As an effective sales professional, you can’t just close the book on clients after they’ve signed the deal, even if the bulk of the work then shifts to other departments.
How your team executes the post-sale experience has important implications for the company as a whole, as well as your relationship with the customer.
What occurs during this phase can result in the customer being even more satisfied than before (including with their experience during the sales process), or it can derail what was otherwise a well-executed marketing and sales strategy.
Post-Sale Service is a Fulfillment of the Promises Made in the Sales Pitch
Salespeople are comfortable with the delicate balance of responsibility and reward placed on their shoulders throughout the sales process.
They spend the time needed to perform customer research, and have the opportunity to earn a commission once it’s all said and done. They get to guide clients through the buying funnel while elucidating all of the potential value that the solution will bring, but they bear some responsibility if the client decides not to move forward with the purchase.
The post-sale service period, however, is generally less under the salesperson's control, yet its execution (or lack thereof) still reflects significantly on their performance.
When the team successfully delivers on the claims the seller made during the sales process, the customer will retroactively divert some of the credit to the rep, and vice versa.
Customers Who are Successful with a Product are More Likely to be Satisfied
Let’s say one of your salespeople just completed a sales process in which they performed every task that they perceive to be important at an exceptional level:
- The research was robust and accurate
- The engagement was timely
- Responses were fast and honest
- They did an exceptional job of understanding the prospect’s pain points and articulating why your value proposition is suited to solve them.
You might think you’re on your way to an equally exceptional satisfaction score from this client, but it’s important to remember that the sales process itself doesn’t mean very much to the buyer (aside from concerns such as sticking to a budget and negotiating successfully).
For them, the value comes when the product or solution delivers real results for their company, and this is much more likely to occur when they are well-prepared for the implementation.
In this respect, it’s up to all units involved in the post-sale process to set the customer up for success through proper product education, distribution of accurate instruction materials, and prompt customer service when needed.
Highly Satisfied Customers Generally Translate to Maximum-value Contracts
Top salespeople understand that one of the most reliable ways to improve performance numbers and bring value to the organization is to maximize the financial contribution of each client.
Research indicates that fully-engaged clients lead to a 23% premium when compared to average clients, and the customer engagement process doesn’t end once the buyer and the salesperson close a deal; it spans the entirety of the customer’s relationship with your company.
When customers are optimally engaged with your company from their first impressions of your brand all the way through when they actually put your product to use, they are more likely to trust a salesperson’s expertise and be amenable to upsell opportunities in pursuit of additional value.
Customer Loyalty is Built on the Execution of the Onboarding Process
Beyond simply affecting the value of a single contract, customers who rate their onboarding experiences highly are often the ones who stick around for the long haul and become your most loyal buyers.
In a Harvard Business Review survey of B2B sales leaders, 85% said that successful user onboarding creates more loyal customers.
When buyers trust that the entirety of your team uniquely understands their needs and is prepared to address them during the post-sale period, they will complete repeat purchases time and time again knowing that they don’t have to worry about potential roadblocks in the implementation period.
Creating a Memorable Customer Experience is Everyone’s Responsibility
In an environment of intense competition, the overall execution of the customer experience is paramount to success.
It occurs when the graphic designers create a logo that communicates your brand values; when web engineers develop a seamless platform for prospects to navigate; any time that salespeople deliver a perfectly-aligned, value-added pitch; and when every aspect of the post-sale period is handled effectively.
This responsibility falls on the shoulders of everyone in the organization, which means that the teams in charge of onboarding and customer service have the unique potential to undo all of the good work that came before, or to nurture engaged and loyal customers through the end.
*Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.