Misconceptions can prevent deep and lasting partnerships.
How do you feel about your partnership with your sales team?
Let’s start with a quiz.
✋ Raise your hand if you look forward to interacting with your sales team.
✋ Keep it raised if both of your teams’ roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
✋ Keep those hands up if you know how to effectively pass upsell opportunities to sales.
All the hands still raised? Anyone? Bueller?
Most have probably lowered their hands in defeat by this point.
A Missed Opportunity
For many Customer Success teams, their relationship with sales is complicated at best and antagonistic at worst.
Customer Success Managers accuse the sales team of overpromising features or being sloppy with their follow-through. Meanwhile, the sales team thinks that CSMs drop the ball on delivering key value or identifying upsell opportunities.
But here’s the thing. The Sales and Customer Success relationship doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to settle for an uneasy alliance. Things can get better.
In this article, we’ll explore 4 myths that CSMs believe about Sales that can lead to fractured partnerships. While there are always a few bad apples in the bunch, these myths are largely unfounded.
CSMs can overcome these myths and build partnerships based on reality. They can then leverage these partnerships to provide their customers with a level of value that can’t be matched.
It’s a common belief among CSMs that sales reps are comfortable stretching the truth about what a product can do. Since sales reps want to close the deal at all costs, they’re willing to gloss over limitations or downplay certain difficulties around implementation.
It’s assumed that sales teams don’t even care if a customer is a “bad fit” for their product.
Reality Check ✅
Sales reps are often siloed from customers and how their end experience with the product actually plays out.
In many organizations, there is no infrastructure in place for sales reps to interact with customers post-sales. Their days are filled with finding new leads and moving deals through the pipeline. They aren’t spending a lot of time interacting with customers
Silos in organizations are not intentional, but they often leave sales unable to identify bad-fit customers. They may not realize that a certain integration is difficult to set up and doesn't quite function as advertised right out of the box.
Overselling is not intentional, just a disconnect with the product's end result.
Once sales reps have closed a deal, they don’t care about anything that happens next. They want to close the opportunity in Salesforce, see their quota hit, and then move on to the next prospect. They don’t care what information or context will help the Customer Success team effectively take over. Or so the story goes if you ask many CSMs.
Sales reps are just as busy as every other team and sometimes aren’t aware of what will help CSMs the most.
When you dig into it, most Sales teams do care about what information will help Customer Success teams. The challenge, again, is the siloing that often occurs in organizations where a sales team just doesn’t know what information will be helpful. When that information is shared with them, they will go the extra mile to ensure that all the appropriate customer data is available for CSMs.
Once the deal is closed, a sales rep is nowhere to be found. They won’t be available for escalations or to make connections or shed any extra light on the buyers and what led them to the decisions that they made. They couldn’t care less if the customer is actually successful. They just want that sweet, sweet "Closed Won" opportunity in their CRM.
Reality Check ✅
Sales reps know that healthy customers are the most likely to upgrade, so they care deeply about customers seeing value post-sales.
The best sales teams have a holistic view of customers. In fact, in the SaaS space, sales teams know that oftentimes most of the ARR from a customer will be added after their initial contract is signed. And they know that customers who are healthy, happy, and achieving their goals are the ones who are most likely to succeed.
Sales reps have a vested interest in the success of customers post-sales. They can offer unique value to the CSM as they work with a customer on their goals.
This leads us to our final myth.
This myth is the most pernicious and undergirds all the other myths.
CSMs can believe that once the sales team has closed the deal, their value ends there. They are just another voice asking about the customer’s status as they hover around looking for their next upsell opportunity.
Reality Check ✅
Sales teams play a unique role in helping Customer Success teams fully engage customers.
When Customer Success teams and sales teams are working in tandem, the value provided to the customer is second to none. The ways this plays out for the benefit of CSMs are endless.
Here are some ways this is true:
The list is endless for the value that a sales team can bring to a CSM, so this myth has got to go.
Now that you’re aware of the myths you likely believe, and the reality that replaces those myths, now what? What can you do to break the cycle of these myths?
Here are 3 things you can start doing today to stop perpetuating these myths.
Assume positive intent. If the sales team does something that doesn't make sense to you, assume that they're not trying to make your job harder. Bring your thoughts to them and find out what they think.
Build relationships now. Don’t wait until you need something from the sales team to begin building relationships. Take the time now to begin getting to know them so you can know who to go to when you have questions about the myths above.
Ask how you can add value for them. When is the last time you asked a member of the sales team what value you could bring their way? Or how your team could help them with their goals? Relationships are a two-way street, and we can often neglect the contribution we should bring to the table.
Busting these myths in your org won’t be easy. They're perpetuated for a reason. But if you commit to seeing past these myths and getting to know the real individuals in your company, you can contribute to something powerful.
Here is a question-asking framework to use during your initial customer calls to uncover their goals, success metrics, and other valuable information.
Enablement is the engine of Customer Success. CS leaders – if you wish to boost your team's productivity programmatically, here is everything you need to get started.