Merging sales and customer success (CS) is a delicate art that is often challenging but necessary for driving business results and creating a frictionless customer journey. In Part 1 of our “Harmonizing the Hustle between sales and customer success” podcast series with the Customer Success Collective, Chris Dishman, SVP of Global Customer Success at Totango, drilled into the unique ability CS has in aligning cross-functional partners—sales, product, and marketing—to the opportunities that can drive customer value.
In Part 2 of this hot topic series, Taylor Hodges, Global Head of Customer Success for the Corrigo Enterprise product at JLL Technologies, shares how her team takes a unique approach to this task by aligning cross-functional GTM teams by industry vertical. In Hodges’ episode of the CS School podcast, she discusses how JLL successfully implemented this strategy, the early benefits they’re seeing in terms of customer outcomes, and the opportunities ahead to establish best-in-class processes. Check out three key highlights from the podcast and listen to the entire episode to learn how vertical alignment can help GTM teams drive growth and increase customer value.
Foster cross-functional alignment through common customer goals
Alignment is most frequently achieved when there’s clarity and commonality around insight and objective. With a complex product and variety in customer needs and maturity, JLL saw an opportunity to combine forces and create common ground across their sales, CS, and product teams. Teaming leaders from each of these functions to focus on a respective industry, these “pods” work together to build deep knowledge and vertical expertise.
Each pod consists of two account executives, two customer success managers (CSMs), and a product manager who meet weekly to review Totango scorecard metrics for the vertical and discuss opportunities, risks, renewals, product roadmaps, and more. This integrated focus affords pods the unique ability to understand market needs, identify best practices, nurture advocates, and collaborate on innovation related to a targeted audience while also being agile in their approach and execution.
“Our hypothesis is that NPS is going to improve for each vertical,” Hodges said. “We did realize that from the first half of this year to the second half of this year, we saw an increase by 47% and 16% in our top two verticals related to the NPS score.” While it may still be too early to measure the full impact of this strategy, the early indicators are encouraging. Hodges notes that they’re working on strategies to further define KPIs, decide what they want the NPS score to look like for each vertical, and refine teams as needed to meet their goals.
“Overall, we’re trying to come together to work better as a team so that we can understand what is working well in this particular vertical, what’s not working well, where we have opportunities to innovate from a product perspective, and how we are driving advocacy,” Hodges said.
Introduce CS early in the customer journey to accelerate time-to-value
Creating a frictionless process for the customer requires the CS team to get involved in the customer journey as early as possible. By working cross-functionally with their vertical partners in sales and product even as early as the pre-sales cycle, the CS team can garner deeper insights into the customer, like why they purchased the product, what they hope to achieve using the product, and how they intend to measure success. The GTM team uses these insights to determine the best way to work together to set customers up for success and future growth.
For example, Hodges explained that JLL’s CS team is taking an earlier role in the pre-sales cycle by having the vertical CSM join demos for prospects, which puts a face to the CS organization for the prospect, starts to build a relationship, and ultimately allows them to lead with CS as a key differentiator. “We feel that bringing customer success to the table early helps increase our win rate; it lowers the customer acquisition cost, which sales is always happy about, and it allows us to start engaging in creating relationships with the customer and aligning with their objectives before they onboard so that they have a more seamless experience through their customer journey; and it accelerates that time-to-value,” she said.
Focus on the customer experience holistically to drive revenue and retention
Customer success is not something that only one team is responsible for; it’s the job of every customer-facing team. Hodges explains that every touchpoint should drive positive outcomes because these individual experiences are what drive customer satisfaction, stickiness, expansion, and ultimately, revenue. “Each interaction with our customers is an opportunity to build or break trust, and customer success cannot do this alone,” Hodges said. “Every step in the customer journey should reflect our passion for our customers and our part in driving their business forward.”
Implement the right strategies and tools to build positive internal and external relationships
“We’ve definitely found that the stronger the relationship is between the customer success manager and the sales leader, the more successful the customer is and the more that we’re able to grow,” Hodges said. By aligning sales, CS, and product teams by industry vertical, businesses can foster mutually beneficial cross-functional relationships while also creating seamless and valuable experiences for customers throughout their journey.
Listen to the entire CS School podcast for more insights about vertical alignment in a CS strategy and learn how Totango’s customizable tools can help provide visibility and insight for each team and vertical.