The irony of the digital age in customer service and sales is not lost on most marketers:

Sure, brands can gain mass followers overnight, but let’s not forget that just one poor customer experience (CX) can lose you those same followers as well. In fact, according to a PwC report, one in three customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Sure, brands can easily communicate with customers, but bombarding them with endless information and product ads can annoy those same customers.

Sure, brands can drive killer marketing campaigns, but customer expectations are at an all-time high, with users expecting companies to preempt their needs and offer helpful, personalized, and relevant suggestions.

In such a scenario, weathering the CX storm should not be one particular team or a specific manager’s responsibility. Your sales and customer support teams need to work in circles, feed off of each other, and take each other’s collaborative help to deliver a stellar customer experience. In this blog, we will deep-dive to understand how your teams can work in conjunction and drive powerful results at every step of the customer journey. Let’s jump right in.

6 Proven Ways To Strengthen Your Sales And Customer Support Relationship

1. Identify your customer’s needs and align all efforts accordingly
2. Provide real-time support that can fuel sales
3. Use customer support to upsell/cross-sell
4. Invest efforts in social selling
5. Encourage the customer support team to share user data with the sales team
6. Keep customer success and sales efforts aligned

Now, let’s go into detail!

1. Identify your customer’s needs and align all efforts accordingly

Considering that both your customer service and sales team are overly customer-facing, they should work in cohesion, but unfortunately, not many organizations follow this strategy. At the end of the day, both the teams’ end-goal is to make the customers happy. So, where can you begin?

Well, your CX team can go back to the drawing board and revisit the customer interactions to see whether or not they can unearth valuable insights into customer needs, concerns, motivations, pain-points, etc. It also helps if your reps are trained to be more alert and empathetic to the user’s needs. The idea is to literally read between the lines and use real-time user data to give customers exactly what they want. More importantly, CX teams don’t always need to don a ‘serious’ hat; they can dial up the fun quotient, as shown below. In a refreshing change, here’s an excellent example of a thoughtful CX response by JetBlue:
Example of a thoughtful CX response by JetBlue
(Source)

In stark contrast, here’s an example of customer service gone wrong, owing to standardized responses without any logic or context:

Example of wrong customer service
(Source)

On the other end of the spectrum, the sales team can make use of this data and demonstrate to customers how the product/service can address their issues. The following sales pitch example is short, and it works swimmingly as it addresses the customer’s key pain point – help parents take better pics:

(Source)

As long as the pitch is relevant to your ideal target audience, it will strike a chord. This can, ultimately, aid in driving long-term, meaningful customer relationships as they feel that the brand truly understands what they want and will feel appreciated in the process.

In summary, every successful customer relationship starts and ends with the customer support team instead of starting with the sales team and ending with the customer support team. Your CX team is the one that can add meaningful data and value to the interactions and personalize the process, whereas the sales team can build the foundation for a winning customer relationship. Once the sales team has roped in the customers and got them hooked, the responsibility again falls back on the CX team to take the customer relationship to the finishing line by providing proactive support.

2. Provide real-time support that can fuel sales

“Customer service is the new sales engine.” – Micah Solomon

Picking up on where we left in the previous point, nurturing your customers in between the starting and ending stages of their customer journey is paramount. This is where live chat software truly shines. It allows teams to connect with customers instantly and effectively:


(Source)

Plus, using the live chat software, teams can capture vital user data such as conversation notes, ticket history, etc., and integrate it into the CRM. This ensures that everyone’s always on the same page with respect to the customer’s expectations and goals in real-time. Important updates and notifications don’t go missing with the live chat software as customer reps can quickly get in touch with customers and relay important information. As you can imagine, this can greatly enhance the overall experience and give it a positive overtone.

3. Use customer support to upsell/cross-sell

There’s no doubt that it’s much easier to upsell or cross-sell to existing customers than to new customers as you already have a strong connection with the former. More importantly, first-time customers might just be beginning to know the brand and might not be comfortable experimenting with too many products/services – all at once.

This is where your customer support team can lend a helping hand. Since they’re already in touch with the existing users, they can proactively reach out to them and throw light on additional features and benefits that the customers can leverage from a product/service that they’re already using.

That said, it is recommended that you don’t upsell if your customers are dissatisfied and too unhappy with the brand in the first place. This might be due to a variety of reasons, such as no added value for the customer in the product/service, untimely query resolution, etc. In such cases, your priority needs to be on boosting user satisfaction, not boosting your company’s profit margins.

4. Invest efforts in social selling

Ask any seasoned salesperson, and they’ll tell you that the cold-calling technique is reminiscent of a bygone era. Most sales marketers are actively engaging in what we call ‘social selling’ today. This effective technique leverages a sales person’s personal network across social media channels to help:

  • Foster meaningful relationships with new prospects as well as existing customers.
  • Segment and target specific prospects on diverse social media platforms.
  • Build a trusted relationship with customers and boost sales.
  • Nurture sales prospects organically and sustainably.
  • Demonstrate thought leadership, expertise, credibility, and authority with respect to industry insights, product/service offering, etc.
  • Build a better rapport with the prospects and engage in an effective lead generation process.

