Mastering the Sales to Client Services Handoff

Sales and marketing alignment can help you bring in stronger leads, create better sales materials, and convert more valuable customers. But the journey doesn’t end when the sale is closed. Your existing customers are one of the most valuable assets you have — they’re more likely to renew, more open to upsells and cross-sells, and more likely to recommend your product to new customers.

Keeping your existing customers happy means assisting them at every step of the way, which is why the handoff from sales to service is a crucial step. A smooth transition from sale to onboarding to the Client Services team ensures that an account is being managed properly during a vital time in the beginning of the client relationship.

How can you make that happen?

Before the Sale

Before you close a sale, everyone should know what to expect after the sale is complete. Internally, talk to your customer success and service teams and pass on all the information you have about your soon-to-be customer. If a new customer has a question about their account, your CSMs should already have all their information in front of them to help them quickly and efficiently.

Externally, ensure that your prospect has a clear picture of the onboarding process, educational resources, and service options available to them. Create sales collateral explaining what happens after they sign up to reassure them they’ll have support should any questions arise.

Internal Handoff

The internal handoff is the process by which the sales team transfers any information about the new customer to the service and success teams. At the end of this process, your CS teams should be equipped with all the relevant information they need about new customers, from contract details to key decision-makers on the account to the goals and pain points of this particular client.

If you use a CRM (and you should), you’ll have a head start — much of this information will be added by the marketing and sales teams before the sale is even closed. If you’re not, you’ll need to sit down with the sales and CS teams to spell out exactly what information the CS teams need. A product like HubSpot rolls sales, marketing, and service into one cohesive product that ensures a seamless customer experience, smooth internal handoffs, and comprehensive communication throughout the cycle.

External Handoff

The external handoff should be extremely simple — from the customer’s view, it should be no more complicated than a simple introduction email or meeting. In that introduction, be sure to explain:

  • Who will be servicing the account
  • How to get in touch with them
  • What the onboarding process will look like
  • How to find other educational resources

If you explained most of this to the customer in the pre-sale phase, it won’t come as a surprise. The kickoff should be done quickly after the sale is closed so that the sales team can move on to other leads and the customer can get started using your product.

Onboarding

The onboarding process is vitally important to retaining customers — according to Hubspot, 55 percent of customers say they’ve returned a product because they didn’t know how to use it, and 63 percent consider the company’s onboarding process when making a purchasing decision.

By the end of the onboarding process, your customers should be able to start using the product, integrating it into their everyday workflow, and setting it up for other users without asking you for help. Your approach will vary, depending on the type of product or service and customer you have.

For some low-maintenance customers and uncomplicated products, a simple email that answers common questions and introduces key features will be enough to get started. For others, you might need to customize your process to meet your customers’ specific needs, have an involved onboarding process, and follow up with them regularly to make sure that things are running smoothly.

Confirmation and Feedback

The handoff is complete when your customer service and success teams confirm to the sales team that the client has finished onboarding and is using the product as intended. This confirmation is important to ensure that customers don’t fall through the cracks before they’re ready to start using the product without help.

This is also an excellent opportunity to tweak and refine the process. If the CS team is consistently getting the same question, maybe the sales or marketing teams can answer it in the pre-sale phase. Talk about how the handoff can be executed faster or personalized better, additional information that should be in the onboarding materials, or other alterations.

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