It may seem obvious to most salespeople, but I'll say it anyway: The sales cycle doesn't stop after the sale -- once a prospect turns into a customer, your company needs to delight them.

The first step post-sale is to transition from a prospect-salesperson relationship to a customer-account manager one. Assuming your organization has account managers who manage the relationship post-sale, it is important to work with them closely to ensure the switch is smooth for the customer.

Effectively communicating information about your customer to your account manager and having them employ active listening and discovery to establish a foundation for success can be the difference between customer happiness and losing an account.

Prepping for the Transition

Before you complete the hand-off of your new customer to an account manager, brief the AM about the customer.

First, there's the information you have recorded, including company, role, contact information, brief notes from your calls, and lead history, in a CRM system, such as Salesforce. Then, there are those important bits of info between the lines -- the customer's personality, priorities, pet peeves, and concerns, as well as the things you should say to them and the things you shouldn't.

Your customer has gotten used to conversing with you during the sales cycle and vice versa. This makes helping your account manager understand the finer nuances of how to interact with a new customer essential to make the transition period as smooth as possible.

Active Listening and Discovery

Once your account manager is caught up, they will need to start the conversation with the customer to determine a plan of action to ensure their experience with your company is a success.

The objective of active listening and discovery is to learn and establish specific goals, who is responsible on the customer’s side for reaching these goals, and their time frame. Make sure to listen to what the customer has to say and make note of details, especially anything numerical and measurable. If your customer doesn’t know specifics, work with them to discover what they are.

You may have covered some of these questions earlier in the sales cycle, but now, it is important to actually assist the customer in creating a solid plan with proper details to help them achieve their goals. Especially with moving parts, such as the transfer of most responsibility from the salesperson to an account manager, it’s important to all be on the same page.

Questions to Ask

To help establish specific goals for the customer, your account manager will need to ask questions that have measurable, quantifiable answers. Here are some examples:

  • What are your current goals?
  • What are you currently doing to reach those goals?
  • What results have you seen from these measures so far?
  • What is your top priority?
  • What are your primary responsibilities?
  • What are you/your team responsible for?

Your customers will either know their goals or they won’t. They might not always have a ready answer, so you need to know what lever to pull. Sometimes, you may need to work backwards. Asking questions such as, "How much X do you want to get to in the next year?" can give you a solid number to start with. Follow up by asking, "Now how much Y will it take to get to that goal?" Whenever possible, work with solid numbers so that you can measure results.

Like the pre-sale process, post-sale is also a consultative one. You aren't throwing a product or service at your customer and saying, "Here you go -- this will fix your problems. Bye!" and then splitting. Rather, you are providing a solution, and part of that solution is your company's continued involvement to see things through.

A customer who gets high-quality service and support is a happy one -- and happy customers can be your greatest asset.

Do you have other methods for helping transition a new customer to one of your account managers? How do you ensure you customers remain happy during this process? Let us know!

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Originally published Oct 7, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated August 29 2018