Many people think that salespeople will do whatever it takes to get a sale. In some ways, it’s true: a sales team is so focused on the customer that they’ll do almost anything to get to a yes.

Customer service teams feel the same way! Instead of being in opposition with each other, support teams can view sales determination as a good thing. Aligning with the customer in mind—it makes for an excellent experience.

Did you know that a prospect is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if there’s an issue with the level of service that a company provides? That’s even more so than if the issue is price or product-related.

It’s in your best interest (and your customers) to make sure that everyone is on the same page with what type of experience you offer, and how you make it happen. Your sales and your support team members are at the forefront of making that happen.

Customer loyalty doesn’t come in one fell swoop, either. It’s not just about providing one excellent experience and then letting it degrade. Rather than instantaneously, 80% of customers gradually gained loyalty for a brand over time, due to experiences with excellent products, great service, and helpful reviews. 

These experiences don’t happen in a silo and happen due to the hard work of all teams within a company combined. Every time that anyone misses the mark, everyone is affected. Teamwork makes the dream work, after all. It starts with everyone being on the same page and then working towards their collective goals.

key to success

So, what are some of the best ways for sales and support teams to work together? Read on and find out.

Set expectations

Sometimes salespeople have a reputation of being pushy and bossy—but we all know that’s not the case, right? Sales are the backbone of the company, fiscally. They also are the first experience that many prospects have with how a company treats its customers. 

Out of many companies, 70% admit that closing sales are their top priority. That means, closing sales is more important to them than customer experience, transparency, or making sure their prospects are set up for success.

Sales are important, but not important enough that important things like customer experience and transparency should be ignored.

On the other side of the coin, 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience. So, that lack of focus is being reflected back in what your customers want.

Instead of bending over backward for them unrealistically while they are in the sales cycle, set clear expectations from the start.

For example, think about the experience of being told by sales that phone support is a part of the regular pricing package that you’re looking into. But, when you reach out to support, they tell you that it’s offered only to certain tiers and above.

That’s probably pretty painful. However, if you’d been told during the sales process that phone support was only available for certain paid tiers, you’d likely be a bit more understanding.

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The prospect theory suggests that prospects will use whatever expectations we have given them as their benchmark for performance. When we set realistic expectations from the start, prospects and customers are happier.

Sales and support can work together to deliver the expected experience. Resetting expectations and frustrated customers will be things of the past.

Learn from each other

It’s true: 68% of American customers believe that great service experience is primarily fueled by pleasant interactions with customer-facing teams.

However, 62% also said that a well-educated response to their inquiries was the most important, and only 42% said quickness of response.

That’s right, it’s almost just as important to be friendly as it is to be factual—and in some cases, if you aren’t correct in what you tell the customer, you lose all the trust altogether.

As Brian Halligan and Marcus Andrews said “it just seems to me that in society today, nobody trusts anyone or anything anymore. We’re in a sort of a crisis of trust[…]a trust vacuum.”

The best way to break out of that trust vacuum, at least for most companies, is to give customers the kinds of experiences that they are hungry for; honest, friendly and factually correct ones.

One of the best ways to do this is to enact cross-functional reviews within your company. What that means is, instead of just having team members review other team members’ calls and emails, have members of other teams do it too.

For example, have people on your support and success teams review sales calls: they’ll be able to provide constructive insights on things that might be less-than-factual, but also learn some tactics from the way that sales talks to prospects.

Salespeople are outstanding at representing everything in a positive or beneficial light—there are definitely some support conversations that could benefit from that skill.

Conversely, sales team members can review support interactions both as a way to better learn the product, but also to coach customer experience team members on how they might have been better able to talk to a customer.

For example, instead of saying “That’s not possible,” when someone asks for a certain feature, saying “Right now, we don’t have that functionality—but maybe in the future!”

Salespeople are well-versed at making linguistic choices and could coach support people on how to make hard messages a little less difficult to hear.

Provide Context

A study from Accenture found that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. That doesn’t just apply to support—“representatives” are any people from within the company that is customer-facing.

That means support, success, and sales are all included.

The best way to keep customers from having to repeat themselves over and over again is to provide your team members with ways to see what information has already been given or shared.

