Sales to Customer Success Handoff Guide [+ Template]

Elen Udovichenko
April 9, 2024
0 min read
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sales to cs guide

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Closing might be the final stage of your sales process, yet, for your customer it’s just another step in their journey. Moreover, it’s one of the most important steps as they get introduced to your product and actually start integrating it into their processes.

Sales handoff plays a major role in customer success, setting the stage for your ongoing collaboration with the customer and greatly defining its outcomes.

That is why it’s so important to get it right and ensure a smooth transition from sales to customer success team. In this guide, we will explore the role of sales handoff, share the templates you can replicate, and offer some pro tips to improve your own process.

Understanding the sales to customer success handoff process

The sales to customer success handoff process is a crucial step in the customer journey, where responsibility for managing the customer relationship transitions from the sales team to the customer success team. This transition ensures a smooth onboarding experience for the customer and sets the stage for long-term satisfaction and retention.

When should the sales handoff happen?

The sales to customer success handoff should ideally happen once a customer has completed their purchase and is ready to start using the product or service. However, the exact timing can vary depending on the complexity of the product or service, the customer's specific needs, and the sales process of your organization.

What is the role of sales in handoff?

The sales team provides a deep understanding of the customer's needs and expectations, qualifying leads effectively, and building rapport and trust with the customer. They should ensure a smooth transition by sharing relevant documentation, facilitating transition meetings, and maintaining communication with customer success throughout the handoff process.

Source: LinkedIn

What is the role of CSM in handoff?

In the handoff process, the customer success manager (CSM) assumes responsibility for guiding the customer through onboarding and adoption to long-term success. They establish rapport with the customer and maintain ongoing engagement to address needs, gather feedback, and drive value realization, ensuring a seamless transition and maximizing customer satisfaction and retention.

The benefits of a smooth handoff from sales to customer success teams

A smooth transition between sales and customer success teams is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Elevated customer experience: A seamless transition ensures that customers consistently receive reliable support from the sales process to using the product. This builds trust in the company and its offerings.
  2. Improved efficiency: A smooth handoff minimizes delays and improves communication between teams, making the transition process more efficient. This helps customers start using the product faster, leading to quicker results.
  3. Higher customer retention: A well-managed handoff leads to higher customer satisfaction by promptly addressing their needs. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay loyal to the company and recommend it to others.
  4. Maximized value: A smooth transition ensures customers receive the necessary support, helping them get the most value from the product or service. This leads to higher customer success, better returns on investment, and stronger customer relationships.
  5. Better cross-functional collaboration: A smooth handoff promotes collaboration between sales and customer success teams, allowing for the exchange of knowledge and feedback. This enables continuous improvement of the customer experience.
Source: LinkedIn

If you want to get all the benefits of seamless sales handoff, you need a solid process to follow. Here’s how we do it at Flowla.

Sales to customer success handoff process at Flowla

Before we dive into the process of handoff from sales to customer success at Flowla, it’s worth mentioning that we’re a lean team with a founder-led sales process. This means we don’t have dedicated AEs and SDRs filling the pipeline and doing the discovery/demo/qualification. Instead, our co-founder and CEO, Erdem, handles most of the process. 

However, we do have a dedicated Customer Success Manager who gets involved in the early stages of the deal. So if you have a bigger team with a more complex structure, you might want to tweak the process to better fit your needs. Other than that, use our sales to customer success handoff template offers a comprehensive set of steps to cover all the bases. So, let’s get started.

Nail your sales to CS handoff
Get a free copy of our step-by-step checklist.

The typical process involves internal and customer-facing activities, so it’s possible to break it down into two parts.

1. Internal handoff

The preparation for the handoff should start long before the deal closes. The sales team will need to have all the relevant information documented during the earlier stages of the process to hand over it to the customer success team. 

For instance, we’re documenting all the info in our CRM which makes it easily accessible to everyone. The basic account details include:

  • Company details (name, size, industry)
  • Customer details (stakeholder names, roles, responsibilities, contacts)
  • Other details (e.g., contract information, pricing plan, number of seats, billing frequency, and renewal date).

