Customer Success and Sales are two halves of an optimal customer experience. On the surface they might seem opposites but they are actually interconnected and strengthen each other the more they interrelate.
Whether B2C, product-led, SMB (small and medium business) or enterprise, the most successful buying processes focus on helping customers understand how they can achieve value from the products they invest in. Top sales teams genuinely want this for this their customers, but often don’t have visibility to the details of the post-sale customer journey, so it’s easy for them to overlook details during the transition that Customer Success Managers (CSMs) and/or Customer Onboarding Managers (COMs) would consider key.
It’s particularly important for enterprise customers or in a land & expand model for Success teams to proactively provide Sales teams with a framework for knowledge transfer that captures key information gathered during the buying process. Why is this knowledge transfer so important?
- It continues to build the trust that was established during the buying process
- It reduces potential friction of asking the customer to once again cover items that were already discussed
- As a part of a New Customer Playbook, an introduction by the AE of the CSM/COM ensures the Economic Buyer and Buying Sponsor are connected to the Success team.
- Even better, when you can introduce the CSM at the late stages of the buying process.
- It provides clarity around the desired outcomes so the onboarding process remains focused on these instead of activation or go-live
- It’s very common that the customer team making the buying decision is different from the one using the solution. Knowing the desired outcomes and the key buying stakeholders are helpful if onboarding stalls within the customer organization and during renewal discussions
Successful customers are referenceable, and according to Forrester Research are 50% more likely to try a new product and 30% more likely to buy it. Sales teams have the opportunity to partner with Success teams to prioritize the exercise of sharing this information. It’s sometimes easy to dismiss how important this knowledge sharing can be, and suggest the CSM listen to the call and demo recordings, or read the notes in the CRM. Over the years I’ve seen too much inconsistency around how – and even if – this information is documented but it is almost always uncovered and available to be shared with. This short investment upfront can save time and frustration later.
The checklist below is one that’s been helpful for teams I’ve worked with so I’m sharing with you. I’d love to hear your feedback on if this is helpful, if there is anything else you would add or any other approaches that have worked for you.
Customer Knowledge Transfer Checklist
Basic customer info
- Who is the customer? What do they do?
- Are there other divisions that sales are currently pursuing an opportunity with?
- Are there up-sell/ cross sell opportunities and how can the CSM influence these?
Customer Org Structure
- Who are the Key Stakeholders / Core Contacts ?
- Economic Buyer or Funder
- Key Influencer(s) or Sponsor(s) (aka – key Sales contacts through the buying process)
- Operational Lead (aka – key contact post-sale)
- Power Users / Admin Users
- Were there any tense moments during the buying process where any of the key contacts didn’t seem supportive of the solution? Who and what were the circumstances?
- Where is each stakeholder located (for ease of meeting coordination)?
- Brief summary of the contract terms. Is there anything unique or outstanding?
- Plan Level? Term? Discounts? Trial?
- SLA? Part of bigger MSA?
- Payment Terms?
- Which product(s) did they buy? Why did they buy (aka – what problem are they trying to solve)?
- Will the solution replace a manual process or existing system? Which system?
- What does success look like for the customer? By when?
- Were there any key features they wanted? Felt they didn’t need?
- Have any usage goals or expectations been shared?
- Were any expectations stated or set around onboarding timelines?
- Is there an expected go-live date?
- Note to CSM/COM: onboarding focus should be on value or outcomes not “go-live”
- Was an onboarding / training schedule or format discussed?
- Does the customer have an idea of how the solution will fit into their existing business processes?
- Did the customer purchase any additional services? Is there an SOW or Invoice?
- Was any new or future functionality positioned during the buying process?
- Who were the competitors?
- Were there any concerns during the buying process that haven’t been discussed so far?
- Did we commit to anything else that hasn’t been covered so far?