Sales and customer service teams should go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like surfboards and waves. Like cute puppies and Instagram Stories.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens. These departments often work in silos, which not only pits sales teams and support teams against each other but harms the customer experience.
It’s a serious problem—one that your company needs to address ASAP. The question is, how? Is it possible to get sales and support reps on the same page to create successful customer outcomes? You bet it is!
In this article, we’ll share six tips to help you align sales and customer service teams to ensure customer satisfaction at every touchpoint in the buyer journey. But first…
Why is sales and customer service alignment important?
Before we talk about how to align sales and customer service teams, let’s talk about why you should. It all comes down to detailed data, loyal customers, and greater revenue.
Your business runs on data. How do we know this? Because every business runs on data.
If your sales team doesn’t know who your customers are and what they want, they won’t close many deals. And if your support team doesn’t have this information, they won’t be able to encourage positive customer interactions that drive company growth.
Fortunately, alignment between these two departments can help.
Customer support teams can teach salespeople about the complaints and pain points their target audiences have. And sales teams can keep support reps in the loop regarding pricing information, competitor offerings, etc., which increases customer trust. Speaking of which…
Salespeople love getting new customers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but doing so should never come at the expense of existing customers. Why? It’s simple: money.
Higher customer retention rates can boost revenue by 25% to 95%, per Bain & Company.
One of the best ways to increase retention is to provide a consistent customer experience. When sales reps make promises that their company’s support team can actually deliver on, customers will learn to trust your brand. This trust will lead to longer-lasting relationships.
If there’s one thing your sales and customer services teams should agree on, it’s this: your company needs to drive revenue. As stated above, loyal customers are a potential gold mine.
Earn their trust, and they’ll patronize your business for a long time. Break it, and they’ll drop your brand like Daniel LaRusso’s crane kick dropped Johnny Lawrence to the mat.
Trust can benefit company revenue in other ways, too. Your sales reps will have more success when upselling and cross-selling customers, for example, if said customers trust your business. By keeping churn low, sales reps will close more deals in their sales pipelines.
6 ways to better align your sales and customer service teams
As we’ve just seen, aligning your company’s sales and customer service teams is pretty important. These six tips will help you get both departments on the same page:
1. Know your customers
Who is your company’s ideal customer?
Your sales and customer service teams should have an identical idea of who this person/company is. To ensure this is the case, I suggest creating buyer personas together.
(Note: If you really want to prevent misalignment, get your marketing team involved, too.)
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer(s) and created buyer personas, map the customer journey. What touchpoints do prospects need to hit to become paying customers? What’s your onboarding process like? What questions do support reps need to be prepared to answer?
If you can answer these questions—and others like them—you’ll be able to build deep customer relationships that supercharge your business.
Maybe you’re thinking, “This all sounds great. But how do I actually learn about my target audience?” Don’t worry, it’s not that hard—just talk to them.
Engage with your followers on social media sites like LinkedIn. Ask your email list for customer feedback. Study your competitors and the people they serve. Then store all this information in your CRM of choice and use it to create authentic personas for your brand.
2. Decide on similar goals
What goals is your sales team trying to achieve? Maybe it wants to ramp up customer acquisition. Or improve individual reps’ close rates. Or identify new upsell opportunities. Maybe your sales team wants to streamline its sales process and boost efficiency.
What is your customer service team shooting for? Reducing customer wait time, finding ways to better track product usage, and improving net promoter scores are all worthy goals.
Here’s what we suggest: collaborate on the goals your sales and customer service team set. If each department’s underlying objectives don’t align, you won’t meet customer expectations.
No, this doesn’t mean that sales and customer service should track the same metrics and KPIs. That wouldn’t make sense. But it does mean the goals of each department should work toward the same overarching aim—namely, a better customer experience.
When this kind of alignment happens, company success is well within reach.
3. Use the same technology
Let’s talk about your company’s tech stack.
Your sales team uses a collection of apps to connect with potential customers and close deals. Your customer service team uses various tools, too, to speak with paying customers and meet their needs. At least some of these tools should be the same.
This is especially true when it comes to CRM software. Both departments need it. Using different platforms will only waste company funds and create unnecessary problems.
The question is, which CRM is best for your organization? We can’t answer that question for you. But we can give you a few tips when shopping for a top-level solution:
- Decide Which Features You Need: Have your sales and customer success managers get together and decide which features your CRM should have. Sales will probably want automation tools to send follow-up emails on autopilot. Customer support will probably want real-time analytics of support queries. Both departments will want to ensure the CRM they use integrates with other tools.
- Read Reviews on Preferred Platforms: Once you’ve identified the features you need, investigate the platforms that have them. What do past and current customers say about these tools? Are there specific things they like/hate about them? If you see similar complaints on sites like G2 and Capterra, you should take them seriously.
- Stick Within a Predefined Budget: Finally, find a CRM solution that fits your budget. Some tools are super powerful but cost a small fortune to use. If you don’t have the cash to pay for one of these platforms, scratch it from your list and look elsewhere.
Note: While sales and customer support teams serve the same people, they have different jobs. So, you might not be able to find a single CRM that satisfies both departments.
In that case, find tools that integrate with each other.
For example, your sales team might love using a sales-focused CRM because it helps them shorten sales cycles and close deals, while being extremely easy to use. Your service team might prefer an app like Zendesk or Help Scout, which was specifically created for their needs.
Guess what: you can connect these tools to create a custom tech stack for your company!
4. Host cross-department meetings
The only way to align sales and customer service teams is to periodically get people from both departments into the same room at the same time—even if the said room is virtual.
This will allow team members to build better relationships, communicate more freely, and understand how their work impacts their colleagues in adjacent departments. It will also make it easier to collaborate on goals and track your company’s progress toward them.
Lastly, cross-department meetings allow you to iron out important details.
Your customer service team needs to know if/when your sales team offers an exclusive discount to a specific client, for example. That way, they can handle any follow-up communications appropriately–and avoid ticking off customers.
5. Review the onboarding process together
Your sales department just closed another deal—woohoo!
Before you break out the champagne and throw a party, ensure your sales and customer service teams work together to create an effective onboarding process for this new buyer.
The handoff should be seamless. The procedure should be simple and straightforward. And new customers should always know who to contact if/when they have questions.
We suggest pooling departmental knowledge, too, so the onboarding process answers typical questions before new customers actually have them. This will dramatically reduce customer service team requests.
6. Train sales reps in customer service and vice versa
If you want your sales and customer service teams to work together, consider teaching them about each other’s processes. How does sales close deals? How does support field queries?
This level of training will give individual sales and customer service reps a better understanding of the customer journey, which will help them better meet customer needs.
Before you tell us that you don’t have the time or resources for this training, realize this doesn’t have to be a formal process. What if you paired sales and support reps together, then asked them to sit in on each other’s processes once a month? Simple, right?
We’re not suggesting turning sales reps into customer support employees or vice versa. But by giving them a deeper understanding of each other’s processes and goals, the departments will naturally become more aligned, which will benefit your brand.
Build a stronger business with alignment
At the end of the day, aligning sales and support teams are both focused on customer success.
When these two departments are on the same page, the customer wins. And when the customer wins, your company wins. To ensure this happens, follow the tips above.
Once your sales and customer service teams pick goals together, use the same or integrated technology tools, and host cross-department meetings, good things will happen!
Jacob Thomas is a SaaS writer for Close.com, a sales-focused CRM designed for growing teams.