Sales and support: aligning to improve customer retention

By Andrew Gori

Published August 31, 2017
Last updated August 31, 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a four-part guest blog series from Base CRM dedicated to exploring the ways that sales and support can partner to help drive each other’s KPIs and business objectives.

The first post in this blog series focused on how sales and support can partner to improve customer acquisition. Making new connections, moving prospects through the pipeline, signing contracts—everyone can celebrate closing a new customer.

But did you know that companies focused on client retention are three times as likely to increase market share as those focused solely on acquisition? Or that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% boosts profits by as much as 95%?

Companies that are in it for the long haul must place as much emphasis on retention as they do acquisition. And just as support can help seal the deal for sales, so can sales aid support in their customer retention efforts. Here’s how.

Set up support for success

Although it may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, customer retention actually begins before acquisition. Promising a prospect something during the sales cycle that has little chance of happening post-acquisition is simply setting them up to churn, as does forcing a sale on a customer who is not a great fit for your product.

As senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and HBR author Jill Avery advises, “Think about the customers you want to serve up front and focus on acquiring the right customers. The goal is to bring in and keep customers who you can provide value to and who are valuable to you.”

Companies often think they have a retention problem, when, in reality, the acquisition process is the issue. The first step to ensuring that your sales team is setting support up for success is to provide reps with comprehensive product training. This will help prevent them from accidentally over-promising features or functionality that your product simply can’t deliver.

The next step is for reps to make sure that they fully understand prospects’ needs and wants from the very beginning of the sales cycle. Putting the steps necessary in your sales process for reps to adequately evaluate pains and opportunities is one of the most effective ways for management to ensure that this analysis is consistently taking place.

Finally, empower your reps to say no. Every salesperson wants to believe that their company’s product or service is everyone’s silver bullet. But the reality is that it can’t be the perfect fit for everybody – and that’s okay. What’s not okay is failing to set expectations for these folks. Long term, with the right sales data strategy in place, you should be able to pinpoint the most valuable types of leads for your business and adjust your prospecting strategies accordingly.

Tune into support conversations

Good sales reps serve as prospects’ counselors and allies through the sometimes intimidating and often overwhelming purchase process. It makes sense that customers get attached and continue to look to their sales reps to provide guidance and advice after the sale has closed. In fact, it’s actually a great sign, as it shows that your customer trusts you.

However, things can get a bit messy in the event that a customer, eager for answers, reaches out to both a rep and support. When this occurs, it’s key for these two departments to align so as not to muddle the customer experience with conflicting information.

Such conflict can be mitigated by integrating your sales and support platforms so that reps can see exactly how support is responding to particular customer requests. This functionality also serves to alert sales of customers who are not reaching out to support, but should be. In these cases, reps can help drive retention by ensuring that customers are aware of the success resources at their disposal.

Base’s own Head of Support, Jo-Anne Rodriguez, adds, “It’s important that if a rep notices that a customer is having issues but isn’t reaching out to support, that he or she makes a formal introduction, rather than just forwarding the customer’s email along. This handoff is really key to providing a seamless customer experience, and helps transfer that customer’s trust from the rep to the support specialist.”

It Takes Two

By integrating sales and support tools like Base and Zendesk, companies make it possible for their customer service and sales teams to work together like never before. The ability for these teams to quickly and easily view cross-functional information like each other’s customer conversations aids in creating more streamlined experiences that foster retention.

Learn more about the Zendesk and Base CRM integration

This post was written by Rachel Serpa and originally appeared on the Base CRM blog.