The customer buying journey has fundamentally transformed in recent years. Today, both consumers and business buyers are often well-versed in a product or service before they ever talk to a salesperson. And customer behavior after the purchase has changed as well. Through social media, every customer large or small now has a platform to share their voice. This modern customer journey, in our experience, requires a shift in how companies approach their pre- and post-sales processes; the traditional, top-down sales funnel – one that starts with a lead and ends with a contract – is no longer relevant. Instead, we encourage growth companies to adopt a “bowtie” approach to customer engagement, one that is designed to integrate a sales orientation in every aspect of the customer experience.

Bowtie Sales Funnel

Companies are already beginning to expand the sales aperture beyond the initial deal and identify opportunities for post-sale customer engagement. A recent survey of high-growth SaaS companies conducted by the Alexander Group showed customer success (CS) headcount is growing faster than overall sales headcount. Those companies that have invested in CS saw strong returns on their investment, generating 122% net dollar retention on average.* So, how can your team access this opportunity? Applying a sales mindset to four key post-sales levers – onboarding and implementation, product- and sales-led growth, long-term customer health, and price discipline – can help your team think like a sales rep and, in the process, shorten the next sales cycle and increase the lifetime value of your customer relationships.


Accelerate Adoption with Multiple Options

How many different ways can your customers onboard? For companies juggling a backlog of signed customers, providing multiple options for onboarding can help. Consider self-guided onboarding journeys where customers can leverage pre-recorded videos, in-product tutorials, or one-to-many webinars. Once you create multiple onboarding options, give your customer the agency to choose which path to take. You may be surprised by how many are willing and able to self-guide if they are equipped with the right toolkit. When a portion of your customers successfully onboard with minimal support, it allows you to spend more time supporting those that require more assistance – and ultimately increases your team’s ability to more quickly turn new customers into referenceable advocates.


Product- and Sales-led Growth:

Create Customer Loyalists and Advocates

Product-led growth (PLG) is a trendy theme in tech – one that is often misconstrued as the opposite of sales-led growth. In our experience, however, these two motions are not mutually exclusive; you can lead with sales and maintain PLG characteristics. Are your customers able to see new or unused features within the product? Is your product designed to allow customers to share key insights easily with their colleagues and/or peers at different companies? These types of features can accelerate adoption within your existing user base, create virality amongst your power users and shorten the cycle to your next sale.

Customer Health Scores:

Measure Your Post-Sales Effectiveness

Do you have a methodology to quantify your customer’s health? If yes, do you know if your customers agree with that assessment? An optimized customer health score is a living, breathing, iterative metric that should incorporate both quantifiable metrics and qualitative feedback. Once you know the health of your customers, you are better positioned to create customer champions and a community in which they can thrive. A strong customer advocacy program can be a very effective way of activating your customer champions. It can also allow customers to connect with one another and create user communities, which in turn create strong referral channels for future sales.


Price Discipline:

Renew Your Customers with Value

These days, subscription contracts often have explicit language around periodic price increases. For those companies that have these mechanisms in place, it is important to evaluate the extent to which your team is enforcing them. For those companies that don’t do this today, we encourage you to reconsider. Price increases can (and should) be grounded in a value-based story and integrated into your standard account management and renewals processes. Equip your account management, customer success and/or dedicated renewals teams with details on product investments, service enhancements and other ways in which your team is working to increase the value delivered to customers. In our experience, many customers expect and anticipate regular price increases; you’re likely leaving money on the table if you don’t consider this growth lever.

Applying a sales mindset to these post-sales processes can help improve customer satisfaction, drive renewals, improve product engagement and accelerate growth. But how do you equip your team with the tools needed to execute? Effective training is the final lever that, in our experience, can help unlock and accelerate the others. For many teams, sales training applies only to those team members in traditional sales roles. We encourage teams to apply as much focus and investment to training as other customer-facing resources – from pre-sales to post-sales – with a similar skillset. This approach can help orient your whole team on the full customer journey – and get everyone thinking like a sales rep.

About the Author

Kevin Jeon is a member of Summit’s Peak Performance Group, where he works with management teams to help identify and execute growth strategies with a goal of building long-term value. Most frequently, he collaborates with leadership teams to help expand and drive revenue growth and optimization strategies. Prior to Summit, Kevin was the Global Head of GTM Strategy and Operations at Splunk, where he scaled the company’s direct sales organization from 400 to 1,000+ in 3.5 years. Previously, Kevin held various leadership roles at Salesforce, where he managed enterprise sales strategy and operations. He began his career in Financial Analyst roles at companies including Sephora-LVMH and BMHC.

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