Two teams operating as one.
That’s the essence of a seamless sales-to-service handoff.
At the end of the day, your ultimate goal when it comes to the sales-to-service handoff is that the client feels little to no difference when they transition between your sales and service teams —just consistent quality.
But like everything, this is definitely easier said than done.
However, we know it’s doable. The trick is to intentionally design a strong link between both teams in order to ensure a smooth transition for the client. Which is why today we’ll dig into more reasons why this handoff is critical to your organization’s success, how to get it right, and some tools you can use to enhance this oh-so-critical element of your business.
Why Is the Sales-To-Service Handoff So Important?
Once a customer has decided to make a purchase, the client relationship has begun.
Creating a positive first impression is key here. You want your customers to return for future business while encouraging others to do the same. Especially if you’re selling a product that runs on a subscription basis, you need to think about renewals in order to turn a profit.
How you start the service makes a world of difference. You must set the right tone. That’s one major reason the sales-to-service handoff is so critical.
And while you’re setting a strong positive tone for the budding service relationship, you also want to nurture customer excitement. Customers are naturally joyful right after an initial purchase. Build on that by enriching their experience beyond the purchase itself with a healthy handoff process.
The trick here is that customers come for the products but stay for the great service. In other words, your service is another product to the customers. Treat it that way in terms of how you ensure top-notch service.
Lastly, don’t forget that you’re pushing towards some sort of return on investment (ROI) from this customer engagement. The amount of time and energy you spend getting to ROI will determine a fair amount about the health of your business. Ideally, you’ll want to minimize the time to ROI while maximizing the ROI itself. A great sales-to-service handoff takes that into account and builds an effective transition accordingly.
Blueprint for a Good Sales-to-Service Handoff: Key Stages
As important as it is, there’s no need to overcomplicate the sales-to-service handoff. A good handoff has a few key stages. The important move here is to understand each stage and its function deeply while investing the time to ensure it is being executed effectively.
A seamless handoff from sales to service happens before the sale is complete.
Once a sales team has a solid customer profile and high confidence that a customer will convert, that essential information should be shared with the service team. Just from a capacity standpoint, it’s nice to provide service teams with a little notice so they can prepare various elements of the customer journey.
The sales team also has access to a treasure trove of information on new customers that can be valuable to the service team. Getting that information into the right hands so that the customer experience can be enriched post-purchase is critical.
Many teams underestimate the value of internal, team-focused meetings to get things in order.
Showing up to (or calling in to) external client meetings without norming and prepping amongst the core team that is doing the work with the client is, quite frankly, often a recipe for disaster.
Sure, it’s more billable hours, but the client will notice the difference. With everyone showing up on the same page and playing to each team member’s individual strengths, the client is further invested.
The internal team handoff sets the stage for how the product or service is actually delivered.
Every business always works hard to put its best face forward for the client.
But it’s that first meeting, that transition from sales to service, that requires the most finesse. You’re looking to set the tone and maintain client excitement coming off of the sale but you also need to get down to the business of the product or service.
It goes without saying that this handoff should be well-coordinated, materials should be shared in advance, and the experience should feel customized rather than the standard fare. This is where information from the sales team can help service teams personalize things.
The customer experience should be front and center during this handoff. Again, think of it as another product you’re delivering.
Launch and Onboarding
Getting the client engaged with the product is a big undertaking, but your mileage may vary.
Some clients prefer the self-serve option. Give them a list of answers to their FAQs and an introduction to key product features and they’re good to go.
Other customers will lean toward a more bespoke experience. For customers seeking more touchpoints, provide additional resources for support alongside customized guidance building out of the customer profile started during the sales process.
Preparing for and continuing your onboarding efforts even after you officially “launch” the client relationship is vital for future sales because it invests the client in the product and lays the foundation for renewals (and referrals).
This is where your ROI comes to fruition.
Lots of businesses today rely on renewals to drive profitability. Most customers will renew if they like and need the product. Many more customers will renew if the product works for them and the service is sterling.
At the end of the day, customers just wanted to be treated well. Sometimes that treatment comes from someone in a service capacity, and that’s OK.
Each step of the way, your service team should be planting seeds that will nudge the customers towards renewal.
How to Improve the Sales-to-Service Handoff Process
In order to enhance the sales-to-service handoff process, there are a few critical steps that you need to take with your team to truly optimize the process.
Align Sales and Service Teams
It’s right there in the phrase. For a sales-to-service handoff to go smoothly, your sales and service teams must be in sync.
As much as possible, get them sharing information at various points within the customer journey. Make it normal for the conversation to be fluid and open. There are some very healthy feedback cycles that can be created between these two teams that help improve both your sales and service departments.
Empower these teams to work together to develop a streamlined process for the sales-to-service handoff. Seamlessness should be the goal and they should measure customer reactions to their specific efforts in this area.
Set Shared Goals
Once the two teams are normed on the idea of working together, set some shared goals.
Clarify what the teams might accomplish together. Is it a positive client review? A renewal? Strong procedural execution?
Even if it’s all of the above (which it probably should be), you’ll need metrics to determine whether those goals are being achieved. Have the teams develop and discuss these metrics on a regular basis.
Use the data to improve aspects of the sales-to-service transition. Don’t be afraid to iterate on the process you design to stay fresh and relevant for customers and their unique needs.
Develop a Focused Checklist
Once your sales and service teams know how they’re being measured, the tasks that need to be done become clearer.
Building backward from a shared end goal (customer satisfaction, renewals, etc.), sales and service teams should develop clear roadmaps that get them to the desired outcomes on their checklists. This is where the teams should get very specific and drill down to the micro-steps needed to keep clients happy.
The checklist tasks as a whole should sum up to a larger strategy that’s borne out of the data. Sales and service teams should be looking to constantly improve on this checklist and should always be able to determine how each task folds into a broader plan.
Nurture Clients During Onboarding
We’ll say it again for good measure: Customer service is another product you’re offering.
Sales teams know this intrinsically, as the service they provide is a critical part of closing the deal. Customers simply cannot be put off by the approach of the sales team, otherwise there’s no sale.
But sometimes service teams get more product-focused than customer-centric. They emphasize product features rather than keying in on the customer experience, which is why high priority must be placed on client stewardship throughout the sales and service cycle.
Sales teams should gather essential information about clients that can be inserted into the overall client arc in order to enrich and personalize the experience. As clients are being onboarded to a product, this customized approach should be well-embedded.
Automation isn’t just an operational priority, it’s a massive time-saver and work-shifter.
Whether you’re using a CRM software or automating contract deployment, you’re setting up your sales and service teams for smoother operations and faster, more effective handoffs.
By automating key aspects of sales operations (think proposals and payments), sales teams can focus on customer stewardship and sharing key customer data with service teams. When a business embraces automation within its sales cycle, the work of the sales team shifts to building a strong bridge to service rather than boring, manual paperwork.
For service teams, automating flawless workflows (such a customer onboarding) and synthesizing customer data to produce actionable insights makes all the difference in terms of delivering a high-quality customer experience. Automation frees up service teams to be more customer-centric, while data collection and analysis helps these teams deliver customized experiences for clients.
The right automation tool can bridge the gap between sales and service teams while ensuring their individual and collective work.
You’re Ready for a Smooth Sales-to-Service Delivery
From understanding each important step in the handoff workflow to improving the overall transition by aligning teams, sharing goals, implementing automation, and more; the tactics we’ve covered today will help ensure your sales-to-service delivery is smooth.
To learn even more about what automation can do for your sales-to-service handoff process, check out how you can close more deals faster, with Dropbox Sign.