How to set up a customer for success when they are transitioning from Sales to Customer Success

Michael Roberts

Winning a customer is only the beginning — keeping the customer is the true test. It’s the more profitable path too; estimates say that it costs 5x more to acquire a new customer than retain one. So once you have new clients, retention and expansion should be a key focus to help profitability. 

Retention starts with a great experience for new customers. Customers want to make sure the purchasing decision they recently made was the right one. They had a problem, you had the solution, and now it’s up to you to make sure they realize that solution. And if the transition from the sales team to the success team doesn’t go well, your customer will likely have a difficult time getting the most out of your product. 

So how do you set up a customer for success when they are transitioning from Sales to Customer Success? We looked into what it takes by asking some stellar Customer Success leaders about their experiences. Here’s what they had to say. 


Luke Ferrel, Sr Director of Customer Success at Outreach

"Make the transition seamless. Don't make the customer re-tell their story. Once you have that story, never let the customer feel they don't have a safety net beneath them. If they are a larger customer, set up an immediate meeting cadence and create value every meeting. If they are a smaller account, get them plugged into your outreach sequences with triggers right away so they stay on track and you are alerted if they are off track"

Connect with Luke on Linkedin.


Vic Kasoff, Director of Customer Experience at Healthcare Bluebook

"Expectation setting and transparent communication is critical throughout the customer journey, both internally and externally. A sales to CX handoff should be seamless and baked into a meaningful client onboarding process."

Connect with Vic on Linkedin.


AJ Sawhney, Director, Customer Success at Uptima

"Consistency is key. Ensuring that a client has access to at least one key relationship through the entire process mitigates confusion and builds a true partnership."

Connect with AJ on Linkedin.


Jan Young, Senior Consultant, Customer Success at The Success League

"The Sales to Customer Success handoff is key to setting the proper foundation and ensuring your customer is successful. This period is the most volatile for the customer—this is when they are most likely to become overwhelmed with Buyer’s Remorse. So how do you reassure your customer and set them up for success?

It’s a good start to have complete Sales notes in your CRM. And a handoff meeting for your Enterprise customers to communicate the nuances in the Buyer’s decision-making process also follows best practices. But that’s not enough.

The foundation for a successful customer requires alignment between Sales and Customer Success. Sales is the first to communicate with the customer and sets their expectations for their partnership with your company.

1) Agreement on your Ideal Customer Profile and Segmentation of your customer base

2) Understanding and communicating your products and best practices

3) Commitment from your customer to partner with your company to ensure their success

Without these basics, your customers are being set up to churn—a frustrating experience and a waste of resources for all."

Connect with Jan on Linkedin.


Kim Cornwall Malseed, Automation Program Manager, Customer Experience at GEOTAB

"Implement a scalable onboarding, engagement, and retention strategy that focuses on each customer’s specific needs and is an easy-to-follow path to solving their problem. Post-sale, immediately communicate to the customer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their success strategy so appropriate expectations are set and the sales executive role and customer support role are clear. The success strategy can be personal 1:1, automated, or a hybrid of both. --Gather all customer data into a CRM, such as Salesforce Sales Cloud, that is integrated with a marketing automation platform (MAP), such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud. --When customers are added to the CRM, it can trigger them to receive live person support and/or enter an automated nurture journey in the MAP. --Journeys can include email, SMS, Slack, video, and image messages so the customer experience is personalized based on their needs, wants, and preferences."

Connect with Kim on Linkedin.


Michael Rust, Director of Customer Success at Blackthorn.io

“The handoff process from sales to CS is a defining moment in the customer journey. Sales is responsible for setting the correct expectations and CS is responsible for delivering upon them. In a perfect world there should always be a handoff call between sales, CS and the customer. The purpose of this call is to execute a strategic handoff where the customer feels valued. On the call a clearly defined customer journey should be presented to the customer so they know what to expect from the start. Delivering this call to the customer properly will provide instant value and start the relationship with CS off on the right foot. If information is not shared between sales and CS or this call does not happen the customer can become confused or frustrated and start their journey off in an at-risk place. This may very well be the most important part of the customer journey. Timely execution is key.”

Connect with Michael on Linkedin.


David Brady, Sr. Manager, Customer Success at Zywave

"Know your customer's currency of ROI and make it the through line for their entire story!"

Connect with David on Linkedin.


Mary Poppen, Chief Customer Officer at Glint/LinkedIn and former Chief Customer Officer at SAP Cloud and SuccessFactors

"The key to ensuring a successful customer transition between sales and delivery teams is to have a clear customer journey defined with roles, responsibilities and customer value outcomes at each step. A warm handoff between teams creates alignment around the customer’s expectations so value, along with an amazing customer experience, can be delivered starting day one."

Connect with Mary on Linkedin.


Peter Armaly, Senior Director, Customer Success Enablement at Oracle

"Success for customers begins with information. This can be defined as - Dependable - Accurate - Timely – Accountable, with Customer Success being the accountable party. But that logic won’t work if Customer Success isn't similarly enabled. For CS, data is defined the same way except the accountable party is Sales. Customer business intel starts with Sales and if that intel doesn’t flow through to Customer Success, they are hobbled at the very start of the engagement."

Connect with Peter on Linkedin.


Emilia D'Anzica, Founder, Customer Success Consulting at GrowthMolecules

"Transitioning from Sales to CS requires little effort & leads to high impact yet few take the right steps to ensure a seamless handoff.

*High touch: Sales should be required to fill in the information that the customer has shared in a CRM & conversation with the CS team.

*Low-touch: DON'T be afraid to ask clients through the sign-up process to let you know what matters to them.

Too many companies worry about asking too much upfront - wrong - they will appreciate you wanting to give them a customized experience & content that matters through the process."

Connect with Emilia on Linkedin.


Andrew Marks, Co-Founder of SuccessHACKER

"Probably one of the most critical moments of truth, it sets the stage for your relationship moving forward. Your customer is transitioning to the team responsible for taking the promises made in the sales cycle and turning them into reality. Both teams need to be in lockstep with one another. Customer Success must show up well educated about the account, prepared to validate what they know, discover what they know they don't know, and if done right, uncover what they don't know they didn't know. Getting this right can make the difference between a customer who is engaged and excited to start realizing value, and one that is reconsidering their purchase and feeling some buyers remorse."


Connect with Andrew on Linkedin.


Rupal Nishar, AVP, Customer Success at Netomi

"Build as much visibility into the journey upfront so customer expectations are clear. We have to continue to handle the customer like they are in Sales. The same level of attention and care."

Connect with Rupal on Linkedin.


How do Customer Success teams use CloudApp to improve the transition from sales?

When customers move from sales to success, we've found that companies are more successful as they provide personal content directly to their customers. This includes personal videos and walkthroughs of the product, next steps, demos, and training. It eliminates some of the back and forth that often accompanies new customer onboarding, and allows customer success reps to clearly communicate what their customers need. Drift's customer success team found they were able to do this and save 56 hours of work a week by using CloudApp. Read here how Drift uses CloudApp.

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