Do you think of sales reps as people who’d sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo?

A year ago, that’s what I thought. But then I learned more about sales ...

And I’ve also learned that aligning sales and customer service teams is the key to increasing sales velocity while keeping retention high.

Use these five steps from the playbook we use here at HubSpot to improve the relationship between these teams and give your customers an easy transition.

5 Steps to a Successful Sales to Service Handoff

1) Start from the top.

Sales and Customer Service leadership must be on the same page. In fact, some companies believe this so much they’re blending the sales and service manager roles into one.

When the leaders of different departments are regularly talking, they’re far less likely to set and chase conflicting goals.

It might seem simple, but if you’re a leader in the sales or customer success teams at your company, set up a weekly 1:1 to discuss top priorities. Hearing the other perspective will help you make decisions that benefit the entire company.

2) Align sales and customer success goals.

Customer success goals should include the sales team’s new business targets, and sales targets must include the customer service team’s retention goals.

Sales could smooth-talk anyone into buying your product without ever considering customer fit. And yes, the customer success department could hit their retention goal more easily if they refunded new customers who weren’t a 100% perfect. fit. But neither scenario produces the best outcome for the customer or the business.

Here’s an example of the quarterly customer service targets we use at HubSpot. As you can see, both sales and customer service targets are represented.


3) Include the sales team in a weekly customer success report card.

Sales reps are focused on bringing in new business for the company. That unwavering focus makes them successful.

But getting them more invested in customer retention is relatively simple -- just keep them in the loop on the customer success team’s progress and playbook.

This strategy also helps them speak knowledgeably about the customer service hand-off once they've closed a new customer.

Choosing the right medium is critical because sales reps are notoriously guarded with their time. Since they spend most of their day in their inbox, my team chose email.

Weekly emails are easy to read and digest. Take a look at a mock-up of one below:

4) Create a buddy system.

This one might sound borrowed from your kindergarten curriculum, but trust me -- it improves the sales to service handoff immensely. Sales reps like having a customer success representative they can talk to and trust. So give them one. This relationship humanizes both departments and gives the customer services representative an opportunity to teach (and if your services team is like mine, they like that).

At our company, we create Google Slide decks of updates for the sales team. These give sales reps the opportunity to ask questions, and the customer success team gets valuable insights on the handoff and other collaborative efforts from the sales reps.

Disclaimer: The customer service team did have to buy the sales team lunch to steal their time without complaints.

5) Leverage the @mention in the handoff process.

If you use a CRM, you know what the @mention is. If you don’t use a CRM, you should be using one to manage your customer relationships. (Hint: We offer free CRM software here at HubSpot).

Typing @mention [name] while on a customer’s contact record in the CRM will tag the appropriate sales or services rep. They’ll get an email notification with your comment.

This is a quick and easy way to get a rep’s attention and keep them connected with the customer experience -- even after the close. Here are my team’s most common uses of @mention:

  1. When the services rep gets extra information from the sales rep about the customer before the first onboarding call
  2. If either the sales or service reps celebrate a customer win or upgrade opportunity
  3. When the sales rep is checking in on how a high-value customer is doing

Pro tip: Don’t let the @mention take the place of walking over to a sales rep’s desk. Make sure both teams are getting face-to-face time, too.

There’s No ‘I’ in Customer Success

Many customer success teams believe improving the customer experience is limited to the customers who purchase. But the more you collaborate with Sales before the purchase, the better the customer handoff will be -- and the less support you’ll need for problems down the line.

I’ll be writing more about customer success in future posts, so subscribe to the HubSpot Service Blog (and follow me on LinkedIn) to read my latest stuff.

A version of this blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Originally published Nov 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated September 05 2019


Customer Onboarding