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How to Run an Agile Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success Team

Focus on what's truly important, the customer, by bringing an agile Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success team together under a hub-and-spoke model.


Part 1 - The Challenge

Ahh, Sales, Marketing and Customer Success. They are all such important pieces of the same pie, and yet they rarely operate as a team. If you're like most companies, your cycle probably looks something like this:

1) your marketing team is working hard to push out content that is relevant to prospective customers

2) the sales team is trying to narrow down who is actually qualified and close the deal, and

3) the customer success team is tasked with delivering the solution that was promised.

This common structure is often referred to as a "siloed model."

Pain points that arise from the siloed model

a) Marketing and Sales are upset with each other.

  • Marketing is upset with Sales because Sales is not following up on the leads they are working so hard to generate.
  • Sales is upset with Marketing, because they feel the quality of the leads are poor. They have tried to follow up, but to no avail, and the leads they have spoken with are not actually interested in the product.

b) Sales and Customer Success are upset with each other.

  • Sales finally got some qualified leads and worked everything all the way through to close, only to find that they won't be able to onboard the customer for weeks.
  • Customer Success is mad at Sales because the customer was promised a timeline and a solution that can't really be delivered.

if your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams are not interacting with each other to share what they learn, they might as well not be talking to the customer at all

Is the Problem Lack of Business Agility?

Let's assume that the members of these teams are all competent individuals. If we start with that assumption, then the problem must not be the people - it's the process. In working with teams ranging from Fortune 500 companies to 10 person shops, I find that this disconnect usually boils down to 2 problems, which are really 2 branches of the same problem: lack of business agility. 

Do you suffer from "Funnel Vision"?

Funnel

Issue #1 is the broadest, so I will begin there. Companies view their customers through what I'll call "Funnel Vision". They have a linear mindset, where they want to attract new prospects, close them, implement a solution, and move on, getting the next group of prospects in one end of the funnel and out the other.

Are You Operating as a "Hub and Spoke" model?

The truth is, this relationship should look a lot more like a bicycle wheel. The customer should always be at the center. Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success should be the rubber tire, constantly moving in a circle around the hub, and the spokes are the touch-points and interactions with the customer.

Wheel

Now that we have the broad structural roadblock out of the way, it’s time to get into the details of issue #2. Each of those spokes, represent a touch point or conversation with the customer that a member of each disparate team might be having. How often do you think that valuable feedback gleaned from a customer is relayed back to the other members of the triad? If you are in a traditional funnel organization, my guess is: not often, or not as often as it should be. Marketing has the unique opportunity to create messaging that attracts prospects. The sales team has the unique opportunity to engage with customers and validate that an ad they saw was valuable enough to cause them to purchase. The customer success team has the unique opportunity to implement the solution the customer wants, and get feedback on what is most valuable while customers are actually using the product. If marketing is advertising a solution that can't be delivered, sales and customer success will feel the sting of that initiative. If sales and customer success aren't sharing the insights they learn from in depth interaction with the customer, then the marketing team never learns what is truly valuable to current and prospective customers, and is unable to communicate those findings to the marketplace to attract new prospects.

The antidote for what ails most organizations is more business agility! Each part of the organization should be trying, learning, and adapting - not just when it comes to the customer, but when it comes to internal interactions among the teams.

Coming soon, Part 2, in which I'll share how Coras Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success came together to operate as an agile business team, with a customer focus.

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