Here’s an interesting example of social selling on LinkedIn Messaging for your reference. As long as the conversation is casual and informative, the social selling will work wonders:

Example of social selling on LinkedIn Messaging for your reference
(Source)

All in all, social selling is an effective way to drive long-term relationships with prospects and existing customers across social media platforms with greater trust and credibility to the sales’ marketer’s benefits.

Did you know that a staggering 78% of salespeople who actively engage in social selling tend to outsell their peers who don’t? Additionally, around 10% of reps tend to close 5 or more deals as a result of being active on social media.

5. Encourage the customer support team to share user data with the sales team

The importance of collating and analyzing user data cannot be emphasized enough. This is where the CX team can play its part. Since customer support representatives end up spending all of their time with the customers–addressing their issues, looking into their pain-points, understanding and resolving their concerns, etc., they hold unique customer-related insights that can be super-useful for the sales team. Here are some useful tips on how this strategy can help your sales team:

  • Your CX representative can pass on their customer-related tickets, notes, and scripts to the sales team so that the latter can upsell/cross-sell products/services accordingly.
  • The customer support team can use data extracted from tools powered by automation to anticipate, identify, and respond to the genuine needs of the customer.
  • The CX team can provide feedback on emerging trends, customer issues, missed expectations, etc., so that the sales team can enhance their sales process and integrate value-adds that the customer will genuinely find interest in.
  • The customer support team can analyze all the data accumulated and single out and target loyal customers and brainstorm with the other teams to help convert the users into self-confessed brand loyalists.
  • The CX team can share more instances of customer’s successes and ‘wins’, which the sales team can use as ‘testimonials’ to further gain the customer’s trust in the brand. An excellent example of this is the brand Zappos which advertises recordings of customer support calls as a ‘sales pitch’ to reel customers in. This kind of advertisement drives increased transparency between the customer and the brand, acting as a win-win for all:

In essence, maintaining proper and real-time documentation between both teams ensures increased visibility into what makes your customers tick and what can potentially drive them away.

6. Keep customer success and sales efforts aligned

One fatal mistake that most organizations end up making is that they end up ignoring existing customers. This small move can hurt your organization’s bottom line. While it is important to keep expanding the business and gain new leads, organizations shouldn’t turn their backs on the existing loyal user base.
That said, since the sales team is already laser-focused on getting new leads, the CX team should pivot their focus to existing customers and funnel the latter to the sales team. Luckily, there are numerous ways to do this, such as:

  • Providing proactive customer support
  • Driving customer satisfaction through relevant, customized, and timely service
  • Analyzing the customer’s unmet needs (through the various conversations) and offering ideas to the product development team about innovating new products
  • Focusing on driving mutual understanding, trust, and respect between customers and the organization
  • Ensuring streamlined communication with customers and the sales team

In turn, the sales team too can offer help in building a rock-solid customer relationship by:

  • Acting as another customer-facing touchpoint and engaging with customers without any hidden agenda
  • Checking-in with the customer support team at regular intervals to identify opportunities to up-sell or simply gain insights into how the sales team can improve the sales process
  • Driving an emotional connect with the user by genuinely reaching out to users and following up on how their customer experience has been so far
  • Communicating any friction or problems that the sales rep experiences in the sales process to the customer service team so that both the teams are aligned in terms of the customer expectations and requirements.
  • Initiating a crystal-clear and accurate hand-off both before and after the sales process.

Wrapping Up

Speed, convenience, helpful employees, and friendly service are the most sought-after indicators in the eyes of 70% of customers, according to a PwC report. All these attributes can be achieved if both the teams work together in seamless cohesion.

If you think your sales and customer support teams will work better independently, think again. While these two teams are accountable for handling customers at different parts of the customer’s lifecycle with a brand, they need to constantly work together and drive a convenience-driven and seamless user experience.

Where your sales team helps in introducing the new offerings, your CX team can help in addressing any customer issues and pain-points related to those offerings.
Where your sales team drives creative and interesting marketing campaigns related to the product/service, your CX team can add value to those campaigns by gathering real-time customer data and personalizing the marketing campaign from start to finish.

Where your sales team works round-the-clock to gather new leads, your CX team can walk the extra mile to retain those customers and keep them happy.

To wrap up, here are the top-6 strategies to keep in mind if you wish to drive a more collaborative (and productive) working style among your sales and CX teams:

  1. Identify customer’s needs and align all efforts accordingly.
  2. Provide real-time support that can fuel sales.
  3. Use customer support to upsell.
  4. Invest efforts in social selling.
  5. Encourage the customer support team to share user data with the sales team.
  6. Keep customer success and sales efforts aligned.

Think we’ve missed out on any hacks that might have come your way? Share your ideas below.

Author bio:

Author

Sawaram Suthar is Director of Operation and Marketing at Acquire, and also a founder of TheNextScoop. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune.

 

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