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3 ideas to foster the best balance between Sales and Customer Success

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The tough thing about bringing on Customer Success into your organization (aside from the hiring and figuring out customer success best practices) is trying to settle the friction that sometimes occurs between sales and customer success. How can you find the balance between sales and customer success while putting the customer at the center of it all?

Maybe you’ve experienced a couple of these scenarios before:

“Sales oversold!” when the customer is disappointed during the onboarding phase (and probably taking it out on the customer success manager).

“Customer Success is not doing their job!” when the renewal doesn’t happen.

Customer Success folks who get caught up in meeting upsell quota and almost forget their role as trusted advisor.

I don’t need to convince you that upsells and renewals are the outcome of a great customer success and sales pairing. Here are 3 ideas borrowed from the likes of Marketo and Angie’s List to help foster better Sales-Customer Success working relationship and processes:

The Handoff

In order to provide the right context of the customer for both Sales and Customer Success, ideally, both functions will be involved with the customer before the actual handoff. Sales should be in charge of sniffing out the customer’s skill set and understand their capabilities. With Customer Success tag teaming with Sales, they can help set actual expectations and commitments. This way, Sales and Customer share the same understanding of what the customer is looking to achieve, what was promised, and how to help the customer achieve these goals. A good way to match up offerings after the sale? Monitor how absorbed the customer is into the product within the first 3 months.

Safe Switch Process

Sometimes renewals are hindered because the original evangelist or power user leaves the customer’s company. Where can Sales and Customer Success partner up to make this switch a successful one? They can implement a “safe switch process”. Assuming you are already monitoring account usage and engagement, keep an eye out on decreasing usage or logins and have your team reach out to see what’s the reason behind this decline. It could be that they went on Sabbatical, changed departments, or straight up left the company! Being prepared for the last 2 situations with a cliff notes version of training on how to re-onboard the new person will demonstrate proactivity and potentially keep them from disengaging from your service.

Tag Team

Put Customer Success in charge of renewals, and with their expert opinion, if customers are ready for a upsell – flag down the Sales team! Customer Success can leverage their product expertise and help the customers find success with the product. A good way to identify this is to establish an in-between health and renewal metric.

What are some things you’re doing differently to make Sales and Customer Success complementary functions when it comes to upsells and renewals?

Interested in getting your business equipped for these processes? Get started here or email Ninon at to learn more.

Jill Rubin

Jill is a senior marketing and business development executive with experience leading successful teams in both large companies and startups. She has taken companies from early stage to strong revenue growth and propelled established businesses to industry leadership positions.

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