact with customers, gaining valuable feedback about their experiences, pain points, and suggestions for improvement. By effectively collecting and sharing this feedback with Product and Sales teams, Customer Success provides invaluable insights for product enhancements and feature development. These improvements not only drive customer satisfaction and retention but also enhances Sales’ ability to position and sell the product effectively.
Customer Success, Sales, Chickens, & Eggs: One Ecosystem
The symbiotic relationship between Sales and Customer Success teams is crucial in driving customer revenue and ensuring customer satisfaction—especially in a growing technology landscape. Sometimes that means Sales provides a seamless handoff to the Customer Success Team, while other times it means Customer Success proactively positions an upsell opportunity. The beauty of a healthy relationship between the two is it supports every angle of the customer experience—creating a powerful alignment focused on long-term, organizational growth and success. So, if you’re still wondering if it’s the chicken or the egg, you might want to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture.