Sales-to-Customer Success Handoff: A Complete Guide

Sales to customer success handoff

So, you’ve closed the deal. Well done! Although the feeling is always great, the job is merely done. What comes next is ensuring that your new customer gets the most from their recent purchase. This is where a customer success manager steps in to provide guidance through each stage of the customer journey and hopefully turn a new customer into a loyal brand ambassador. 

In SaaS, a sales to customer success handoff is one of the key moments that sets the tone for the entire customer’s journey with your company. If you wish to learn more about this strategic process, tips for its upgrade, mistakes to avoid and much more, stay with us. 

What Is the Sales-to-Success Handoff?

The sales-to-success handoff refers to the process where a customer account transitions from the sales team to the customer success team. After a purchase, the sales team focuses on new prospects, while customer success teams ensure that a new customer goes smoothly through the onboarding process, experiencing maximum satisfaction along the way. 

The sales handoff process is a critical moment in the customer journey, as it marks and determines the quality of the relationship you start building with a new customer. It typically includes transferring information from sales to customer success teams about the customer, like their preferences, needs, and goals. Also, this is the point where new customers get introduced to their customer success managers, who are responsible for helping them achieve success with the product. 

If the handoff process is handled well, it results in a positive customer experience that can lead to increased satisfaction and customer retention, which is the ultimate goal of any CS manager. 

Components of Sales-to-Customer Success Document

A sales-to-customer success document, handoff document or playbook, is a guide that outlines the process for a new customer transitioning from sales to CS teams. Now, let’s see which typical components it includes:

  • Introduction
    • It discusses the importance and purpose of the document, along with a short explanation of the handoff process. 
  • A list of key stakeholders
    • It includes all the key relevant team members that are part of the handoff process, like customer success managers, sales reps, etc.
  • Customer data
    • Name, company size, industry, contact information, and any relevant background information. 
  • Details about the sales process
    • Details such as the status of the sale, the sales rep responsible for the case, and other important details about the customer’s purchase. 
  • The customer’s goals and needs
    • This document serves as an overview of the customer’s needs and expectations recognized and documented during the sales process. 
  • Customer key milestones and timelines
    • Customers’ envisioned milestones and detailed timelines that want to follow,
  • Communication plan
    • It includes introduction emails, check-ins, etc.
  • Support and training resources
    • Resources like tutorials, documentation, contact information for customer support, etc. 
  • Metrics and reporting
    • Include a list of the crucial metrics for tracking success of the handoff process.
  • A follow-up plan
    • This type of plan helps you follow up with the customers after the handoff to address any concerns or issues. 
  • Additional resources
    • Handoff templates and documents can be useful for the handoff process. 

How to Create a Sales-to-Customer Success Workflow?

Although developing an entirely new workflow from scratch can easily seem like a daunting task, we assure you that it becomes much easier if you follow these steps:

1. Define responsibilities and roles

Before you commit to creating a sales to CS workflow, we suggest you take time to check whether the sales and CS teams fully understand their roles and responsibilities. 

2. Gather vital customer information

One of the main responsibilities of sales teams is to carefully collect all the customer data, like company size, industry, pricing needs, company goals, tools used to achieve the given goals, product concerns, special needs and requirements, etc. Transferring all relevant data from sales to customer success teams is essential at this stage. 

3. Properly gathering and storing documentation

When gathering data, it is crucial to eliminate manual data entry to save time. You can use intake surveys, a standardized sales-to-customer success handoff template, automated transcripts from sales calls, online forms, and other similar channels to gather data and then store it in a shared hub where everyone has access to it. CRM software or spreadsheets are some of the most recommended options.

4. Introducing customers to CSM

What comes next is introducing a new customer to their customer success manager and giving them information about how to contact them for assistance or support. You can create a sales-to-customer success handoff email template that contains all the information customers need about your CSM and steps to follow. 

5. Set clear expectations

Be transparent with your customer from the very start. Set clear expectations with your customers about what they can expect from CS teams and tell them more about the processes that will help them achieve their goals with your product. 

6. Monitor the success journey

Just as sales reps are responsible for gathering and documenting data, customer success managers are responsible for ensuring smooth customer onboarding, rapid product adoption, customer support, training, and customer advocacy. To evaluate the effectiveness of CS efforts, make sure to monitor the handoff process and gather feedback from both teams and the customers to identify areas for improvement. 

Tips for Upgrading Your Sales-to-Success Handoff Process

Besides the aforementioned steps that you can include in your workflow to speed up and facilitate the handoff processes, we highly recommend you offer training and development opportunities for both sales and CS teams. Training and other materials will help them collaborate better and more efficiently. 

Having a reliable communication channel for data sharing is key, so consider using a CRM where you can also track customer interactions. Akita is integrated with any CRM, which allows you to get and analyze comprehensive customer data so that the CS teams can tailor their approach based on relevant information. You can learn how to perform customer segmentation within minutes, separate cohorts based on their shared traits, and create and launch targeted customer success campaigns to get maximum value from each customer. 

Finally, make sure to automate all the processes you can. Create various sales handoff templates related to email and data collection so that you can save time doing what matters most – building long-term customer relationships.

Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid to ensure a smooth handoff process:

  1. Failing to communicate 
    • A lack of communication about the relevant customer information can lead to gaps in service. 
  2. Bad timing
    • If the handoff happens too early, customers may feel neglected, but if it happens too late, they might feel frustrated. Make sure to find the right balance between progress and customer’s needs.
  3. Incomplete customer data
    • This one happens a lot and it always leads to confusion and delays. Before the process starts, make sure that all the important data is transferred between the teams.
  4. No follow-ups
    • After the handoff, it is crucial to continue communicating with customers to ensure their needs have been met. Failing to do so can lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn.
  5. Not taking customer feedback into account
    • Customer feedback provides valuable insights into the handoff process, so make sure to collect it and act on it.
  6. Not monitoring metrics
    • Monitoring customer retention rates, satisfaction levels, and upsell opportunities allows you to assess the efficacy of the handoff process whenever needed. 

Why Should You Work on Your Sales Handoff Process? 

Working on and perfecting the sales handoff process can bring your business several benefits:

  • Positive customer experience
    • A smooth handoff process can ensure that customers have a positive customer experience. By leaving a great first impression, you are creating a solid foundation for the customer relationship. 
  • Increased customer retention and loyalty
    • If moving from sales to customer success is done properly, it can lead to higher customer retention rates and increased loyalty. If you show your customers that you genuinely listen to their needs and challenges, you can build strong bonds with them and expect loyalty in return. 
  • Upsell and cross-sell opportunities
    • If you manage to understand customer needs to the core, your customer success teams can better identify and recommend additional features or services that can help customers achieve success, and by doing so get the revenue growth. With customer segmentation software, you can segment customers based on any trait you find important. Also, you can identify upsell opportunities inside Salesforce.
  • Better collaboration within teams
    • A standardized handoff process can improve efficiency between sales teams and customer success teams. Suppose you manage to clearly define responsibilities and roles and maintain clear and reliable communication channels. In that case, you can rest assured that all data is shared effectively and that no customer falls through the cracks. 
  • Shorter Time-To-Value
    • If the handoff process is done right, you can expect it to reduce a customer’s time-to-value, which is the amount of time needed for a customer to realize that purchasing the given product was worth it.

Conclusion 

The sales-to-customer success handoff is a process that builds the foundation for the entire customer relationship. It is a process of transitioning a new customer account from sales to customer success teams, which can if done properly, improve customer retention, satisfaction, and customer lifetime value. 

By following the guidelines we provided above, you can better understand customer needs from the very start and never miss a chance to exceed customer expectations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sales handoff to customer success?

It is the process of transitioning a new customer account from sales to customer success teams.

How should sales and customer success work together?

Sales and customer success should work together to ensure a seamless customer experience and improve customer success. Working together includes communicating clearly, sharing the same goals, having a collaborative strategy,  meeting regularly, and having necessary training opportunities.

What is the sales handover process?

The sales handover process or sales handoff process, is the process of transferring a new customer account from sales to the CS team, The process occurs after a customer purchases a product or signs up and marks the start of the post-sales relationship.

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