Learn to love the one you’re with: Partnering with your service organization to make customers happier

You’ve got only a few minutes before they close the airplane door and make you turn off your phone for takeoff. In fact the steward has already given you “the look.” He knows you are one of those people who pushes until the last second. So which call do you return? The one from your new prospect opportunity that will make your quarter? Or the one from the existing account who isn’t due to renew for two months?

There is a very real time constraint on the sales side of the house. With competing demands for time, sellers in our 2017 World-Class Sales Practices study report that they only invest 18.7% of their time working on post-sale activities. With the exception of key account management roles devoted exclusively to managing existing accounts, most sellers have to manage a fine balancing act between their focus on existing and new customers. And unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for customers to feel neglected post-sale, when their seller’s attention moves to other, newer prospects.

In last week’s blog, I talked about account management and the opportunity that many sales organizations are missing to parlay existing relationships into new business, versus just status quo renewals. But I’d be remiss if I left it as just a sales issue.

Finding internal allies

The answer may lie in the leverage of the service organization. Expanding the concept of account management to include service covers many more defining moments along a customer’s journey and adds more resources to the mix. Yet, as with most things, it is easier said than done. Only slightly more than half (56.6%) of organizations report that their sales and service organizations formally work together or co-exist as part of the same team. The remainder say that the two vital functions work together only informally or not at all. This lack of formal connection has very real consequences. Less than half those surveyed (43%) report that “service and sales work together collaboratively to support the customers’ journey throughout a relationship.” And, less than a third (29.7%) say they do a good job at “sharing best practices between sales and service.” There is a wealth of valuable information that the service function can provide. For example, service has insights into common implementation challenges and solutions. That can help sellers do a better job in advising their clients and be seen as experts.

Developing a common understanding of what the “customer” values

Part of the puzzle is putting sales and service on the same page and part of it is pointing them in the same direction. In addition to a formal way of working together, sales and service need a common perspective on the customer experience. Everyone touching accounts should understand what the relationship goals are and what meets, exceeds or falls short of customer expectations. However, only 18.6% of organizations in our study are collecting the “information needed to understand the experience that we are providing.” Without such information, it becomes a lot harder to tell if you are living up to the promises made in the sales cycle and whether an account is ready for a deeper relationship or may be at risk of churn.

Consider whether you are delivering well enough on your promises to customers:

  • What is your win rate on renewals?
  • How well aligned are your sales and service teams?
  • What data do you collect about the customer’s experience


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