Customer Success Enablement: Why it Matters Just as Much as Sales Enablement

Customer Success

Right Before the 2020 US holiday shut down, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Giorgia Ortiz of Lever, Global Head of Sales Enablement. The interview was so inspiring and led to this video and blog.’

How is your team enabling your customer success teams? Now is the time to make team enablement a focus to help your customers adopt and thrive.

 Customers are the bedrock of any business. Yet, acquiring customers and keeping them loyal to your business is easier said than done. Essentially, it requires the coordinated efforts of Enablement and Customer Success (CS) teams to keep customers happy and satisfied with your product. However, a structured, cut-the-clutter approach will go a long way toward achieving your goal.

If you succeed in breaking down the invisible barrier that separates the two functions of Sales Enablement and Customer Success, the task of retaining your clients is not that difficult. 

End-to-end engagement with customers is key to the success of your business or service. So, the first step is to identify the roadblocks that come in the way of your effective engagement with the customer.

Misalignment between Marketing/Sales and Customer Success Functions

In most firms, what happens is that the role of a sales person ends with selling the product to the customer. From there, the customer success professional takes over the process of customer engagement. This misalignment between two functions often leads to a disruption in customer experience.

In fact, this misalignment extends to other areas as well. For example, marketing/sales will have the content and learning material created specifically to help them in sales. If you take the material thus created and apply it to the Customer Success Teams, then clearly there is a misalignment between their actual requirement and what they get, disrupting customer experience. Clearly, the one-size-fits-all approach will not work here.

Sales Enablement

Customer Success and Sales Enablement Need Not Work in Silos

Any organization should have a Head of Enablement and Head of Ops. Sales Enablement, CS Enablement and SC Enablement come under Head of Enablement, while CS Ops, Marketing Ops, and Sales Ops come under Head of Ops. The ops functions come under Revenue Ops, while Enablement functions should report to the Head of Revenue Enablement. The creation of such a structure will help break down the silos that naturally gets created within these groups. 

Instead of functioning as water-tight compartments, the Sales Enablement and Customer Success functions can work in close cooperation, leveraging each other’s learning. For instance, sales can learn a lot from CS in terms of analyzing customer experience, while CS can learn from Sales about the competitive landscape. An example would make the point clearer. If a customer account is coming up for renewal, the CS representative will be responsible for the revenue from that account. In this case, it would make sense for him to collaborate with his sales enablement counterpart to ensure that the customer remains loyal to the product and the company.

It is clear that inter-departmental cooperation is essential to retain customers. Companies need not necessarily invest in resources that point to the possibilities of cooperation that will benefit them in various ways. But they do require a dedicated person to perform this important function. Even hybrid roles will serve the purpose well. For example, a sales expert can very well work with the CS team to help them leverage his skill sets to their advantage.

The Mistakes Companies Make

Sales Enablement and Customer Success Enablement are two of the important functions in any organization. However, instead of working together, what actually happens is that the sales and CS teams end up becoming individual cogs of  machines creating separate content of their own. Typically, it takes almost a year for the two functions to realize this mistake. By then, too much time is lost on non-sales functions such as Customer Success.

A second mistake companies make is wasting tremendous amounts of time in formulating processes. Very often, companies look out for third-party service providers and other external sources to establish their internal process. If your products are selling, it means that your marketing strategy is working. Just adopt the best sales process that has been proven, and you are done. For example, the famed Spin Selling strategy was not an invention, but an observation made by the best sales people at Xerox.

Another important aspect for Customer Success function is to take a step back and look at the big picture before formulating the strategy. In fact, the CS function has to be a step ahead of the Sales function. Because CS engages directly with the customer, their role is all the more important as getting new customers is harder and more expensive compared to keeping existing customers.

What to Look for While Hiring a CS Enablement Manager?

As with any other function, it will help if the candidate has previous experience in the field as it will be much harder for a person from a different background to succeed in the role. Technology is a great enabler in helping a CS Enablement Manager carry out his tasks efficiently. 

First of all, it helps to have a central repository for all your learning assets. Content Management Systems such as Hispat, Sizemec, and Showpac are quite popular with customer success professionals. Tools such as Gong or Cores also help CS to engage with customers. Above all, Salesforce remains the most important tool for a marketing/CS professional. 

Conclusion

To create value for its customers every business needs dedicated Sales Enablement and Customer Success teams that work hand in hand and in a structured manner to build loyalty to a brand and its products. 

You can also learn more about sales and customer success enablement in this interview on YouTube with Giorgia Ortiz, Head of Sales Enablement at Lever, and Emilia D’Anzica, CEO and Founder of Growth Molecules.

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