Tension in the relationship between sales and customer experience is a tale as old as time.
Customers have problems they want solved. It’s the responsibility of salespeople to uncover the root causes of those problems and propose solutions for how they can be fixed (or at least alleviated to a level that justifies the investment they’re making).
Cool! Not so complicated, right? Here’s the thing about selling a product… Once a customer signs the contract, it’s time to make good on what was sold.
What can go wrong? Misunderstandings related to the functionality or value proposition of the product/service. Misaligned expectations tied to the support or onboarding that the customer will experience. Redundancies in the handoff process stemming from internal breakdowns in communication.
The list can be long.
The point is there is a lot that can go awry when bringing on a new customer, but the responsibility of a positive, efficient and effective onboarding experience is shared cross-functionally. As a salesperson, it doesn’t end when a contract is signed.
So… what can you do to ensure a positive experience and build stronger relationships with your colleagues and customers?
SET PROPER EXPECTATIONS — Set them early and often (👀 Amy Volas). Expectation setting starts with being intimately aligned with your customer as it relates to how they will benefit (business impact, functionality of your product, support they will receive, etc.) from the partnership. The value that your customer can/will realize is not something that should be spoken about once in a demo, and then once more in an email recap before getting tossed into your CRM notes. Continual reinforcement of the value that your company is providing relative to the specific needs of that customer is incredibly important to reinforce (and reset as needed) throughout the entirety of their buying journey.
OVER COMMUNICATE — Internally and externally. As mentioned above, it is vital to be well aligned with your customer on what specific outcomes they might expect when leveraging your product. BUT, If you are not on the same page with your own team as it relates to their confidence and ability to meet those expectations, you’re likely in for a world of hurt. If you want to build trust, try providing proper context about what spurred the customer to make this change and adopt your solution. Give tips and recommendations on the customer’s preferred method of communication. Talk about potential landmines or other stakeholders that might influence the effectiveness of onboarding. Communicating with your internal team has compounding effects.
EMPATHIZE – Sales is extremely difficult. Constantly shifting priorities, pressure upon pressure to perform, constantly tweaking your approach. Guess what? Every customer-facing role is difficult for their own reasons. As a salesperson, you should have a ton of respect, appreciation and gratitude for the work that is done by your colleagues in support, implementation, experience, etc. Unsure how to better understand their role(s)? Keep reading…
SHOW UP! Is something going wrong during onboarding? Avoid the radio silence or “let me know if there’s anything I can do…” approach. Instead, ask specifically what you can do to help/support. Hop on calls, shadow meetings, chime in on additional context that might have been missed, and go the extra mile to make things right.
Remember… Customers don’t care whose job description at your company says what, or how your incentive structures are aligned. They care about solving their problems with the least amount of friction and time invested as humanly possible.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this… We are all human. Take the time to build relationships with your cross-functional counterparts. Assume positive intent, ask questions, listen, learn, and work to better understand the challenges they face daily.
You’ll likely find yourself adjusting your own behavior once you understand what implications your decisions have on their role. Just my two cents.
By Ryan Brown, Thursday Night Sales
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