May 27, 2020

Issue #5: The case for bringing Customer Success into the sales cycle

Chris Hicken By Chris Hicken
CEO at Nuffsaid
bringing CSMs into the sales cycle

From an interview with:

jess

 

Many Sales orgs can be resistant to bringing in Customer Success before the deal is closed. It’s only natural; Sales wants to be in control of every aspect of the deal, so bringing in an additional person to talk to the customer can add a level of uncertainty. 

 

Since I joined Lucidworks, we’ve evolved our process from having a distinct handoff between Sales and CS to one where the AE brings in the CSM when they’re around 70% to closing the deal. This provides a much better experience for the customer for two reasons: 

  1. The customer doesn’t have to repeat anything. The Success person gets looped into the customer’s situation and goals early and is able to help them get value out of the product much faster.
  2. The customer gets to see what it’s like to work with Lucidworks. That’s going to give the customer much more confidence and increase the AE’s likelihood of closing the deal.

 

Evolving this process requires a cultural shift and it doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s some of my advice for others looking to make this transition:

 

  1. Positioning to Sales: Since Sales can get territorial, we needed to continuously tell them, “Hey, we’re here to add onto what you’re doing—we’re not here to take anything away. We want to help close the deal by making sure the customer feels comfortable that when they sign the contract, they know they’re going to be taken care of.” This takes time and a lot of relationship-building with your peers and the sales reps, but it’ll start to get easier when they see you prove the value—and when they see how the customers respond to being able to work with their CSM before the deal is closed. It’s been less than one year and we’re already used to having the Sales team reaching out and asking to bring CSMs in to their deals, to tell the potential customers what it’s like to work with Lucidworks. 
  2. Positioning to customers: Sales and Success should also explain to customers why the CSM is joining calls before the deal is closed. The idea here is to say, “When you come to Lucidworks, we’re going to take care of you. We already know your situation and the goals you have—you won’t have to repeat every single thing you’ve told Sales, then the Sales engineer, then everyone else you’ve talked to. We document these things and they’re handed off to everyone working with you. And your CSM has already been working with you so they can help you realize value quicker.” Then, you can also position this as doing a proof of concept with the CSM. “Think of us as part of the POC. You get the chance to actually understand what it’s like to work with us before you make a commitment.” 

  3. Show the value at every opportunity. As Sales starts to bring in Success earlier, make sure to get qualitative and quantitative feedback—from Sales, the Success team, and the customers. Ask the Success team to share any and all comments they’re seeing about the change in the process. Then, report back on what your team is seeing on the front lines. If you can show that customers appreciate being able to meet the CSM, that will help other (more hesitant) Sales team members see the value.

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The top articles this week: 

This week's newsletter features posts on: 

  • GitLab's Customer Success Vision
  • Why Writing in Remote Work Matters
  • Tips to Take Friction Out of Your Sales Cycle
  • 10 Years in Tech

 

STRATEGY

GitLab's Customer Success Vision

GitLab is uniquely thorough and transparent with their internal documentation. Here’s how they’ve mapped out their customer journey, where they see Success headed in terms of responsibility, their KPIs, how they specify churn, and more.

Read the full post

 

COMMUNICATION

Why Does Writing Matter in Remote Work?

Here’s an insightful take on why using writing as your main communication channel makes teams more efficient and inclusive.

Read the full post

 

PROCESS

50 Top Tips to Take Friction Out of Your Sales Cycle

Here’s a list of tips and techniques from founders, CEOs, and CROs at companies like Brex and Shopify on reducing friction in sales cycles—but much of the advice listed are applicable for CS teams as well. 

Read the full post

 

INDUSTRY

10 Years in Tech

Geoff Roberts, Co-founder of Outseta, provides candid observations from his 10 years of work within the tech industry. He attempts to give “an objective look at the world of technology start-ups—the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Read the full post