Why CS & Sales Should be Friends, not Enemies

September 29, 2020

Sheik Ayube

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Strategy

As a sales leader in a thriving Customer Success marketplace, it pains me to see the dysfunction that often exists between these two power-house organizations. Is some of that tension warranted? Absolutely. Political tug of war over revenue, CS cleaning up ‘bad-fit’ customers, sales running out of referenceable clients from less-than-ideal delivery scenarios.

But what both sales and CS professionals need to realize is that in most cases, this dysfunction is caused from company strategy and processes (or lack thereof). Your counterparts are not intentionally sabotaging you! Companies with the happiest customers (and happiest employees to support them), manage to put their differences aside and partner together – because the benefits are plentiful and irrefutable. Here are the top six reasons I’ve personally observed over the years:

1. CS is tied to revenue

Investments in Customer Success are tied to growth, often top-line revenue growth. Qualtrics reported that 84% of organizations working to improve CX report an increase in revenue. In other words, enabling your sales team to be successful will directly impact YOU in CS. That’s right. That promotion you want, or that brand new CS tool you’ve been asking for is heavily reliant on shiny new logos (and lots of them).

2. Shorter sales cycles

Sales guys and gals – interested in accelerating time to close? Have you tried pulling a Customer Success Manager (CSM) into your sales process yet? Not only will this improve credibility with your prospect, but it will make your solution more tangible…sooner. Sure, you can continue talking about how different you are because of your word-class service. Or, you can introduce them to ‘Bill’, whose team will personally be managing their implementation. See, more tangible.

Role model companies have built this early participation of CS into their DNA. However, the absence of this practice does not necessarily mean this is off the table for you. It might be a good time to reach out and start building personal relationships with your CSMs and discovering all the ways you can help each other.

3. Case studies

A highly effective tool on any professional seller’s toolbelt. Without the involvement of Customer Success, sales will likely be resorting to the same select few case studies you’ve been using for years. Peer-to-peer selling techniques are the gold standard. And CS is a key driver in keeping your most effective selling content up to date and relevant. It’s worth noting that case studies will often highlight new use cases for your product or service that you may not have otherwise known. The impact to your selling and delivery ability can be significant.

4. Customer Success Qualified Leads (CSQL)

Whether this premium lead type originates from an existing customer, or their peer network – you will quickly see that these deals will close faster and at a higher conversion rate. Businesses with formal lead programs generate a 10-point difference in subscription revenue growth. Sales folks – that 10-point difference often directly translates to more commissions in your pockets, sooner. CS folks – that 10-point difference is now a dotted line tied to your efforts. If we circle back to point number 1, you will recall the downstream impact this has on your growth and influence at your company.

5. Reduce your costs…drastically

For my sales peers – the net of the first few points (speed, quality, improved conversion rates) will significantly save you time and dollars lost chasing bad deals. A good industry benchmark to reference is that it is six times more cost efficient to sell to your current install base than it is to bring on a new customer.

For my CS peers – the first few points create a compelling case for more sales involvement, sooner. I can promise after that first lead converts to a sale, you’ll have strong partner on the sales team. That means more time back in your hands to focus on higher priority strategic items on your to-do list. And in the world of B2B SaaS, that time is money.

6. Your life will be easier

Sales and CS are two power-house organizations and your ability to partner effectively will impact how efficiently you manage your business, the quality of your delivery, and the quality of your employee experience. Imagine having an ally across the fence instead of an adversary.

The benefits of sales and CS working together instead of fighting each other are profound. Addressing this dysfunction will drive an improved and unified experience for your customers. There is value for all players involved – sales reps, sales leadership, CSMs, CS leadership, financial stakeholders, and anyone vested in pulling the business forward. And let us not forget who this helps most. You. No matter what side of the fence you sit on, building a bridge to your cross-functional peers will save you time and impact your growth.