3 Steps To Effective Sales and Customer Success Alignment

A solid relationship between CS and sales is not only good for the customer, it's good for revenue.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 1, 2024

While once thought of as disparate departments, sales operations, and customer success teams need to work together more than ever before. Align these two teams, and you’ll be able to revitalize your marketing efforts, boost your revenue, and secure your company's success. 

In this article, we’ll be plotting the three steps towards sales and customer success alignment, helping your business synergize across these teams.

In the modern age with instant reviewing, social proof, and the instant availability of data, ensuring positive customer experiences has never been so important. It’s reported that 86% of customers will pay more for positive experiences with a new company. From the initial contact right through to the ongoing delivery of your services, success comes down to satisfying customers.

We’ll be exploring these two teams and their various functions, then demonstrating exactly how they can come together in an efficient handover process.

Let’s get right into it.

In this article:

  1. What does the sales team do?
  2. What does the customer success team do?
  3. What are the main differences between sales and customer success?
  4. How do you align your sales and customer success teams?
  5. Final Thoughts on Sales and Customer Alignment

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<span class="h-circle">1</span>What does the sales team do?

The primary function of the sales team is acquiring new leads, building relationships with customers, and securing continual company growth. Their focus is on conversion, the sales process aiming to generate even more customers for the business.

They are often the very first point of contact with a new client, meaning that their opening interaction is essential. Sales reps are typically active, explaining the benefits of a business’ technology and enticing a subscription by demonstrating exactly how this new software can benefit the client. 


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<span class="h-circle">2</span>What does the customer success team do?

On the other hand, the customer success team is less about finding new customers and more about accommodating to existing customers. Their main objective is to foster a healthy and continuous relationship with their customer base.

Through supporting an existing customer, sharing knowledge with them, and walking them through any processes that may not be clear, they act as the problem-solving force of your company. 


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<span class="h-circle">3</span>What are the main differences between sales and customer success?

While the customer success team and sales professionals both work for the same company, their primary functions, roles, and targets differ incredibly.

There are three main differences between these two teams:

  • Targets
  • Important Metrics
  • When They Become Involved

Let’s break these down even further.


Both sales and customer success have a series of targets that they work towards. Achieving these targets demonstrates that the team is on the right track and makes sure they're focused on the right objectives.

The main target for the sales team is to find and convert new customers. This team is doing a good job when a large number of new leads are converting to paying customers. 

[[They are the first point of contact with a new customer and aim to create that very first deal, whether it be committing directly a subscription, or even just moving from a free trial to the subscription.]]

The customer success team will focus on then nurturing these new paying customers. Their role is to support these new customers, creating a positive partnership and a joyful customer experience. Due to this, ideas like retention rate and combating the potential churn issue of customers that don’t understand the software will be their prior focus. 

While the sales team is focused on conversion, customer success is focused on effective solutions and support for current customers. 


Important Metrics

While targets are often written in qualitative terms, how you actually measure a goal is commonly explained by quantitative statistics. Due to this, sales roles and the CSM team use a range of different metrics to quantify how they’re progressing and monitor if they’re on track to reach their goals.

Take a look at the following metrics commonly used by these two teams:

  • Sales - Cost of Acquisition (CAC) and Return on Investment (ROI) are vital, with the sales role focusing on minimizing and maximizing these figures, respectively. 
  • Customer Success - Minimizing customer churn and monitoring live customer health is vital here. This team has the ultimate goal of supporting customers to boost the retention process. 

These two teams use different metrics to qualify their progress, and can therefore sometimes cross wires when it comes to establishing the company’s best interest. 

When They Become Involved

Marketing and sales teams are always engaged as the first step of the process. They will target customers based on their user segment, finding customers interested in the technology and then reaching out to them to secure a deal.

Meanwhile, the typical customer success manager will oversee the process of creating and finding solutions for customers that have already subscribed to the software. Due to this, they’ll only come into contact with customers after the sales team has already dealt with them. It’s their job to step in and solve any problems that may occur.

