A Guide to perfecting your Sales-to-Service handoff [Free Template]

How your sales-to-service handoff happens sets the tone for your customer onboarding projects. Here's how to nail it (plus free template!)
May 13, 2021
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Krishna Kumar

Who doesn’t want happy employees, happier customers, and increased revenues? The key to all of this is as simple as a concrete sales-to-service handoff. A seamless transition of the account from the sales team to the service team sets the tone for the customer’s journey with your business.

Account managers working across various industries credit their success to this process and the close communication they built between their sales and customer service teams. The consistent effort of these two teams is a crucial contributor to setting up long-term success with customers.

1. Importance of a successful handoff

Before diving into the details, let us look at why the sales-to-service handoff is essential.

a. It sets the tone for the entire service relationship

Good service seals the deal on profits. It also increases word-of-mouth recommendations and keeps customers coming back for more.

This is especially true in a subscription-based product, where it’s common not to make any profit until renewal. In this kind of scenario, it’s important to remember that the deal isn’t over when closed. You have to be sure the customer will renew.

b. A good handoff decides the customers’ time to ROI

Time-to-ROI can be a significant decision-point in large purchases, and the longer the handoff process takes, the longer the time-to-ROI. Good communication and handoff management is the best way to improve this.

c. A bad handoff ruins the customers’ excitement for the product

New customers are coming off the “high” of a purchase. They feel like they’re onto something new and exciting, but that excitement is fragile.

 Free Download: Sales-to-Service Handoff Template

2. The blueprint of a good sales-to-service handoff 

A good sales-to-service handoff is no accident. Both teams need to work in complete sync and develop an airtight plan ahead of time to decide how the process takes place. 

The perfect handoff has five main stages.

a. Pre-sale

Before completion of sales, a handoff happens from the sales team to the service team. Once the sales team has a customer profile with high conversion probabilities, essential information needs to be shared with the service team. In addition, it is handy to provide the service team with pointers that help them prepare for the process. 

The sales team is the first point of contact and has access to a plethora of information on the customer that can prove valuable to the service team. Translating this information to ensure the customer experience is enriched post-purchase is critical. 

b. Internal team handoff

The importance of an internal, team-focused meeting to get things in order is heavily underestimated. 

Sitting in on external customer meetings without sufficient preparation amongst the core team is a recipe for disaster. When all teams are well-versed and on the same page, play strategically to each team member’s strengths. It makes a considerable difference to the impression the customer will carry with them after the meeting. 

The internal team handoff also sets the tone for how the product or service is delivered.

c. Customer handoff

It is natural for all businesses to strive to put their best foot forward for the customer. However, it is the sales-to-service handoff that requires utmost finesse. It is here that you try to set the stage and maintain the customer’s excitement. In addition to this, you also need to get down to the product or service details.

This handoff should be well-coordinated, materials should be shared in advance, and the experience should feel customized rather than the standard fare. This is where information from the sales team can help service teams personalize things.

The customer experience is the show stopper during this handoff. 

d. Onboarding/launch

The onboarding stage is crucial, as this is where the customer starts engaging with the product. Some prefer the self-serve option. Give them a list of answers to their FAQs and an introduction to key product features, and they’re good to go. Other customers will lean towards a more bespoke experience. For customers seeking more touchpoints, provide additional resources for support alongside customized guidance based on the customer profile. 

Preparing for and continuing your onboarding efforts even after you go live is vital for future sales. It helps the customer get invested in the product and lays the foundation for renewals (and referrals).

e. Renewal

Renewals drive profitability. This is where the ROI comes to fruition. Most customers will renew if they like and need the product. Many more customers will renew if the product works for them and the service is solid.

Customers just want to be treated well. So each step of the way, your service team should be planting seeds for renewal.

3. Components of a handoff document

 The following are the key elements that need to be a part of the handoff to ensure a smooth transition and work going forward. 

