When it comes to increasing revenue, most organizations look first to their sales team to drive new business and overlook the revenue-boosting potential that comes from aligning the sales and customer service departments.
Fully satisfied customers are more likely to increase their spend and refer their friends and colleagues. Therefore, organizations that align sales and customer service benefit from delighted customers, increased revenue, repeat business and additional referrals. In addition, a sales team that embodies a customer focus will both increase the number and profitability of its deals and set up customers for strategic, long-term relationships with the organization.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Bring Your Stakeholders on Board
Any successful initiative starts with commitment from key stakeholders. Begin by seeking commitment from the sales and customer service leadership teams to building alignment. You may even consider establishing a sales and customer service alignment team that includes decision-makers from both departments. Then, conduct regular meetings to open lines of communication and move the alignment process forward.
2. Understand Your Customer’s Journey
Many sales teams think of the customer journey as beginning with interest or awareness and ending with a purchase, but for the customer, the journey doesn’t end there. For the customer, the purchase is just the beginning.
Take time to work with your customer service team to document and understand what happens for your customers after they make the purchase. Ask questions such as:
- How do customers use the product after they’ve purchased it?
- What are the criteria for success, and how often are those criteria met?
- What are the most common obstacles customers face during implementation?
- What are the most common complaints customers make?
- What additional products or services would be logical to upsell or cross-sell?
Document the complete customer journey, and look for opportunities to close gaps and create a more seamless transition from sales to customer service.
3. Define the Customer Promise and Key Messaging
Unfortunately, many sales teams make promises that customer service reps can’t deliver. Take the time to clearly define what your organization promises to customers and to develop key messaging around that promise. Communicate this promise and messaging clearly to all teams so that everyone is operating from the same foundation.
Hold salespeople accountable for the correct promise messaging and customer service representatives for fulfilling the promises. It can be beneficial to develop service level agreements (SLAs) between sales and customer service teams to establish and reinforce the customer promise and each team’s responsibility to it.
4. Make Customer Service Reps an Extension of the Sales Team
Your customer service team should be focused first and foremost on taking care of the customer. However, in the course of serving clients, they will be exposed to many opportunities to increase revenue for your organization while providing value to the customer.
Identify opportunities for your customer service team to cross-sell and upsell your products and services while they’re assisting customers. Provide training that helps them to:
- See customer problems as opportunities to guide them to solutions that might involve additional purchases.
- Offer relevant additional offerings at logical points in customer conversations.
- Understand when and how to ask for referrals that they can pass to the sales team.
5. Make the Sales Team an Extension of Customer Service
Your sales team is the front line with prospects, and how they treat customers directly impacts not only the sale but also your company’s reputation. By keeping a customer focus, your salespeople increase the likelihood that prospects will want to do business with you.
Train your sales team on a consultative, buyer-focused sales process that enables them to uncover a prospect’s desires and needs and then to deliver a solution that provides the most value. Salespeople who take this approach build trust and rapport with buyers and achieve win-win outcomes.
6. Maintain Lines of Communication
Your sales and customer service teams should be communicating on a regular and consistent basis. Hold both sales and customer service reps accountable for sharing problems and challenges with each other, as well as knowledge and insights. Encourage team problem-solving, and reward collaborative behavior. When problem-solving is a team effort, everyone wins.
7. Invest in Training for Your Customer Service Team
In research published by the Harvard Business Review, customers with the best previous customer experiences spent 140% more than customers with the most negative past experiences. Unfortunately, the majority of customer service departments lack the skills necessary to influence customers’ future buying decisions positively. Training your customer service team can give your reps the skills the need to delight customers, grow customer loyalty and differentiate your company from the competition with world-class customer service.
Train your customer service team to align with sales, and open the door for unrivaled customer satisfaction, additional client referrals and future revenue opportunities.