You all know it: trench warfare between sales and IT. They can cost businesses a lot of money and are often nerve-wracking. The problems are obvious: While sales based on commissions are more aimed at closing sales (quantity), IT is careful to build high-quality systems. You can imagine that friction is inevitable. In this article I use exaggerated metaphors to better show the scenario.
Agility in sales is not a solution #agile sales
One solution can be that you simply want to use agile methods in sales. I’ve been called a lot lately and asked how to set up agile sales. I hear sentences from managers like: “Our sales department should become more agile” and from clueless salespeople: “Well, we’re trying to do that with the sprints, but somehow that doesn’t bring us anything”.
The perplexed salespeople are absolutely right in my opinion. A salesperson is inherently agile because he should usually always find a way to sell something. It is important that sales approach IT and that you listen to each other. However, salespeople and IT staff are often so different that it can hardly work. When a suit meets a hoodie, often only a neutral person helps. So I don’t believe in agile sales but in customer management as a department between sales and IT.
Reading tip: Agile sales
The solution: customer management
A solution for companies that have sales and IT at their disposal can be the establishment of a “Customer Management”. These departments often have two tasks:
- Operationally, the focus is on mediating between IT, customers and sales
- Strategically, the customer’s success should be guaranteed by the IT product
I have also been the head of such a department since October 2019 and we are the interface between IT and sales. Our job is to make customers successful with our product.
Customer “Success” Management / Service or also often called Professional Services departments seem to be a trend right now. I see more and more such departments being set up with customers and other service providers. In small companies, this often happens from a size of approx. 50 employees. These departments help customers to use a product or service optimally and thus to open up further sales potential. In this way, long-term potential can be built up, especially with major customers.
This development is caused, especially in the software and cloud environment, by the fact that customers have to be permanently satisfied due to the pay-per-use, freemium or monthly cancellation options. Of course, companies will continue to close deals through salespeople, but it is important to keep them going through customer success.
A customer success department usually includes interface and service functions such as:
- Service management
- Project management
- Solution architects
For these positions, I often prefer tech-savvy salespeople or former software developers who want a little more into management. Young graduates with a background in business informatics are also often well suited. On the one hand, it is important to mediate between IT, customers and sales and, on the other hand, to combine the business requirements of the customer with the technical capabilities of the product.
Establishing a customer success management department seems like a good solution for IT companies. In addition to classic sales, the strategic development of customers can be built up as a second growth factor. The seamless collaboration between sales, customers and IT can also be controlled in this department.
Tip: Read my book: SMEs in digital change at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .
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