In any organization, both sales and customer support are usually the first people to engage with customers. Even though they are set up differently or function separately, these two departments share a lot of similarities and have intertwined roles. The most important is to fulfill customers’ demands or expectations.
Any business aiming to be customer-centric or wants to easily convert leads into customers must ensure that these two departments are always working in harmony.
A good working relationship between sales and customer support teams will help keep customers happy and improve your bottom line. Studies show that teams that are highly engaged help increase your profitability by 21%.
A broken sales and customer support relationship can be damaging. It will cause poor relationships between teams. Poor relationships cause low morale and less commitment to the organization’s goals. As a result, there will be more churn and a drop in revenue.
In this post, we will explore ways to build or strengthen this relationship between sales and customer support and maximize your team’s performance.
1. Have a Shared Goal
A major cause of the rift between the sales department and customer support is that each department has different goals/priorities. Sales seem to be return-driven while customer support is cost/saving driven. As a result, the sales team focuses on the immediate result and will always want to close business as fast as possible no matter the cost. Besides, a salesperson’s effort is measured by:
- The frequency and length of phone calls with prospects. Research shows that organizations expect sales reps to make at least 60 calls per day.
- The number of meetings set with prospects.
- The number of leads generated.
Customer support on the other hand wants to reduce operating costs. As a result, each support rep’s effort is measured by:
- How fast they resolve tickets, and customer complains
- Reducing/lowering the number of tickets
As an organization, look at the metrics/goals/motivations that drive your sales and support teams. If these goals or motivations conflict, come up with common goals that will get them to work together.
For example, you can make your organization cost-driven, and get your sales and support teams focused on keeping expenses down.
Both sales and customer support work towards improving company goals, so ensure both have no competing goals. Besides, ensure they both understand what the other is doing. Each team should also appreciate the effort of the other team member and the challenges they face. These should help improve teams’ productivity.
2. Encourage Sharing of Information and Data
To boost sales, sales teams are always looking for information on why customers love a product. Most often, such information is always shared with the support teams (through customer surveys) since they are the ones that often engage with customers once the selling process is complete.
Customer support, on the other hand, aims to ensure that any person interacting with the brand gets a positive experience. As a result, they need to know more about every customer, lead, or prospect that the sales team interacts with or brings.
When these two departments are not talking or are opaque, support reps will find themselves unable to offer positive experiences since they know little about the customers the sales team engages. At the same time, sales teams cannot meet their quotas because they are unaware of important features customers like that they could have used to influence a customer’s buying decision. So we have a case of low customer satisfaction and missed sales opportunities. This eventually hurts the overall company growth.
As an organization, encourage sales and support teams to be as transparent as possible when sharing information and data about customers. Each department should constantly update the other with the expectation they have set with customers. Teach both teams also the different ways they can communicate with one another and also the importance of providing quick feedback and being easily available for help or correcting miscommunication.
3. Promote Cross-Training
Apart from encouraging transparency in information sharing, this partnership between sales and customer support can also be successful through cross-training.
Support teams can learn a lot from sales, especially upsell and cross-selling techniques. We already know that once a customer has brought a product, he/she will mostly engage with support reps, whether it is raising complaints or sharing the features they love.
Support reps can use the knowledge from sales to determine when to upsell or cross-sell to a customer.
Sales reps can benefit from customer support knowledge on how to handle customer complaints. When a customer has issues with a product, the next person they will complain to, other than the support team, is the person who sold them the product. Knowing how to handle customer complaints effectively will help sales reps to provide the best experience to customers. By cross-training, you will enable sales and support teams to excel in their roles and maximize brand success.
4. Use Collaboration Tools
We have touched on the benefits of being transparent and sharing information. And there are several ways to accomplish that. One is through face-to-face interaction or meetings.
However, since we live in a fast-paced world, the most efficient way to encourage quick sharing of information is to give your team members the right collaboration tools.
The right collaboration tools, whether it is smart CRM tools, will help you keep up with every team’s actions and collect accurate information in real-time.
For example, when a team member engages with a customer, all the customer’s valuable information such as support issues, areas of interest, deals, and even buying behavior is stored in the system so any other team member the customer interacts with will offer the best experience as they can access all the details about the customer right from their dashboard.
Smart CRM tools will also show each team’s performance and weak links. As a result, each team member can work towards improving and achieving their goals without blaming one another.
5. Establish Consistent Communication
A survey by Mital shows that ineffective communication causes businesses to lose $11,000 per employee every year. It further reveals that inefficient communication causes employees to lose close to 15% of their productive time.
Inconsistent and poor communication causes unmet expectations. Sales and customer support teams miss deadlines and opportunities. Besides, they will be unaware of what their role is and end up disappointing the customer and the organization
The most common signs of being inconsistent in communication are communicating only when you have bad news or when you want to reprimand an employee or when you have an urgent customer issue to resolve.
As management, you need to establish a way to communicate consistently with your team and also for teams to communicate with one another. The first step is to have an internal communication strategy. Then choose the right channel, be it chats, newsletters, meetings, social communities, or messages. Remember also to encourage feedback from your team. Your employees should not be shocked to see your mail or message.
Communicating with your support and sales team consistently will ensure they are informed of what is happening in the organization and with clients and easily meet expectations. This is because consistent communication fosters loyalty. It creates a conducive work environment as it inspires trust and instills motivation. By communicating consistently, both teams will speak the same language when interacting with a customer and improve the customer experience.
Help Sales and Customer Support Teams Work Better
Sales and customer support may have different priorities and challenges. But ultimately, both work to improve customer satisfaction/and generate more business. That means there is no way you can improve customer experience, bring repeat business, and improve your brand image if sales and customer support teams have a poor working relationship.
You can eliminate obstacles that lead to poor working relationships by establishing a shared goal, promoting cross-training, and encouraging sharing of information and data. This will ensure sales and customer support work hand in hand and not against one another and foster stronger relationships for the overall success of the organization.
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.