Last week, I wrote about the idea of needing to rethink “When We Win” in B2B tech sales. If customer success is critical to your business growth, then focusing the energy and excitement on new customer acquisition is short sighted. To change, a number of subtle, but important shifts need to occur. One of them is the idea of “hand-offs.”
The term hand-off is used pretty regularly in tech companies. We hand off leads (from marketing to sales). We hand off customers (from sales to account management or customer service). The idea is clear. This is no longer our responsibility. It is yours. And the customer sees all of this.
I think its time to eliminate the concept of hand-offs. Instead, think about it differently, there is not a great word for this, so I’ll suggest one–“leadershifts.” Rather than pass on responsibility, make a shift in who is leading the effort to work with the customer at any point in time.
A leadershift approach would be more reflective of the way that customers buy today, fluidly moving back and forth in their buying process with different priorities rising to the top or becoming secondary. But it would also carry with it some assumptions (and possibly some extra work–that would need to be managed and optimized):
- All parties/groups, that might be involved in customer success, stay involved for the life of the relationship.
- At various points in time, some groups may be have very little responsibility or activity, but they would need to stay informed of what is going on.
- Responsibility would be owned by the collective—with leadership shifting as the customer relationship changes.
The good news is that we have technologies–CRM and collaboration tools–that can help keep everyone informed and involved, whether they are very active or largely observing.
A shift from hand-offs to “leadershift” mode is subtle, but it would illustrate that everyone is involved in customer success. It could (maybe, just maybe) reduce the likelihood that sales reps overpromise, whereas today that becomes “customer service’s problem.” It could ease the path and communication when services teams recognize an opportunity for expansion.
I’m not sure if the term “leadershift” works. I made it up for this post. But I thought it was better than my other idea –transition. Transition is better than hand-off,it sounds more organized. But it seldom implies a flow back to the previous owner.
Leadershifting might be part of the answer (a small part) toward getting everyone focused on customer success together.
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