In many organisations, sales is a lonely job. Governed by their quarterly targets, reps strive hard to achieve their goals, but are often siloed from departments like marketing and customer support. But it doesn't have to be this way. By deploying tools that foster conversations and collaboration, you can align sales and marketing activities and see positive impacts on your business operations. But your relationship with the customer isn't done once the deal is closed; customer service is just as vital to sales enablement as marketing is.
The fine line between marketing, sales, and support
Traditionally, the marketing team generates leads, the sales team converts them, and the support team manages them. Theoretically, it's all seamless—everyone does their job perfectly and the customer is always happy. In reality, though, leads don't always come from a marketing activity, and sales isn't the only team converting prospects. With the rise of social media and recommendation forums, customers have various new channels to engage with their local businesses. Sales and marketing teams are often first responders to customer issues before passing them over to the support team. The lines between marketing, sales, and support are gradually being erased. Everyone does a bit of everything, and to solve problems effectively and build genuine relationships with customers, your teams need to communicate with each other.
Integrating sales and customer service
Thanks to AI and its ability to automate mundane sales tasks, sales reps now have more time to engage with their prospects. What used to be a 15-minute discovery call could now be as long as 30 minutes. This allows the sales person to discuss their product or service in depth, while also giving them more time to get to know the prospect. It allows them to turn casual conversations into strong, long-term relationships. Whether it's software or a dress, if you have a problem with a product you purchased, you first contact the person who sold it to you. In many Australian small businesses, sales people are the main point of contact for a customer, which is why customer service should be at the heart of sales.
Collaborating with the customer service team
Poor internal communication can reveal to customers and prospects that your teams aren't in sync with each other. For instance, imagine you buy an Apple device from one of their retailers. They tell you Apple covers repairs and issues, but you later discover that that's not the case. At this moment, you lose trust in your seller, and may buy your subsequent devices from another reseller. When your marketing, sales, and support teams are in sync with other and align their messages, you can deliver a better customer experience.
Your sales representative's responsibilities don't end after converting a prospect into a customer. In fact, the hand off between sales and customer service is the most essential part of the sales process because that's where your customer is most vulnerable and is likely to back away from a becoming a regular customer. In a 2019 report, Salesforce Research found that 78% of business buyers expect their salespeople to play a more advisory role during their purchase. It's not only during purchase, though. Invoca reports that many customers who call support feel that the business should know why they're calling. When their questions are addressed effectively the first time, 34% of the people are more inclined to complete the purchase and a 31% develop trust in the business.
Ensuring a good handoff tells customers that your organisation is inter-connected and that customer service is a priority. This high-touch outreach at the early stages has impacts beyond those initial weeks—it cements your customers' trust in you and builds brand loyalty. Purchasing decisions are often based more on how we feel at that moment rather than what might be the most rational. And while initial purchases might be chalked up to clever advertising strategies, great service is essential to retaining that positive feeling for customers. Even though Apple products are more expensive than Android, many people choose Apple solely because its customer support is more accessible. This is true of business to business purchases as well.
Should customer service teams incorporate sales?
Many businesses set sales targets, assuming that the marketing and sales teams alone can generate and convert leads. But this overlooks the role of customer service in generating new sales. Have you ever returned to a business based on the service you received? Have you ever told someone else about it? Good customer service can lead to good word of mouth, and that's among the most powerful of advertising. Good customer support is often the decisive factor in customer retention and building loyalty.
Not only do good support reps motivate happy customers to refer their business to others, but because reps spend all day helping customers with their problems, they also know an awful lot about customers' needs. This information is invaluable to sales and marketing teams who are always working to identify their ideal target audience, and adjusting their outreach accordingly.
Feedback from the support team can help sales perfect their messaging, customise their offerings, and close more deals.
And when sales understand support, they are better able to manage customers' expectations. By making communication between the two easy, you can ensure that they project only what they can deliver and deliver with exceptional skill.
Integrating CRM and helpdesk
The easiest way to integrate your sales, marketing and support teams is to connect the tools they use to perform their daily activities. By integrating your sales team's CRM system and your support team's helpdesk system, you enable them to share information quickly and come to resolutions faster. At Zoho, when a customer contacts our support team for a trial extension, that rep can immediately look up customer information like previous conversations with the salesperson, whether they've had a product demo, and if they've attended any webinars.
Not only can the support rep extend the trial period, but because they now have more context of the customer's business process and circumstances, they can even suggest additional products or features that might be helpful. Tiny acts like these establish trust and confidence in our services.
Businesses thrive because of happy customers. By getting your sales team communicating with your marketing and support teams, all of them get better at understanding the customer. If you want to provide the best customer experience, it's important that your customer-facing teams are tightly integrated.