During this time of ongoing change at both macro and micro levels, keeping your Customer Service and Sales teams actively partnered and engaged has become increasingly critical to prevent competitors from poaching incumbent business.
Customer Service teams are an essential part of ensuring a customer’s ongoing success and engagement with your company. There are often many opportunities to ensure that the information exchanged with the customer is available and ready for action by the sales team throughout the deal lifecycle.
A best practice is to move away from being ‘that vendor’ whose sales team suddenly reappears only at renewal time to becoming a trusted partner to the customer’s business. A won deal needs to be thought of more in terms of active, ongoing engagement as opposed to reactive service.
Commercial integration allows enterprises to address insights that could open a customer to a competitor, as well as providing opportunities for expanded offerings and services. Ensuring that customer service teams and sales teams are tightly integrated in terms of technology as well as informal conversation is critical to maintaining meaningful customer relationships, developing new offerings, and securing renewals with a minimum of re-negotiation.
Why would we consider tighter integration of Customer Service and Sales?
- Competition – Competitors keep close to the customer, listening and engaging to understand how to drive both value and value-added differentiation. Then, at the opportune time, the competition network may meet with key influencers and decision makers to position themselves.
- Incremental Revenue –The opportunity to understand the customer’s business more deeply and therefore identify opportunities for adjacent products and services multiplies.
- Renewal – As customer service evolves to being the advocate for the customer inside the organization, they develop a deeper understanding and insight into the customer’s business and can become pro-active in their communication and approach versus being a reactive order taker or inbound helpdesk.
What should we consider developing? Here are a few ideas to catalyze your thinking:
- Integration between sales enablement / sales operations with your customer service operations team to develop tools and data that can streamline insights between the two groups.
- Collaboration between the sales and customer service leadership teams to create open ended questions to understand more about the customers environment, listening carefully for insights to both provide new or adjacent products or services as well as any defensive strategies.
- Communication through both CRM as well as an open forum of informal meet ups of the sales and customer service teams creates a feedback loop of market insights with customer needs and their insights. This in turn drives a loyal relationship that would be hard for a competitor to dislodge.
- Team Growth
- Cross-train the customer service team to understand the indicators and negotiation points.
- Cross train the sales team to understand more about what happens once their deal has closed.
The Customer Service team are often the ones who bring the sales promises to life, executing on the deliverables of a deal. If the customer doesn’t believe your story, then they will most often go to the competition. Therefore, building trust through the integration of all communication points with the customer enhances the relationship and can help organizations defend existing deals and grow further revenues.
Paul Nevelos is a trilingual, internationally experienced leader with comprehensive experience in sales, marketing, operations, and technology. Key capabilities include delivering revenue through an agile organizational structure while training, coaching and leading global sales teams.
Paul previously served as Vice President, Sales Operations at Atlas Oil Company; Director, Training Delivery & Implementation, Americas, at the InterContinental Hotels Group; (IHG) and Director of Client Services, Europe, Middle East, Africa (based in England) for Newmarket International.