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Most organizations have very defined teams and delineated roles. There’s the service, the sales, and the marketing teams. There are specific territories and regions. There are the leaders, running the gamut from chief revenue officer to regional and executive vice presidents.

While all these hierarchies and segmentation are important internally, the customer couldn’t care less about those things. They don’t care if they’re talking to an account executive, a regional manager, or a customer support rep. Why? If they have an issue or are trying to accomplish something in their business, they just want to get the help and value they need — no matter the source.

Of course, depending on the problem or challenge, the correct source of information can swing wildly. Sometimes sales might be the best first step; other times, service is the right spot. But to truly provide the value that customers are looking for, now more than ever, sales and service need to be working in conjunction. They can no longer be on opposite ends of the company’s spectrum; they truly need to work together.

It’s strange to me that we still rely on a sales kickoff and solely focus on the strategy and training that need to happen for the sales team. It’s time to make it a “customer kickoff” and bring everyone together: sales, service, business development, marketing, and more. It’s all about how everyone can work together to provide value to the customer.

Having previously done this new form of a customer kickoff, I found that we could formally break down barriers. We created cross-functional breakout teams with account executives, service consultants, solution architects, and others. Getting everyone in one room, to engage and interact personally and professionally, helps break down the silos that so often exist.

It’s incredibly effective to create mutual respect for the craft that each person practices. A service or marketing rep can understand that the salesperson isn’t just about closing deals and making money. Instead, there’s a personal interaction to draw on: “Oh, I know her. We were on the same breakout session at kickoff. And I know she's not just trying to close this deal, but really has the customer's best interest at heart." Fostering these relationships does wonders for removing the tension that sometimes develops across teams, replacing apprehension with respect. It’s a great step toward developing personal and professional relationships between service, sales, and the organization at large.

Developing your ideal customer profile is one of the most important steps for a company — and one of the most overlooked. Take the time to determine who you want to sell to and support. Make a concrete plan of who they are and their characteristics. And keep in mind that those who are buying aren’t always the ones consuming your product or service. Uncover the end users for your product or service because that’s where you need to provide value.

Creating the ideal customer profile can be a very inclusive experience where sales and service can lend their expertise. This can be as simple as a Google doc where both teams can collaborate and share their ideas. When it’s completed, you’ll have a shared blueprint for sales and service to know who, what, why, and how they are selling or supporting.

During the end-to-end customer journey, you’re launching many buyer journeys. They could be with sales or service, or both. They’re all variations that are part of the primary flow. Viewing it this way really helps link sales and service together. If everyone understands the larger context of the customer journey, then they know how to play off of each other.

Putting growth-oriented customer success managers in place is an important component. They are the boots on the ground, seeing all the other opportunities that they can feed back to sales or service. They’re finding the next opportunity to bring the account executive back in or where there’s a need to provide more support with the service department.

There will always be a push-and-pull of who plays the primary role in the buyer’s journey. But it’s important to place an emphasis on how sales and service can become designated partners within the shared context of the entire journey.

If [customers] have an issue or are trying to accomplish something in their business, they just want to get the help and value they need — no matter the source.”

Travis Bryant | Executive-in-Residence, Redpoint Ventures
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