The relationship between Sales and Customer Success often comes to a head during the handoff of a recently acquired customer. Account Executives (AEs) want the customers they sign up to be successful, but they don’t necessarily have visibility into the work Customer Success does post-sale. As a result, it’s easy for them to omit details during this transition that a CSM would consider crucial. AEs need to weave Sales into the larger customer experience, which Customer Success follows through on. But how? Enter the Sales to Customer Success knowledge transfer process.
Customer Success teams need to provide Sales teams with a knowledge transfer framework that captures the knowledge an Account Executive gathered during the buying process.
After all, getting someone to sign up for your product is only the beginning.
The Account Executive has spent weeks or months digging into the needs of this customer and building an argument for why your product is the best solution. But the CSM is starting from square one. Especially if your Customer Success team is inheriting relationships that Sales had previously managed. Which means that the initial conversation between the two teams might look to an outsider like a game of 20 questions. The Sales to Customer Success knowledge transfer questions below draw heavily from my experience over the years- some topics have lead to unexpected insights, while others can help identify hidden red-flags. Similar to the way you customize your onboarding experience to fit the nuances of your product and your customer’s goals, you should also tailor these questions to capture information that’s key to your business.
When a company is still in the early stages of growth this information is usually shared anecdotally over a cup of coffee. However, as companies grow it makes sense to document these insights to ensure nothing is lost or forgotten. If you’re looking for an easy to download copy of these questions, scroll to the end of this post.
Basic customer info
- What vertical does this customer operate in and how do they monetize?
- Do they have relationships with other affiliates or divisions that you (Sales) are currently pursuing a deal with? If you’re hoping to leverage this agreement to open up cross-sell or expansion opportunities, how can I (the CSM) influence these goals? How will you keep me up to date on any broader negotiations that could impact this customer?
- Is there anything unique about this agreement?
- Quick summary of contract terms: Is there a trial period? If so, what happens after the trial period ends? Are there custom terms of service or a SLA? Are the number of seats or product usage restricted? Does this agreement fall under a MSA for a larger corporate entity?
- What pricing plan are they on?
- Are there any loose ends around payment?
- What was the customer’s motivation for buying our product? Will our product be replacing an existing solution?
- How will they be evaluating the success of our product?
- Have any usage goals or expectations been shared?
- Has the customer expressed expectations around a formal review schedule (quarterly, yearly)?
- Who is the decision maker? Did you work with anyone else to get this deal signed?
- Do you know who my point of contact will be and what their role is?
- Were there tense or negative moments during the buying process? If so, who was involved and what were the circumstances?
- Is there an expected “go live” date?
- Was an onboarding/ training schedule or format discussed?
- Does the customer have an idea of how our product will fit into their existing workflows?
- Did the customer like any particular features or mention that they found certain features less appealing?
- How many people are expected to use our product?
- Which of the customer’s teams are supposed to receive logins?
- Did the customer purchase any additional professional services? If so, is there a completed work order or invoice?
- Has the customer already expressed a need for new functionality? Did you future sell any unreleased functionality?
- Did we commit to anything that has not been discussed so far?
A seamless handoff process continues to build on the foundation of trust the AE established during the buying process, and this all starts with the Sales to Customer Success knowledge transfer. Having a solid launch process in place is a key indicator of future success for your customer- it ensures the customer can quickly start capturing value from your product and achieving their goals.
Sample Sales to Customer Success knowledge transfer framework