Most B2E companies create dedicated teams for sales and service as soon as they can afford to start specializing. But something can get lost in that evolution which is important to note for employees handling either function.
In startup stage, one person or a small group typically handles the selling and on-boarding of new customers as one seamless process. The who, what, when, where and how a product or service will be implemented is therefore always a big part of the sales conversation early on – the sellers have a very vested interest as they are also the trainers, installers, and help desk! Your first customers will have the best buying experience of their lives and you’ll keep them for years and years as your best cheerleaders and case studies. But when sales becomes Sales with a capital S, firm plans give way to, “Our service group will help you with all that.”
Sales people need to do more than secure a purchase order, they need to establish a successful implementation plan for their schools. For one thing, raising the question of a launch date is a great technique to get an administrator to show their hand on if and when they plan to buy. [Read more on the importance of getting your clients to yes, no or maybe quickly.] But even more importantly, laying out the usage plan will determine their success, their happiness, their propensity to grow your word of mouth leads, and their incremental add-on and renewal purchases where applicable.
I recommend Sales and Service get together on a check list for on-boarding that makes it easy for a rep to ask the right questions to plant the early seeds of a sticky implementation. Far from delaying or cooling off a sale, districts appreciate a helping hand in the process. It will differentiate your B2E from free and freemium products where implementation and on-going support is typically a weakness. A disorganized launch could leave a future black hole of regret in your territory that is well worth your time to avoid. Sales Managers should consider including a trigger for company service metrics and/or customer retention in your sales team’s comp plan to keep their full attention on them.
Now, what’s happening on the flip side of the customer life cycle? While customers are interacting with the training and customer support groups, are they giving off buying signals for up-sales, cross-sales, renewals and referrals which go unreported or unrecognized? Ideally, all trainers and service personnel are given sales training and have open channels of communication with the sales team. I recommend that Regional Managers include them in their team calls, VP’s include them in announcements and marketing plans. You can also find opportunities like contests, spiffs or a formal comp plan that motivates and rewards your service team members for spotting customer leads and helping drive the retention rate. Far from being annoyed at a low-down, dirty sales conversation with someone they trust for support, educators appreciate tips on how to take advantage of special offers or solve more issues with a product they enjoy.
Specialization of sales and service is not only necessary as your B2E grows, it’s critical. Just remember to build intra-team communication and cross-train. If you can eliminate silos as you specialize, every customer will feel like they are your first customer!