Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Customer Success, Pt. 2: How Customer Success helps Sales win more opportunities

It’s no surprise that most companies are interested in Customer Success and Sales joining forces for the greater good. Attempting to bridge the gap between these two departments can be a struggle, as can be explaining the reasoning behind it. If you’ve been able to get your Sales and Customer Success departments on board with working in sync, that’s great. But it would be worth it to assure them both that this union is a mutual benefit and not just a check in the box.

If it hasn’t been made clear already, this topic isn’t just about Customer Success operations — it’s about the benefits that Sales, too, can experience with the help of Customer Success. This gives Sales a huge advantage that may be underestimated or undervalued, so it’s important that we examine this peculiarity. Yes, Customer Success wants very much to become involved in the Sales cycle, but not in the way you might think.

What’s the “how” behind it?

In an earlier article, we talked about the “why” behind the initiative to align customer success and sales teams — in other words, why Customer Success cares about Sales and their processes. We showcased the cause-and-effect movement connecting these two departments together, which ultimately shows the strength (and need) of their shared vein. Now, it’s time to address why Sales should care about Customer Success and how Customer Success teams can help salespeople reach their personal goals and win more opportunities.

How can Customer Success help Sales win more opportunities?

1. Keeping commission can’t be done without the help of Customer Success.

In most workplaces, commissions are only earned after a customer has been using a product or service for a certain amount of time (60 days, 90 days, etc.). While this process runs its course, Customer Success knows that new customers thinking about canceling are most likely to churn within the first 90 days. To prevent cancellation, Customer Success works extremely hard during this time to tend to the customer’s needs which, concurrently, ensures your monetary incentive.

2. Sales can focus on generating new business instead of account management.

Back in the day, salespeople wore multiple hats and juggled various roles throughout the customer journey. But today, businesses work differently; Customer Success removes the need for Sales to focus on constantly regenerating the looming empty space of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) or annual recurring revenue (ARR) left by churn. Instead, Sales can focus on selling to new prospects instead of catering to current customers.

3. Learn to better identify who should buy versus who could buy.

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) speak to customers who have already purchased your product and, in turn, gain a thorough understanding of the customer base, as well as what makes a good customer and what makes a bad customer. Based on this knowledge, CSMs can advise Sales on who to sell to and how to approach them. Selling to customers who are actually fit for the product will more likely end up in an adhesive product purchase and a longer lifetime value instead of a higher churn rate later on.

4. They have valuable information about how customers use your product.

Customer Success talks to your customers about your product — a lot. Throughout these interactions, they learn more about not only what your customers need, but also how your customers use the product. In picking up these behaviors, Customer Success can provide Sales with discussion points that are relevant and relatable to customers. Sales can use this information in slide decks, use cases, success stories, and more to pinpoint and tailor to customer needs.

5. Knowing the product is knowing what it can and can’t do.

Having taught several customers how to use the product, Customer Success understands the intricacies of how it works. So when it comes to utilizing the platform or technical issues, Customer Success can serve as a point of contact and teach Sales how to use it properly. Armed with a better comprehension of how the product or service operates, Sales can incorporate this knowledge to set better expectations for the customer upfront.

Where do you start?

There is no right or wrong way to start encouraging Sales to utilize Customer Success resources, but it’s best not to overwhelm them with tasks and to-do’s. An excellent place to begin? Advocate for meeting in the middle through common language. Ask your Sales team to ensure they are relaying customer pain points to your CSMs, while supporting your CSMs in being receptive and interpreting these pain points so they can properly address them directly with customers. You can even leverage tools your business is already using to help share customer intelligence and streamline communication interdepartmentally. Using this technique, there is no earth-shattering process upheaval and both departments can work with what they already have.

It doesn’t exactly matter when you do it or how — what matters is that you start. What processes do you find useful to help sales and customer success teams work together and accomplish goals?