Try to make it as easy to view as possible, too—you don’t want people to waste their time reading back on 15 minutes’ worth of emails if there are some quick, digestible nuggets of information that would have caught them up just as quickly.

So, for example, sales team members can add notes about specific concerns that individuals express during prospect calls, or support team members can summarize larger-scale issues that impact a customer being able to use the product.

This could even be done in CRM! All of these small touches, which take minimal time at the moment, can lead to huge wins in customer experience and loyalty in the long run.

Get support involved in the sales process

Just like sales should provide context for any troubling customer interactions to support, support shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty during the sales process.

Have a member of your support team “on-call” and available at all times to help with a tricky sales call, or if you have a high-value potential prospect coming through.

Not only does this help make sure the prospect gets the right answer the first time, but it helps both the support and sales team members feel  like they’ve got “back up.”

Tony Robbins writes “a large part of being successful in sales is developing sales confidence. Selling with confidence doesn’t mean that you feel 100% confident all the time – no one does.

Rather, selling with confidence is immediately putting a customer at ease and talking to them with conviction and sincerity. This is not a skill people are always born with, but it is one you can continuously refine and improve.”

Having a support team member on the call gives both your salesperson and your prospect confidence. Not to mention your customer support rep! The sales rep can feel comfortable doing what they do best: selling.

They don’t have to worry about knowing the answer to some obscure support questions ahead of time. Or what if something goes wrong with the product right in the middle of a product demo? Having a member of support on your call helps to assuage those concerns right from the start.

On the flip side, the member of the support team knows that the prospect will be given the right answer the first time—they won’t email in later frustrated and angry if they’ve been given misinformation.

Lastly, the customer knows that they are in the best hands, and will feel like a VIP with multiple people on the call to support them.

Have support provide an alley-oop

In a recent survey, 66.7% of salespeople stated that they have reached out to fewer than 250 leads in the past year. Only 15% of those said that they’ve reached out to 1000 or more.

leads reached out

Your support team members are a valuable resource in providing additional leads to your sales team. Not only that, but they will be qualified and already primed to be sold to. It almost sounds too good to be true, right?

People on support hear a number of pricing and value questions in their day-to-day unless your sales team is already taking advantage of it. We’ll bet your team fields at least one email a week asking the representative to “tell me about how your product compares to the product of your competitor.”

Your sales team is better equipped to handle questions like that and, with a little extra work from your support team, could be fielding a number of soft-pitch sales opportunities.

If 40% of salespeople say that prospecting is the hardest thing that they can do, why not let your support team do the work. If a prospect emails into support asking a call that could be fielded by sales, let them ask a few questions before passing it along to a qualified sales rep.

To go further, your support team could create a saved response to send to the prospect as they reassign it to your sales team. This saved reply could include the following questions:

  • Are you currently using anything that compares to our product?
  • If so, do you have any frustrations with the tool that you are currently using?
  • What specific problem are you looking to solve?

Asking these questions before the prospect even gets to the sales team gives them a leg up and a bit more context to move forward with the sale.

This strategy also goes doubly for up-selling. Customers reach out frequently with feature requests not knowing that what they are asking for already exists.

Many companies differentiate payment tiers with different features—for example, single sign-on (SSO) is usually an enterprise feature. If someone reaches out asking for a feature that already exists on another tier, it’s a prime opportunity for support to refer them to sales.

Conclusion

It doesn’t take rocket science or some kind of secret formula to make prospect experiences excellent from their first interaction with your sales team, all the way through the rest of the prospect journey.

The most important thing to do is to make sure that you have clear expectations for both sales and support during the prospecting process, and that you set those expectations for the prospect as well.

Nothing feels worse for a prospect than wanting to do something, thinking you should be able to do it and then having a barrier put in your way.

Provide your internal teams with context for any bumps you hit in the journey so that your prospects don’t need to continuously spend time explaining what is or isn’t working for them.

Lastly, set up a cross-functional review process. Feedback doesn’t need to be in a silo; each of your teams has unique perspectives and strengths that can help them see things that others might not be able to notice.

By sharing that knowledge, they uplevel your whole company and customer experience. Teamwork truly does make the dream work.

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Yaakov Karda is the co-founder of Chatra.io and a slow coffee enthusiast. When not brewing or working on the startup, he helps his wife with their art projects or explores Tel-Aviv on a bicycle.

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