Creating Successful Sale To Service Transitions for Your Sponsors
Aligning your organization’s sales and service teams is the key to increasing sales and keeping retention high. That simple step also helps you avoid unnecessary and unwanted attrition in your sponsorship program.
Here are four steps to improve the relationship between these teams and give your sponsors a seamless and smooth transition.
It All Starts at the Top
Align the leadership of your sales and service teams. While often more easily said than done, this is a critical first step. There has been a recent trend combining the Sales Manager role and Service Manager role into one position. We do not structure our team at Tandem in this way, but we can certainly see the potential benefits.
Relevant team members from each account - sales and service - should meet or communicate regularly about the account. Hearing the other perspective will benefit the company and avoid decision-making that favors only one team. When the leaders of your sales and service departments are talking regularly, they’re far less likely to set conflicting goals. In that vein . . .
Align Sales and Service Goals
The service team should be aware of the sales team’s new business and renewal targets; the sales department should be aware of how the service team is fulfilling each contract. If your organization does not have goals for your service team, plan to implement them. A rising tide raises all ships, and everybody plays harder when they have real skin in the game.
Sales could smooth-talk anyone into buying your product without ever considering customer fit. The service team could make every sponsor happy if they were all a perfect fit. But neither scenario produces the best outcome for the sponsor or the business.
Include the Sales team in Account Updates
Sales representatives are focused on bringing in new business for the company. That singular focus drives their day and their success.
But ensuring renewal is easy is simple. Keep them in the loop on the service team’s progress and timeline. An account's salesperson will have previous exposure with the goals and limits of the sponsor brought on board. Using this knowledge, a salesperson can offer the service team insight on how to succeed - and if the fulfillment process is successful, the sales person will likely have a much easier time during renewal season.
This strategy also helps them speak knowledgeably about the servicing hand-off once they've closed a new customer.
It's important to find the right way for sales and service to update. Each account and team member may be different; allow the relevant individuals for each account to choose the best fit for their situation.
Ensure Sponsor, Sales & Servicing are all Part of the Transition
At Tandem we subscribe to “more is more”. More communication is better than less. We involve our service team early in the process. This allows a full grasp of the sponsorship, the assets and the people involved. When it comes time for the formal transition to the service team, our sales team does the introduction and handoff. The salesperson remains copied on communication, but the service person is the new lead and point of contact. An invested and present (even if only by CC) salesperson reassures sponsors.
If everything works out according to plan, then a salesperson has taken a brand from a prospect to a sponsor. It’s now time to involve the service team and begin fulfillment, execution and implementation. Fulfillment is an incredibly appropriate term. It speaks not only to the literal aspect of contractual fulfillment, but also the theoretical aspect of what you aim to make a sponsor feel as a result of the deal. In order to provide this high level of satisfaction, your sales team must work together with everyone involved in the fulfillment process, including campaign planning, implementation, promotion, and execution to meet and exceed expectations.
The fulfillment stage of the sponsorship process should be the first stage of what both sides hope will be a long-term relationship. (Again, easy renewals are the ideal!) Too often, sales executives look at fulfillment as the final step, which is incredibly short sighted and may lead to attrition over the long term.
How Do You Do It?
Share the Load
Maybe one person does everything for a client, but even in the smallest of businesses this usually isn’t the case. Share the love and the load as you work to turn that lead into the happy client you always dreamed she could become. Now that she has turned over her hard earned money, she will be expecting VIP treatment from your team. And she should get it.
Ways you can share:
- All relevant contact and account information collected during the conversations and activities in the early stages of the sales process should be communicated to the service team.
- Promises should be well documented and communicated to team members joining the account. The service team cannot fulfill items they are not told about.
- Communicate any changes in your team contacts to your new customer in a friendly, helpful way.
- Document and highlight any special requirements or extenuating circumstances that were brought up during the sales process to the entire team.
- Be up front about any turbulence your new client might encounter when transitioning over to the fulfillment team. Your team should educate clients on timeline expectations, so that vacation schedules, staff changes, and other natural disruptions to the flow don’t mean a customer falls through the cracks.
- Make the sales team available to the service for any future questions or clarifications needed. This aligns with the regular discussions between account team members discussed above.
Using Your CRM
By storing important lead information in your CRM, you can make the hand off between sales and service seamless. When your sales team understands the value of a long-term happy customer, they will be happy to keep the CRM info up to date for each lead throughout the sales process. As a result, the service team can really focus on providing a wonderful fulfillment of all the promises made during the follow-up stage.
CRM makes for a smooth sales hand-off by:
- Providing everyone with up to date contact information and lead “backstory.”
- Giving you a place to store sales promises, perhaps as tasks to be completed, so that every client is made happy.
- Providing a place to earmark changing goals or targets for the clients, to be analyzed year over year to see how the fulfillment process may change to meet new or changed expectations.
Keep Your Data Fresh
Everyone who interacts with your leads/customers should have access to as much information as possible. However, sometimes that information is not shared. Here are a few tips to help your whole team work together to keep account data up to date:
- Have one place to store everything. It just won’t do if your sales team keeps contact info in one place and your service team keeps it somewhere else.
- Integrate your systems. While the above tip is true, there is not one piece of software that will help you do everything you need to do. Keep your contact info in a CRM that can work with your other tools, such as your email service provider, accounting software, processing software, web form creator, and your social networks.
- Use shortcuts. Since most communication happens via email these days, it is easy to save conversation history with your accounts.
- Explain value. No sales or service person loves data entry. Some individuals are better than others at note-taking (and inputing). Provide clear-cut examples of the value this data entry provides to encourage the teams.
What Not To Do
Keep everyone on the same page with a smooth transition from intent to purchase to actually getting them the item. It’s a group effort that will benefit your customer the most.
Just because the sale has been made does not mean the selling is done. Taking someone’s money and then leaving them alone to figure out who they need to talk to next is, in some legal circles, considered abandonment. Cliff notes: It’s bad.
Don’t hoard the relationship
Your customer is best served if they feel they have a special relationship with your entire company. No matter who they call, that person should know the full history of communications, promises and purchases. You may like being their favorite sales representative, but you will ultimately benefit more if they feel that they are your business’s favorite customer.