Top 10 Lessons Learned Building Best-in-Class Post-Sales Organizations
PeakSpan Expert Community (“PEC”) Perspective
Authored by PeakSpan Expert Community (“PEC”) member, Javed Maqsood (link to original post). Javed is a decorated post-sales executive who brings 20+ years of experience building and leading best-in-class post-sales strategy and teams at high-performing businesses like Algonomy, AppDynamics (acq. by Cisco), Reflektion, Box, BloomReach, Autonomy (acq. by HP), and more.
The hardest part of this top 10 list was to keep the list constrained to only 10 — we ended with 11 unfortunately! There was so much to talk about on this topic. Why is this list so long and the topic so important to tackle? Because post-sales growth for SaaS startups in today’s hyper-competitive market is almost always reactive — it’s a result of companies running fast to keep up, diversify, grow their products and gain adoption in the market. With this reactive approach, problems surface very quickly for these startups. It becomes a race of fixing inefficiencies rather than focusing on solid growth and scale. Companies lose their growth momentum. We hope the insights shared here help you and your team avoid these pitfalls in pursuit of building your own best-in-class post-sales organization.
I. Are you developing leaders who will continue to grow and be able to scale the business? Will they be able to think strategically about the future and plan for growth?
You have just signed a customer after a well-executed marketing and sales cycle. Your post-sales leader and his team have to be able to drive this customer towards more than just a successful onboarding and implementation — you have to establish quick time to value and continue to prove that your product delivers ongoing ROI. The ultimate goal is to drive cumulative lifetime value or CLTV. As you continue to add new customers and momentum grows, you will find this stacking to be POWERFUL. This can not be done alone, however; there has to be a line of leaders who are good practitioners, strategic thinkers, and innovators, with a passion for listening to your customer’s needs. It’s important that you hire the right leader AND build a culture to develop new leaders from within to help scale the organization and make the right decisions along the way.
II. Do you have the right org structure now? Does your post-sales team have the right background to execute what they need to do across the entire customer journey?
The primary job of your post-sales team is to ensure that your customer’s ideal product journey is executed flawlessly as every new logo is added. This may require you to think about new functional roles in your post-sales team (i.e. implementation analysts, automation experts, etc.) that are not “standard” post-sales roles. Identifying those critical needs and building a bespoke team that can handle and field post-sales requests is imperative to the success of your customers and ultimately your product.
III. Do you know what your product’s true value is to your customers? Are you solving customer challenges regularly? Are you consistently helping them grow? Are you increasing their productivity?
The culture of your organization has to be centered entirely around continuously listening to the customer. As your customer relationships mature and evolve, their ecosystem may change. You need to develop programs and practices in your post-sales organization to ensure that you are constantly listening to your customers and responding to their dynamic needs. (e.g. ‘Voice of the customer’ program, ‘360 degree feedback cycles’).
IV. Have you regularly discussed and highlighted your post-sales strategy with the entire company to ensure that everyone speaks the same language?
Post-sales strategy and execution are not just for the post-sales team. The entire company should listen, learn and collaborate on how to ensure post-sale success within your ICP. Leaders have to take a step back and ask themselves “Do we have the culture and practices in place within our company to permeate consistent post-sales execution? Is everyone bought in and hyper-focused on customer outcomes?”
V. Are your Customer Success KPIs top of mind throughout the company?
You need to identify the key success factors (KPIs) that drive your customers to buy your products and stay with you for the long term. These KPIs should be codified, measured and observed regularly. They should be shared with everyone in the company, and every single employee should be working towards impacting and continuously improving KPIs that matter most to your ICP.
VI. Do you have alignment between the sales and post-sales teams?
Once a prospect goes through the qualification process through the marketing funnel, they officially enter your sales cycle. From that point on, sales and post-sales alignment is key. The messaging that sales teams are using should be aligned with the success factors that post-sales are referencing and working to materialize. These two teams need to work closely, orient around the same outcome and collaborate on common objectives together.
VII. Is your sales team learning from post-sales?
As your customer relationships mature and grow, your post-sales team will continuously be learning lessons on the field. They are evolving and tweaking their delivery methodology and adoption processes to ensure that the dynamic business objectives of your customers are met. It is critical that your sales team is equipped with these key learnings from the field such that they can also evolve their sales motions to adjust their pitch for the next set of incoming customers.
VIII. Do you have a community of power users to tap into? Have you thought about creating an ecosystem to grow your adoption and traction?
Your product user base is the most powerful tool you have to evangelize your product, and the best reference to pave the way for rapid growth with new customers. Community-driven adoption and evangelism are superpowers to efficiently grow and scale your business.
VIIII. Have you invested wisely in the post-sales tool stack to make sure that your teams are equipped for success?
It is important to be very deliberate in building the right tool stack for your post-sales team. Most startups either stick with a set of basic, static toolsets which remain unchanged as the organization and the customer base scale. This is a huge mistake. Companies need to constantly reevaluate whether their internal toolkits are built to scale, and probe where their investments can be optimized to ensure their teams are resourced for success.
X. Have you reviewed your contracts to make sure that they are well aligned with your post-sales strategy?
Contracts provide the framework for the success of your customer base. Your initial contracts with early customers during the growth phase will quickly become outdated as the product and the organization evolve to address the changing market and competitive landscape. It is important for you to periodically review and update the contract templates to ensure they align with your product and post-sales success.
XI. Is your onboarding end and customer success handoff well aligned?
The handoff to customer success at the go-live phase is one of the most commonly missed opportunities for post-sales success. A common mistake is lack of alignment and improper handoff between onboarding and customer success. Customer success should be involved during the onboarding phase, be a voice to impact the onboarding phase, and the success factors. That way, customer success can carry those success factors to reality.