  1. Basic details: This includes the information about the account executive, account manager, and customer. Name, contact details, alternative contact details, and email of all individuals mentioned should be included.
  2. Contract information: The basic details of the company such as the sector they function in, company size, signing date of the contract, project start and end dates should be included. In addition to this, it helps to have the soft copy of the agreement attached as well for quick access. 
  3. Documents, emails, and notes: All notes, documents, and recordings collected during the sales process need to be disclosed and made available for all teams for reference. It helps ensure the successful delivery of the product or service. The expectations disclosed by the customer during initial discussions also need to be mentioned to ensure that the service team has their expectations straight.
  4. Tools/processed used: The complete list and description of all the current tools/processes used by the customer should be mentioned. In addition to this, the reason behind the customer opting to use your product or service also needs to be revealed. 
  5. Problem statements and reasons for purchase by the customer: The current difficulties/obstacles as expressed by the customer should be listed. Furthermore, the reasons that have pushed the customer to opt for your product or service need to be disclosed. Finally, the features of your product or service that will prove beneficial to them need to be identified and listed. 
  6. Defining goals and success: It is crucial to understand what success means to the customer. List down what the customer aims to achieve using your product or service. In addition to this, briefly describe the obstacles that the service team should look out for and what would constitute a failure based on your interactions with the customer. Also, define the metrics that should be used for measuring success over the journey of the project.  

4. Metrics to track for the handoff

Metrics help you draw insights on where you process needs refining, and where your team needs help. These two metrics can help you measure the success of your sales-to-service handoff.

a. Time to completion

This is the count of days between the customer signing the contract and them being completely onboarded — when the sales rep receives the confirmation of handoff.

The ideal number here may change depending on your onboarding process, but you want this number to be as low as possible. If this number is high, then gather your sales and service teams together to figure out where the communication gaps are and how you can get that number down.

b. Adherence to process

This is the percentage of tasks done. If this is low, then it’s a sign that the process needs to adapt. Usually, when people break the process, it’s because the process isn’t good enough.

The goal is to implement a process that’s quick and painless for you, your team, and the customer. If steps are being skipped or people are doing different tasks than you had planned, look for ways to improve the process. Likewise, look out for specific tasks that are being repeatedly skipped.

5. Common problems to look out for

Issues are inevitable in any human-run project. For a sales-to-service handoff, specifically, here is what you should look out for.

a. Miscommunication between sales and success

It is crucial to ensure that these two teams are in complete sync with each other. The success of the deal hinges on the teamwork between these two teams.  

b. Incorrect documentation of handover process

Documentation is a key part of every deal. It is essential to document all details carefully during the handover process. This enables all teams involved in the handover to stay updated and informed about all vital information. 

c. Not defining each task to a distinctive owner/POC

Assigning each responsibility to specific individuals/teams makes it easier to deliver on time and with precision.  

6. Handoff – introduce the account manager

a. Account Executive to introduce the account manager that will execute implementation and handle the customer account thereon. The customer needs to be introduced to the individual that will handle the proceedings of the deal going forward. It is imperative to establish a good relationship as it directly impacts the future of the deal. 

b. Account managers to formally introduce themselves to the customer and build a relationship with them from the get-go. It is essential to make the customer feel like they are in capable hands. 

7. Providing technical assistance 

 The handoff does not end just yet. At times customers require additional technical support to ensure smooth integration and functioning of the product or service. 

a. Does the customer require integration assistance? It is essential to identify all additional technical tools and support that your product or service needs to deliver the desired results. Ensure to check if the customer is equipped with the same. If not, provide the additional tools that they require for the smooth operating of the product or service. 

b. Looping in the solutions manager for the same is necessary. Formally introduce the solutions/technical support manager to the customer and provide them with contact details. The customer should be able to reach out to the concerned POC at any point in the future if they face a roadblock. Establishing a direct relationship between the customer and the solutions manager will help reduce response time in the situation of a technical issue.

Free Sales-to-Service handoff template

From understanding each critical step in the handoff workflow to improving the overall transition by aligning teams, sharing vital information, ensuring collection and handover of all data, and more; these tactics will help ensure your sales-to-service delivery is smooth. This free template is a great starting point for a successful sales-to-service handoff. Depending on the product, the customer, and your organization, there are a thousand different ways you can go about it.

Still, the process should be the same. And remember, communication between sales and success is key. So get together, create a plan, make sure that communication is easy and often, and you’ll begin to see vast improvements in your handoff!

Further reading

  1. Familiarize yourself with the nitty-gritties of onboarding with our 2023 guide to client onboarding
  2. Want to build long-lasting client relationships? Follow this client onboarding checklist to a tee 
  3. Keep clients happy and ramp up revenue by following an effective customer onboarding process 
  4. Don’t let these common customer onboarding challenges impede work and check out the solutions to resolve them easily 

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Saranya Udayamohan
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Content crafter at Rocketlane. Curating content to make blogs sparkle. A girl looking to make a difference with her fun and out-of-the-box perspectives.

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