The health of your business will improve when sales and customer service aren't separate silos. (A previous blog explained the benefits of aligning them.) In this blog, we’ll recommend ways to do so. But first, let’s summarize what can happen if they don’t work together:
- Unhappy customers spread negativity about their experience and create barriers for future sales. (Bad news travels fast.)
- Customer service spends too much time appeasing customers whose initial sales gained a commission for an ambitious sales rep – but aren't your ideal customer.
- Customer loyalty goes down the toilet, and with it repeat sales, which cost less money and require less effort than winning new customers.
- Lack of communication and teamwork result in a breakdown of business processes and undercut your goals.
Aligning sales and customer service isn't a pipe dream – it’s entirely doable. Jason Karaman, writing for Customer Contact Week Digital, likens it to a football team. “While the offensive line and the running back both have wildly different tasks and coaches, their overall goal is the same: to score a touchdown,” he points out. “The same principle works here: sales and customer service both have different tasks and different leaders, yet are working for the same goal: business success.” Karaman says looking at the entire customer experience is the foundation of aligning the sales and customer service teams. He recommends four keys to its success.
4 Keys to Successful Alignment of Sales and Customer Service
1. Educate everyone on your business mission.
Simon Sinek's book, Start with Why, suggests that you do exactly that. Successful businesses with highly functional, dedicated teams have goals that, yes, include making money – but also accomplish a larger purpose. Know what your larger purpose(s) are. Involve others in forming the strategy to reach company-wide goals and include everyone in conversations about it. Communicate your 'why' consistently and clearly. When sales and customer service share the vision, they'll be motivated to work better together.
2. Cross-train to increase understanding.
Give the sales team experience answering customer service inquiries, and teach customer service reps to close a sale if someone they’re talking to is ready to buy. Your CRM system supports these shared endeavors by storing all customer intelligence where it's accessible to both teams and keeping procedures consistent.
3. Promote constant interaction.
Keep sales and customer service in an ongoing dialogue. Are their offices adjacent? Do your processes include regular strategy touch points? It's smart to provide communication channels to support collaborative efforts. Again, a well-chosen and well-configured CRM system will keep their actions visible and in sync while promoting teamwork.
HubSpot published an article by Eva Klein about how leadership can set up a structure to guarantee these interactions and accountability for a collaborative effort. She recommends that the head of sales and the head of customer service report to the same person, such as chief revenue officer or COO. Klein’s suggestions to CEOs are worth a read.
4. Create a culture of mutual respect.
Returning to Karaman’s example, the offensive line and defensive backs might have different coaches and different training, but they know they need each other. They respect each other’s skills and work together as they drive toward their common goal – as your sales and customer service teams should.