3 Tips on How To Improve Sales and Customer Success Alignment

by | 5 Jan 23

What we can learn from Netflix, Amazon and Apple

Revenue Operations (RevOps) is all about team alignment and collaboration. We (people in revenue-generating teams) have a lot to learn from the top Product Teams in today’s greatest businesses. Especially, their incredible knack for successful cross-functional work!

The very best product teams are made up of a group of people who all have different line managers and reporting lines. For example in a team you’ll find:

  • Product Manager – reporting to Head or VP of Product
  • Tech Lead and a handful of engineers – reporting to Head or VP of Engineering
  • Designer – reporting to either Product, Engineering or User Experience
  • User Researcher – reporting to User Experience or Product

It’s remarkable how the folks in this group answer when asked who they work with. Instead of saying “I’m in Sales” or “I’m in the Customer Success Team”, they tell you all about their cross-functional team and what it does!

“I’ve worked with these teams and I love how they see that group of people as their team, not their reporting line. This is the essence of what RevOps is trying to achieve.” – Tom Parkinson, Accelerate.

Forget the reporting lines. Put the customer at the centre of your thoughts and work together on solving their problems. Revenue becomes a by-product of this! A very welcomed by-product too! 😊

It’s well known that sales and customer success teams need to align to make your business successful. We’ve seen that when these teams are working well together, customers get the best possible experience. And most important, customers are being helped to achieve their goals. Perfect!

In this blog we’ll be going through 3 tips that will help you and your Small-to-Medium Business overcome some common pitfalls. Master these, and you’ll be flying. Just like the Netflix, Amazon and Apple product teams!

Table of Contents

Use these links to jump straight to the part of the article that interests you most. > What is RevOps? > Tip 1: Make them feel like one team > Tip 2: Create common expectations > Tip 3: Provide tools to nail the customer handover

Before we start. What is RevOps?

It’s a pretty new term and something that you will see and hear more about over the coming months and years.

RevOps is an approach that focuses on revenue generation. It does this by optimising the systems and collaboration of different groups in a business. This includes Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and other revenue-generating teams. When done well it improves your customer’s experience and drives the company’s growth. You can read a more in-depth explanation in our What is RevOps? article.

Tip 1: Make them feel like one team

To help get this alignment working, leaders should create clear communication lines between the Sales and Customer Success teams. Taking note from the structure and ethos of product development teams again, this communication cadence will help:

15-minute daily meetings

Often referred to as ‘Stand-Ups’. In these sessions each person mentions what they did yesterday, the successes they had, and problems they need help with. And then finish off with what will happen today. It’s amazing how these short meetings improve relationships and increase motivation.

Bi-weekly retrospectives

These retros are key to cultivating a culture of trust and openness. This gives everyone a chance to reflect on what went well over the last 2 weeks and discuss. There are several methods to a retro, but one of the most popular is: Start, Stop, Continue. The team lists what they need to start doing in the next two weeks, what they need to stop doing and what went so well that they need to continue doing it. This constant refinement of work improves collaboration and team culture.

Monthly show-and-tells

The cross-functional team meet with stake-holders to share information. This will include talking through key metrics and discussing current projects. The very best teams also review feedback from customers. What’s important here is that business leaders foster an environment of collaboration. Encouraging open dialogue and allowing for creative problem-solving is a must. Especially without fear of repercussions from higher-ups.

Tip 2: Create common expectations

As a business leader you need to make sure you’ve aligned the expectations of your sales and customer success teams. If they have different goals they will be working towards different outcomes. So, the key is to ensure that both teams are working together in harmony with aligned goals.

And, again, you need to make sure the customer’s desired outcomes are at the forefront of the teams mind.

If you use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or something else to measure performance, it doesn’t matter. You can use whatever is best for your business. But you need to make sure that expectations are common for Sales and Customer Success.

Here are some examples of common goals that our clients have recently set:

  • Increase customer engagement
  • Improve customer onboarding and usage
  • Reduce churn rate
  • Maximise up-sells and cross-sells opportunities
  • Improve user adoption of new features
  • Increase time to value for customers

It’s clear to see how these examples are important to Sales and Customer Success. When they are working on these together your customers have a better experience. They’ll also stay with you longer and even go on to recommend you.

Tip 3: Provide tools to nail the customer handover

So, tips 1 and 2 helped you improve communications and to implement aligned goals. Great! Now it’s time to make sure you empower both teams with the right tools to do their job. One key part of this collaboration is the handover of customers from Sales to Customer Success.

Jo Massie, the VP of Customer Success at Slido has a great point to add:

“Consider where that handover should happen. Is waiting until the deal is closed the right time to first bring Customer Success to the table? Or actually, could they be leveraged to get the deal over the line? Introducing the CSM role early can really help to demonstrate that the teams work as partners for the benefit of the customer.”
Jo Massie, VP of Customer Success at Slido

Getting this right will include a deep understanding of the customer, and the potential deal. But it also includes the use of CRM and Customer Success platforms; and communication tools.

You’ll probably have some of this software already. But, it’s key to make sure you find the time to integrate them and automate as much as possible. Reducing the mundane tasks in the customers early days will pave the way for happier cross-functional teams and much happier customers.

To wrap up

As mentioned above, Silicon Valley’s product teams drove the art of cross-functional collaboration. And this spread across the world with amazing success. We, in RevOps, need to aspire to replicate this. It comes down to a few key elements that are essential for successful team alignment. Trust, communication, respect and a shared understanding of what problems need to be solved. The 3 tips above will help you do that.

If you need any help with implementing alignment across your teams, feel free to get in touch.