This mismatch in time periods can cause a problem, especially if the account history of a client isn’t made available by sales for the customer success team.

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<span class="h-circle">4</span>How do you align your sales and customer success teams?

As we can see, these two teams have different functions and even distinct methods of operation. But, that said, this doesn’t mean that the teams should work separately. In fact, by aligning the sales and customer success teams, you’ll be able to make your customers’ experience much more straightforward, ensuring that they stay interested in your product and increasing your business’ revenue. 

To optimize the balance between these two teams and guarantee a smooth customer experience, there are three simple steps that your business can implement. 

These are:

  1. Align expectations
  2. Establish an efficient customer handover process
  3. Schedule frequent meetings to create a smooth feedback loop 

Let’s explore these in more detail. 

Align Expectations

At the end of the day, both sales and customer success want to create recurring revenue for their business, making more money for their business and bringing value to the company. This cannot be achieved if these two teams aren’t on the same page. 

Communication between these teams before the sales process even begins will allow sales to understand exactly what they can offer to customers. Customer success will be able to notify sales about any changes to the product, ensuring that both teams know precisely what's on the table. 

In return, sales can make recommendations to customer success about certain up and cross-sell opportunities that they could launch.

At no point in the various pre-sales processes should a sales rep offer something that the software cannot deliver on. A sales success story is not one that makes false promises about the products they can offer. 

Not only is this a bad business practice, but it also makes the job of customer success managers much harder when they have to make excuses for a missing promise or feature.

When these teams know exactly what they can offer and what the product itself can deliver, they’ll be able to find balance and provide real value to the customer. 

Customer Handover Process

Considering that the customer success team interacts with customers after sales has already engaged with them, the customer is often rearing to go, wanting to get started with the software. If the customer success team then begins to ask the customer questions that they already answered to sales, the customer may become frustrated.

To avoid frustrating newly-won customers, there needs to be a process in place that allows customer success to directly communicate with sales, sales providing a host of supporting data that they can pass on. Key metrics, client data, and anything else that will give the customer success team a detailed understanding of the new customer is vital.

That’s why we recommend creating a place for shared notes between customer success and sales. This might be your CRM or meeting management software where you’ll be able to create a channel between these two teams, Sales making notes as they interact with the customer which can then be directly forwarded to customer success.

Depending on the complexity of the deal, a quick meeting to go over key details may be in order. When this customer handover process is followed, the customer success team is instantly able to jump into helping the new client use the product. 

No questions, no hassle, just efficient customer communication.

Constructing a feedback loop

Companies that have efficient forms of communication available to them are able to update their teams with ease, ensuring that everyone is on the same page at all times. Either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, your business should arrange a short meeting between members of these two teams.

Not sure how to run a team meeting? Check out our complete guide to team meetings which details a whole host of agenda sales.

In this call, you’ll be able to go over any changes you’d like to make, either to the sales process, the customer handover process, or to the solutions that either one of the teams is offering. By providing a healthy space in which these two teams can communicate, you’re able to foster a more productive organization. 

If there are any past actions from either team which need changing, this is the designated space to voice concerns. By using a smart note-taking software like Hugo, you’ll be able to create a shared space for these notes - ensuring that both teams always have access to any conclusions drawn by the meetings.

You'll also want to make sure you're ready to make the best use of any customer meetings you have, especially if your calendar is booked full of them.

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<span class="h-circle">5</span>Final Thoughts on Sales and Customer Alignment

Once aligned, the benefits of these two teams working in harmony are bountiful. Working closely together, these two departments will be able to create a business strategy that drives the company’s growth forward. When on the same page, their cohesion ensures that your company will be on the very best path towards success.

In a word, the key to aligning sales and customer success teams is efficient communication. Open channels of communication across these two teams will allow you to provide the very best services, increase your value in the eyes of the customer, and reduce your company's churn over time. 

If you’re a new business looking to boost your revenue, then ensuring your sales and customer success teams are aligned is one of the very best paths you can take. Get started today by setting up your first meeting with Hugo - your business won’t regret it.


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