Why Customer Success Needs to Understand Sales

When one thinks of a Customer Success Manager, the ‘Happy To Help’ attitude is what usually comes to mind. That is what a CSM is; a multi-tasking, proactive individual who will always be more than willing to help a customer out, drive growth, add value to the company, all the while making the job look like a piece of cake.

We look at Sales and Success as two different departments, where they ought to be cross-functional. Success picks up where Sales ends off. And while Sales might focus on hitting targets every month; Renewals, Upselling and Customer Retention would not be possible without the Customer Success Manager. A Customer Success Manager interacts with many cross-functional departments, building and maintaining relationships from Success to Sales. But we can think of relatively few cross-functional relationships that have more of an impact on a customer’s long-term success than the relationship between Customer Success and Sales. Read on to see some of the benefits of CSMs understanding the sales process.

Identifying And Limiting Over-Selling

Closing deals are the primary goal of your Sales team. While there is nothing wrong in selling your value proposition, a lack of communication between Sales and Customer Success might end up in promises that cannot ultimately be delivered. This disconnect in the post-sales process not only leads to a poor customer experience but also increases the time it takes for a customer to start seeing the value. Unsuccessful customers are guaranteed to fuel your churn rate. Remember to close the communication gap. By being involved in the sales cycle, the CSM can understand what promises (and over promises) are made by the sales team, and they can more easily tackle the expectations of the new customer. Walking into a situation as a CSM can be daunting, so understanding what brought the customer to this point is critical in starting off onboarding on the right foot.

Transfering Knowledge

In any given situation, Sales wants the customers they sign up to be successful, but they might not be aware of what Customer Success teams actually do. Due to not understanding the customer’s requirements completely, a miscommunication about existing product features or promised features can occur and this can eventually become a nightmare. For Success teams, it can feel like they are handed a bunch of numbers without any context. For customers, they’re wasting time repeating the same conversations they had during the sales process with a CSM who hasn’t been brought up to date.

Customer Success Managers can bridge that gap between prospects and Sales by working around features that a prospective customer wants in their software, but aren’t available at that moment in time. To make sure there aren’t any loose ends, CSMs and Sales can collaborate at scale and integrate their pre-sale CRM to send data directly to their Customer Success Platform, which will provide a simplified record of all communication that’s ever occurred between the company and the customer. This forgoes the need for the CSM to go back and forth between the sales team and the customer to rally up all that was promised in the initial sale.

Onboarding Customers

Once the Customer Success Manager has a full understanding of the customer’s history with the company, it’s time for them to come into the light and make direct contact. The first and arguably most important responsibility of the CSM is to onboard new customers and educate them about the product. While Sales can pitch the product to the customer, it’s the Customer Success Manager who will guide the customer through achieving the value proposition.

This is enabled by CSM’s ability to understand the customer’s goals for the product, and by discussing what metrics they will be using to measure success. How well your customer is educated about your product matters because this will ensure their engagement with the software in the long run. In doing so, the process will not be limited to being Sales oriented, and it’s a win-win for both parties.

Many times customers have seen great demos and the salesperson set high expectations about what is possible. It’s now the CSM’s job to set expectations about what is realistic and practical within given time frames” – Jason Whitehead


Selling to your customer is not a guarantee of success. Reducing your churn rate by the way of keeping your customer successful, however, is. Not only this, by focusing on fostering a closer relationship with your customer, you will increase your chances of your customers becoming advocates. This long-term business relationship will even allow for greater opportunities such as upsells and cross-sells.