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Customer Success

The Difference Between a Sales and Customer Success Team

Customer Success

As business solutions grow increasingly complex, some buyers require additional assistance to successfully introduce new products or services into their companies. It’s no longer enough for business-to-business (B2B) sales organizations to sell a product or service and leave the customer to their own devices—today they need support and knowledge over the long haul. 

The need for longer-term success is why Customer Success teams are becoming increasingly common in B2B sales organizations. However, it’s important for sales leadership to understand that Customer Success is not the same as other sales functions. Here, we take a look at the key ways in which these two roles are different and why a Customer Success team may be exactly what your organization needs.customer success

Sales Versus Customer Success

A inside sales team and a Customer Success team are different in several key ways:

Overall goals

For sales professionals, their top priority is closing the deal by helping the customer identify the best solution for their needs. They work to bring in new customers and demonstrate the features and benefits of the company’s products or services. They are typically quota driven. 

For Customer Success representatives, post-sales success is the main focus. Their goal is to continue to nurture the customer relationship in order to ensure they successfully adopt the product or service, are satisfied with their purchase and, ideally, become lifelong customers. 

In difficult times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Customer Success team is also vital for proactively maintaining key relationships and ensuring customers feel supported. 

Key job functions

Your sales team most likely spends most days on a few important tasks, including lead nurturing, closing new contracts and, in some organizations, prospecting for new leads—basically, everything that comes before a contract is signed.

A Customer Success team, on the other hand, is typically responsible for everything that comes after a finalized contract, including:

  • Customer onboarding, which includes educating customers about your products and how they should be incorporated into their operations 
  • Providing technical and product support
  • Experience management
  • Using a CRM system to gather and track key data on new and existing customers
  • Gathering and analyzing customer feedback 
  • Revitalization and renewal of existing customers
  • Identifying opportunities for revenue expansion through upselling and cross-selling

Interactions with customers

A sales rep may work with a lead for weeks or even months before closing a sale, pulling in sales engineers as needed to provide more technical information on a product or service. 

After the sale, the Customer Success team will interact with that customer for as long as they remain a customer. A Customer Success rep may also pull in the sales rep or sales engineers if an opportunity emerges for upselling or cross-selling. All of these roles are critical in making the customer feel valued. 

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Benefits of Customer Success

Customer Success offers a variety of potential benefits for sales organizations, including:

    • Improved brand perception: By working closely with customers to ensure successful onboarding and product adoption, Customer Success reps help customers have the best experience possible, which maximizes brand perception. This improves your odds that customers will become brand advocates.
    • Churn reduction: Happier, better-adapted customers are less likely to leave your company for another vendor, which significantly reduces costs. One McKinsey study found that leading software as a service (SaaS) vendors with top-quartile revenues attributed their success to the implementation of Customer Success teams to reduce churn. It’s no wonder why: It typically costs five times more to attract a new customer than it costs to keep a customer. 
    • New opportunities for growth: By gaining intimate customer knowledge and insights, Customer Success teams can help identify new opportunities to provide helpful solutions and expand the value of each customer. It’s a strategy that has proved to work well: Research indicates that the probability of closing a sale with an existing customer is 60-70 percent, as opposed to 5-20 percent for a new prospect.
    • Improved customer insights: Working closely with customers over time gives Customer Success reps a unique opportunity to intimately understand their business challenges and opportunities. By tracking these and other key insights, your Customer Success team can help the company improve its product and service offerings, prepare for shifting customer demands, adjust its marketing approach and more.

Getting Started

To reap the benefits of Customer Success, many organizations are opting to outsource this important function so they can focus on core competencies of the sales process. Customer Success is well suited for outsourcing because it is focused on maintaining customer relationships, which can be readily handed off to a team of highly trained professionals. 

Outsourcing can save you time and money compared to building a team in-house. You can start and scale your Customer Success team quickly, because a Sales as a ServiceⓇ partner will have the necessary support infrastructure in place. Finally, outsourcing allows you to benefit from the latest technology to gather analytics, track customer satisfaction, and inform sales about upselling and cross-selling opportunities. 

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