Published by Rachel Williams - November 28, 2018

How to create a seamless handoff from sales to customer success

Tips for getting new clients up and running seamlessly and ensuring retention.

Knowing when it’s time to break up

Closing the deal doesn’t mean the pressure’s off. The single most important step to retention is getting new clients using your product or service as seamlessly as possible. Typically, seeing a quick demo during a sales call isn’t enough to guarantee adoption, but that’s where your customer success team can help. Promptly ushering a client through the sale and into onboarding will allow your tool to prove its value and your reps to get back to selling.

“Proper onboarding isn’t done to prevent churn; it’s done to ensure the customer achieves their Desired Outcome. Retention comes from that.” – Lincoln Murphy

Often, the ease of implementation and integration is as important as the cost to your customer. Alleviate any concerns of a failed project by weaving customer success in when the sale is nearing its close. To the client, the onboarding process should feel just like the next step of the sales cycle, without any interruption in-between.

Keys to a successful handoff from sales to account management:

  1. Establish good rapport between your sales reps and customer success managers
  2. Introduce customer success at the right time
  3. Make a clean cut from sales when the deal is closed
  4. Get the first onboarding session scheduled ASAP (email template included)

Why does it matter?

Without proper training, a new customer may not be able to leverage your product to their greatest advantage. If the implementation is too difficult or lengthy, they’ll get frustrated or lose interest. When the time for renewal comes around, it will be too late to demonstrate the benefits of your product to them again. Depending on the flexibility of their contract, they may even cancel entirely before it ends. Sales reps should work closely with the customer success team to minimize client frustration in getting up and running to avoid any loss of interest.

Good team rapport guarantees a good handoff

Your sales team has personalized the client’s experience leading up to the close. To maintain that tailored feel and deliver consistently superior service, instill a strong bond between your reps and the customer success managers that will take over their accounts. Sales needs to trust the level of expertise of the CSMs to feel confident that the client is in good hands. Likewise, customer success relies on insight from sales to confidently complete the handoff. Promoting good rapport can perfect the customer experience by smoothing over that transition, and there are tools that can help.

To encourage open and regular communication between departments, try resources that connect employees on a more personal level.

  • Most companies already utilize an internal messaging system, like Slack, to stay in touch. Use apps like Donut encourage inter-office collaboration by randomly assigning two people to touch base.
  • Schedule ad hoc get-to-know-you calls. Even team members who work remotely can schedule a 30-minute call or video-chat with their colleagues to get to know them better.
  • Make communication a goal for sales and success department heads. Establishing a baseline for quality communication across teams can help keep you on track.
  • Assign one or two CSMs to a sales rep to strengthen bonds further and make it easier to recognize areas of improvement. Cultivating a consultative relationship between departments will help to ensure the smoothest transition for your customers throughout their experience with your company.

Make quality client introductions at the right time

Sometimes the promise of personalized onboarding training can help close a drawn-out deal. The lead agrees that your product is the solution they need, so now reps just have to sell them on the rollout. They may have reservations about getting their hands dirty during setup, and an intensive implementation might be more than they’re willing to take on alone. Put a customer’s mind at ease by introducing customer success before the close so they can feel confident that they won’t be left out to dry once the check clears.

Here are a couple of easy opportunities for a successful early introduction:

  • Use a collective scheduling solution to include the CSM on a sales call or email—giving them a chance to lay out their training process and familiarize themselves with the account. It’s important to have everyone on the same page, and a formal handoff can mitigate any potential confusion about who is in charge of the account: When should the customer reach out to the sales rep? When should they reach out to customer success?
  • Encourage great documentation, from discovery to solution presentation, and all the way through objections and negotiations. If your sales reps have done their due diligence, customer success should already be familiar with the account when they take over. The opportunity notes available should be extensive, preventing any questions from being asked twice. CSMs rely heavily on the footwork done during the initial discovery call and throughout the sales cycle to customize the training process for each customer.

If you love them, let them go (to customer success)

Once the deal is closed, sales reps should make a clean break with the client and let customer success take over. The CSM should hit the ground running to get a training session on the calendar as quickly as possible. You’ll notice your clients’ adoption rate increase if they’re able to get trained and start using the product right away. Minimizing the time and customer effort between purchasing and the start of onboarding training is crucial in guaranteeing their success with your product, as well as increasing the likelihood of renewal. Compose an email like the template below for CSMs to send the day a sale is finalized.

Subject line: Schedule your onboarding today!

Hi Sally,

We’re excited to help your team get started with (your company’s product)! To get your team up and running, let’s schedule your personalized onboarding call. Here’s my link to schedule: calendly.com/yourschedulinglink

What to expect from our first session:

  • Review your current workflow
  • Discuss your goals
  • Create your account and discuss customization options that will help you succeed

Get a head start with our helpful guides:

  • (list any additional resources or help documentation)

Looking forward to helping you reach your goals!

It’s the responsibility of both teams to create the optimal experience for your customers, from the beginning of the sales cycle through implementation. The sales and customer success teams must cooperate closely to leave little room for miscommunication about the needs of a newly acquired account. Maintaining this constant collaboration provides comfort and security for your customer so they’ll never feel lost during the process.

Enjoyed this post? Our Sales Playbook Series offers proven strategies and free takeaways to help sales teams implement true consultative selling practices. With these strategies they meet their quota and then some, while building better relationships with prospects: