Don’t Let Your CS and Sales Relationship Burn Out
Let’s say you and your best friend have decided to start a food truck. Every day, the two of you take the truck downtown; together, you take orders, make sandwiches and process sales, along with making sure you have enough supplies and managing the truck’s finances. It goes fine for a while — until you start getting popular.
Suddenly, the processes you used that worked fine when you were serving a dozen customers an hour are recipes for disaster when scaled for hundreds. You miscommunicate orders and fill your sandwiches with the wrong meats. Your partner fails to record sales correctly, unbalancing your finances. Halfway through the day, you run out of bread. You need to update your systems and get on the same page or both the relationship and the business risk falling apart.
Like with this two-person food truck, it is important for sales and customer success (CS) divisions of a company to communicate clearly and constantly update systems of collaboration as the business scales. Salespeople need to know what they’re pitching, and customer success employees need to know what their clients want — if there is a gap in communication, it is ultimately the customer who suffers. It’s perfectly possible to keep that relationship strong and the company successful as it rapidly expands, but it requires innovation, attention and flexibility.
To learn how to sustain the relationship between CS and sales departments during company growth, Built In LA sat down with a collaboration success story in the healthtech space. PatientPop Vice President of Customer Success Andrea Weisz shared her advice and experience with maintaining and refining both departments’ communication.
What are some strategies you’ve developed to create alignment between your customer success and sales teams?
Creating strong alignment between CS and sales is all about good communication and finding compromise across both groups’ needs. In our weekly company all hands meeting, we have speakers from both CS and sales who give an update on each team’s monthly progress, including wins and challenges — this ensures we understand what’s going on on both sides. As we prepare for big product releases, our managers of training have been working together to ensure there is consistency in the training and how we position the product.
We also created a sales-to-implementation handoff note template, which is submitted in Salesforce for continuity in the customer experience. We capture information that is critical for implementation but doesn’t take a sales rep too long to fill out. Additionally, we have a dedicated Slack channel for implementation leaders and sales leaders to address customer questions or work through kickoff call scheduling conflicts. Lastly, whenever there is a big process change, leaders from the department will attend a CS or sales team meeting to deliver training and field questions, ensuring we are aligned.
Describe the challenges that can arise in this relationship as a company scales, and how your customer success and sales teams have been able to manage them.
As the company grows and scales, keeping close relationships, sharing information and collaboratively troubleshooting customer issues becomes really hard. When we were a small company under a single roof, everyone knew each other and you could just walk up to someone’s desk with a question. Now, we are a 400-plus person organization working remotely across multiple states. The way we have managed through this is really by having CS and sales leadership listen to team feedback and improve our process and systems as the company dynamics change.
One example in the last year is that CS was getting feedback from sales that it was too hard to remember all the nuanced CS workflows and what case type to submit on behalf of customers for support, account management, billing and so on. Sales reps were often submitting things incorrectly, which resulted in a customer delay and escalation. We worked with our ops team to build a “quick widget” in Salesforce, where sales reps only had to fill out a couple fields through one single UI. All cases are now sent to a single queue which is managed by customer support, who helps triage the case to the right internal team to solve the customer issue.
Creating strong alignment between CS and sales is all about good communication and finding compromise across both groups’ needs.”
When customer success and sales teams are aligned at scale, how does it affect the business overall?
When CS and sales are aligned, it leads to happier employees and customers. If clear customer expectations are set and we are working together to seamlessly deliver the service, we reduce customer complaints, increase loyalty and expand revenue.
One recent example was when one of our field reps surfaced a very large and unique account. Prior to closing, she looped in all the right stakeholders from CS and product so we could carefully coordinate a plan that would meet the customer’s needs, but also wouldn’t strain the CS and product teams. We were able to work together and present a plan to the customer that they were very pleased with. The sales rep landed the deal, and we now have a massive expansion opportunity with this account as they launch more businesses. Even after the deal closed, we are all staying connected on the progress of this account and coordinating the expansion.