Other information shared internally includes:

  • Meeting notes & recordings
  • Specific features the customer is looking for
  • Preferences
  • Anything else to know

Yet, the amount of information and specific details might be different for each organization. For example, Kristi Faltorusso lists the following 10 must-have pieces of information to hand off:

  1. Company overview — insights on the company's operations, customer base, values, performance, and competition for better understanding.
  2. Business goals and partnership objectives — specific things you will need to deliver and the KPIs they will measure you against.
  3. Product use cases — outline of product applications that resonate with the customer, their envisioned usage, and points of interest.
  4. Key stakeholders — key individuals involved in the partnership, including daily contacts, influencers, and executives, detailing their backgrounds and roles.
  5. Organizational chart overview — an overview of the organizational structure, reporting lines, and connections using available tools.
  6. Contract review — summary of purchased products, intended use cases, and any omitted purchases or concerns impacting progress.
  7. Special contract terms — unique contract provisions like auto-renewal, pricing conditions, and payment terms.
  8. Competitive evaluation — insights on competitors considered during the sales cycle and reasons for choosing our solution over others.
  9. Customer expectations — expectations set by the customer, such as onboarding timelines, support availability, and training requirements.
  10. Technical requirements or product requests — technical needs, custom development requirements, integrations, and associated timelines.

The key here is to avoid miscommunication and make sure your CS team has all the information about the customer and the project to help them meet their expectations.

Based on this information, the CS manager would draft the goals and timelines for the project and pick relevant resources to share with the customer at the next stage.

2. External handoff

Once you’ve figured out all the details internally, you can start the external handoff process involving the customer.

Since the CS manager gets involved early on, there’s no need for a formal handoff. Once the customer is ready, we will simply add or unlock the dedicated part of their flow introducing the CS manager and inviting them to book a personal workshop.

However, if you’re looking for a sales to customer success handoff email template, you can include something like this into your call follow-up:

Hi [First name],

Thank you for the nice chat today. [Meeting summary of any information you would like to reiterate.]

I'd like to introduce you to [Name], our Customer Success Manager. As agreed, she'll help you get started with [Product] and show you how to get the most out of it considering your use case.

Let's set up a workshop meeting as a next step.

[Sign off]

So, instead of a handoff meeting, we will simply outline the details of the collaboration, including the information collected and shared by the sales team during the internal handoff, project goals and timeline, as well as the necessary resources in a flow. 

Steal this flow to use as a sales to customer success template.

After that, we typically hold a personal workshop to kick off the project — our CS manager would walk the customer through the process of creating their first flow to get familiar with the product.

Nail your sales to CS handoff
Get a free copy of our step-by-step checklist.

5 elements of a smooth sales handoff process

Wrapping up, we can highlight the 5 key components of an effective sales to customer success handoff:

  • Effective communication & info sharing

Establishing effective communication channels is vital for ensuring a smooth handoff process. This involves creating avenues for regular communication between sales and customer success teams, such as team meetings, email updates, or collaboration tools.

Information sharing should be timely, accurate, and comprehensive. Sales should provide detailed insights into customer needs, preferences, and expectations, while customer success should communicate feedback and updates on customer progress post-handoff.

  • Clear roles and responsibilities

Clearly defining roles and responsibilities helps prevent confusion and ensures accountability during the handoff process. Sales should understand their role in gathering pertinent customer information and initiating the handoff, while customer success should be clear on their responsibilities in onboarding and supporting the customer post-sale.

Documenting these roles and responsibilities can provide a reference point for both teams and help streamline the handoff process.

  • Understanding customer goals (and aligning your processes with them)

It's essential to have a deep understanding of the customer's goals and objectives throughout their journey. Sales should gather this information during the sales process and communicate it effectively to customer success.

Customer success should align their processes with the customer's goals, tailoring onboarding, support, and ongoing engagement strategies accordingly. This alignment ensures that the customer's needs are at the forefront of every interaction and decision.

  • Joint customer success plan (with milestones and objectives)

Developing a customer success plan between sales and customer success teams helps outline the journey from acquisition to long-term success. This plan should include specific milestones, objectives, and timelines that both teams work towards together.

By establishing clear benchmarks for customer success metrics, such as product adoption rates or customer satisfaction scores, both teams can track progress and adjust strategies as needed to ensure long-term customer loyalty.

Check out this guide to create an effective customer success plan.

  • Collaboration and feedback

Foster a culture of collaboration and feedback between sales and customer success teams to continuously improve the handoff process. Encourage open communication, sharing of insights, and constructive feedback.

Regularly scheduled check-ins or debrief meetings can provide opportunities for both teams to discuss successes, challenges, and areas for improvement. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for customer success across the organization.

Moving forward

From the first interaction with your brand and up to the point when they decide to part ways with your company (or even after that), you should strive to create a seamless and pleasant customer experience.

Hopefully, our template and tips will help you make the customer transition from sales to customer success as easy and frictionless as possible.

If you’re looking for a single platform to streamline all your customer interactions, give Flowla a try. From the first contact up to onboarding and implementation, we turn clunky spreadsheets, documents, and email threads into one interactive onboarding journey.

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