Improve Customer Onboarding with a Better Sales to Customer Success Handoff

Effective customer onboarding is essential for long-term customer success and starts with a smooth handoff from sales to the customer success manager (CSM). It sets the tone for the relationship, influences time to ROI, and impacts trust.

When the handoff between sales and customer success is properly implemented, the customer’s experience is consistent and effortless. The new client feels valued and understood from the start, and sees the benefits of your product or service almost from the start.
Internal communication is necessary for an efficient handoff from sales to customer success.

Going beyond verbal communication, this process all starts with documentation and coordination. It also requires some internal education to inspire proper participation.
Before we look at how to improve your sales to customer success handoffs let’s look at how customer onboarding impacts the customer’s relationship with your company on the long term.

Why is Customer Onboarding So Important?

There are a few reasons that customer onboarding is a pivotal time in the relationship between you and your customer. These include:

Setting the tone

It’s important that the customer success manager (CSM) start off on the right foot. If the CSM doesn’t have much background information, their first interactions with the new account will likely feel like an interrogation. The account manager will ask questions the customer has already answered during the sales process. This makes the company and the CSM look disorganized and frustrates the customer by having to repeat themselves.

By contrast, if the handoff between sales and customer success is efficient, all information captured by sales will be shared with the CSM ahead of their first engagement with the new customer. This enables the CSM to prepare more effectively for their first meeting and makes the customer feel good about their decision to buy your product or service.

Impacting time to value

When a CSM is uninformed at their first engagement with a new customer, not only is it frustrating, it takes longer for the customer to start to receive value from your product or service. That’s because the account manager has that much more to learn about the customer’s needs, concerns, goals, and how they want to work with your company.

Being well-informed prior to the first meeting with the customer means that the CSM can prepare a preliminary account plan early on and start working toward attaining some quick wins for the customer. When this happens, the customer starts to see value almost immediately and feels good about their decision to do business with your company.

Building a foundation

A CSM that’s well informed from the start, doesn’t ask the customer unnecessary questions, and is able to deliver value to the customer from the start. This boosts the customer’s confidence and helps to build a foundation of trust from the onset of the relationship. This is essential to customer retention and satisfaction. Otherwise, the customer loses their patience, enthusiasm, and confidence in your solution and its ability to fulfill their needs or meet their goals.

How to Improve the Sales-to-Customer Success Handoff

There’s no doubt that it’s critical to provide an excellent customer onboarding experience. Solving this isn’t complicated, it simply takes preparation, organization, and communication.

Prepare sales

Sales reps may very well be asking for the same information that CSMs want, but to be sure you should tell them what to ask. Then they need to understand why they should continue the conversation with the customer after the deal is closed.

Providing the sales reps with essential information to gather throughout the sales process and prior to handoff has many benefits to the sales department as well as customer success. Taking the time to learn why the customer is buying and what they want to achieve with your product, for example, can have a huge impact on the relationship and sets the account up for success.

As we discussed above, CSMs armed with essential information ahead of their first engagement with a new customer help the customer see value sooner, start off on the right foot and develop a stronger relationship. This benefits the sales department by building advocates, referral sources, and case study subjects.

Facilitate documentation

Once sales understand what they need to ask, when to ask it, and why it's important, they need a place to document these valuable insights. Setting up designated fields in your CRM for this information makes it easy for sales to record it while documenting sales process information. Then, when they close the deal, the information will automatically sync with a customer success platform such as Kapta.

Kapta enables CSMs to review all the information gathered by sales, so they are well-informed prior to their first meeting with the customer. It allows account managers to prepare a preliminary account plan for the customer even before they ask them any questions. This starts them off on the right foot and enables them to quickly start showing the customer value, creating a firm foundation for a long-term trusting relationship.

Have a handoff conversation

Don’t rely solely on the notes in your CRM that sync with Kapta. Take it a step further by having sales and customer success meet to discuss the account prior to the first meeting. This allows sales to fill in the blanks and provides additional context to the documented information so CSMs have a more complete picture of the customer’s needs, challenges, goals, and manner of working.

Prepare for an Excellent Onboarding Experience

An excellent customer onboarding experience is essential for long-term customer success. It sets the tone for the customer’s experience, impacts time to value, and can build a foundation of trust.

The handoff from sales to customer success greatly influences the customer’s onboarding experience. Taking the time to prepare sales to ask the right questions and explaining why can motivate sales reps to do so.

Then make it easy for them to document their findings and have a sales and customer success conversation ahead of each handoff for additional clarity. Taking these steps improves customer retention and growth.

Interested in gaining additional insights to improve CSMs’ ability to succeed with customers? Register for KAMCon by February 28th to take advantage of the early bird rate.

Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta