Transform your customer lifecycle to drive best-in-class Net Dollar Retention. Learn how on our upcoming webinar.

Back to all customer success articles
22 December 2021

5 Proven Steps To Align Sales & Customer Success Around Value Selling & Success

by Mirah Gocher Reading time: 8 mins
value selling framework

Is Your Selling Motion Driving Optimal Value?

Today, businesses need to continuously deliver outcomes and prove their value if they want to drive greater retention and expansion revenue. The initial sale represents only a fraction of a customer’s lifetime value; if you want the customer to realize their full revenue potential, you have to ensure their success and deliver tangible value throughout the customer journey, starting in your Pre-Sales motion and seamlessly carrying through to Post-Sales. If you leverage a value selling framework from the onset of your organization’s relationship with the customer, you will increase Time to Value and product adoption, leading to more satisfied customers and increased Net Dollar Retention for your business.

In this article, we share a proven 5-step plan to help you build a powerful end-to-end value selling motion that unites your Pre- and Post- Sales organizations together to boost your recurring revenue potential.

1. Define Your Value-Based Outcomes & Ideal Customer Profile

Creating an effective value selling framework that begins in Pre-Sales and extends all the way through to Professional Services is crucial to facilitating a frictionless customer journey. The two foundational elements of creating this powerful motion are: Value-Based Outcomes (VBOs) and an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). 

Businesses at the top of their game understand that not everyone who is willing to pay for their product or service will, and should be, a customer. In order to drive industry-leading retention and reduce churn, Sales needs to acquire the right customer for your organization’s unique offerings. Start this process by mapping your key personas as a joint exercise between your Sales and Customer Success teams; use the insights you gather from these discussions will serve as the foundation of your Ideal Customer Profile. For each persona, it’s important to  gain a deep understanding of their role, urgent challenges, opportunities and how your product addresses these. We recommend using a combination of external and internal research methods, such as market research, QBRs and customer surveys, to cover your bases. 

The second foundational element of your value selling motion is a clear set of Value-Based Outcomes (VBOs). VBOs are prescriptive and measurable adoption milestones that, when achieved, create quantifiable value for your customer. The right VBOs should deliver your CS initiatives to your ICP in a scalable and efficient manner.

To design a set of impactful and relevant Value-Based Outcomes, you need to facilitate a tight-knit collaboration with all of your customer-facing teams to identify the intersections between: 

  • Your ideal customer profiles’ strategic goals
  • These customer profiles’ ‘jobs to be done’
  • Your product’s features/functions
  • The value enablers of that functionality

Once you understand your customers and their business needs, the next step is  to map your use cases and solution(s) against these business outcomes. This approach will make it easier for your Sales organization to acquire the right customer and get them using your solution faster. As you double down on Value-Based Outcomes, we recommend that you develop packaged service offerings to onboard and deploy your customers in a quick and outcome-based manner. This will result in a smootherSales cycle and an expedited Time to Value for your customers, enabling your business to drive NDR quicker and more consistently. 

Once you’ve completed the foundational work, ensure that this crucial information is readily available to your Sales teams so you can empower them to:

  • Diagnose whether or not a customer is the right fit for your business based on your ICP
  • Quantify the customer’s current state and ideal future state with the use of your product. For example, a process for the customer costs X today but will cost 25% less once your solution is adopted and the VBOs are achieved
  • Prescribe the right VBOs that the customer is wanting to achieve from the onset of the relationship
  • Agree to the VBOs  with the customer so that both parties are in alignment before the success journey begins

2. Engage Your Customer Success Organization In The Value Selling Framework

Traditionally, Customer Success is considered a Post-Sales motion and a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is only brought in once a customer has been signed and onboarded. However, if you want to build a best-in-class customer value model, you should actively involve your CSMs throughout the Sales cycle. This is especially important at the Technical Win phase, when the customer agrees that you understand their business problems and that your solution meets their needs. Ideally at this phase in the opportunity, a CSM should be engaged and ready to start the hand-off  from the Sales Engineer (SE) to Customer Success team. When you engage your CSMs in the value selling process, you can successfully: 

  • Continue and build on the momentum created during the Sales cycle 
  • Allow your CSMs to establish a proactive relationship with the customer and meet the team early on
  • Empower your Customer Success organization to start actively scoping the solution, ensuring that you have the right tools and resources to make the customer successful

3. Create A Joint Customer Success Plan

During the Technical Win stage, your SEs and CSMs should work together to create an initial customer success plan in collaboration with the customer. A success plan enables your organization to document the outcomes that a customer is looking to achieve with your product, and the prescriptive actions that your teams need to take in order to help your customers achieve their goals. A robust success plan will empower your teams to deliver Value-Based Outcomes at every point in the customer journey, thereby increasing your retention and expansion potential. When building out this plan with your Sales and Customer Success teams, pose the following questions:

  • How do we translate the value we’re selling into our success plans? 
  • How do we align our technology and its associated capabilities to address the customer’s desired outcomes? 
  • What are the customer’s key milestones and achievements that we must track throughout the end-to-end customer journey? 
  • How do we track and quantify value realization for the customer? 
  • How do we effectively measure and communicate the value that the customer has realized?

4. Integrate Your Systems To Streamline Processes

One of the biggest challenges that leaders face when attempting to implement a value selling framework is the disparate systems used by the various customer-facing teams and the lack of interconnectivity between them. To prevent this from happening, provide your Pre- and Post-Sales teams with easy-to-use interfaces that are readily accessible to both teams and seamlessly integrate between your various systems. Start by defining and capturing your VBOs in a value management platform in the Sales cycle (either through existing CRMs or in technologies like MetaCX, DecisionLink or Ecosystems). Next, define your success plans in a Customer Lifecycle Management platform, such as Gainsight, to enable collaboration on your customers’ VBOs, provide a comprehensive 360-view of account health, and accurately measure customer value realization.  

Nirvana is achieved when you enable an uninterrupted flow of information between your systems and automatically transfer valuable materials and assets from Sales (such as Value-based outcomes and success metrics) to your Customer Success technology platform. By ensuring that all of this crucial information is openly shared between teams, you will save your organization copious amounts of time by reducing manual tasks and digitizing the handoff between Pre- and Post-Sales and get your customers to value faster.

5. Lead With Organizational Change Management

Organizational change management is one of the most critical components of a successful  value selling framework; without a clear plan to ensure the desired change is put into effect, your initiative is at high risk of failure.To get ahead of this, you need a thorough change management process that clearly communicates the new mandate and mission to your Pre-Sales and Post-Sales organizations. It’s essential to communicate the ‘why’ of the change clearly and effectively from the get-go; simply, your communications should outline  why the change is happening; what’s in it for your organization as a whole, your customers and each team specifically; and how the change is going to make everyone’s  jobs easier to  deliver more value in the long run. As with any change, it will take time for your organization to understand and adopt a new way of working and engaging with customers. Be compassionate and passionate with the transition, and don’t be surprised or discouraged if it takes time to start realizing the benefits of your model. 

One especially important aspect  of successful change management is feedback. In order to keep progressing, you should be collecting feedback and checking in with your team and customers regularly. By gathering this valuable insight from both quantitative and qualitative measures, you can reach a data-driven conclusion about what’s working well and what needs to be improved to strengthen your value selling framework. Closing the feedback loop is a necessary step in improving your process because it’s a dynamic motion – your customers and the market  are continuously changing, and therefore, you need to continuously measure your program and evaluate its impact to ensure organizational and operational efficiency.

Unite Your Organization Around A Robust Value Selling Framework

Value is the new currency of the subscription economy . By creating a collaborative environment  between Sales & CS, you will push your organization to drive greater customer value and, ultimately, higher retention and expansion for your business. 

Are your outcomes delivering maximum value? Follow these 4 essential steps to create a seamless outcome verification process that enables your organization to drive meaningful and measurable customer outcomes.

Mirah Gocher

Mirah is our team's Marketing Manager. With a creative and data-driven mindset, Mirah helps lead Valuize's marketing efforts to deliver meaningful results for our company, clients, partners, and stakeholders.