A few short years ago, money gushed from Silicon Valley. For a while, it seemed like tech executives only had to repeat buzzwords like dynamic, disruptive, and analytics—and a deal was basically in the bag. (We’re being facetious, but you catch our drift.)
But with buyers navigating a down economy and ensuing budget cuts, winning new logos is more challenging than ever. That means the entire go-to-market team - Customer Success Managers (CSMs) AND Account Executives (AEs) - needs to focus on customer growth. And enabling those groups to be successful with customer-led growth is a top priority.
Here’s our guide to true revenue enablement.
Top experts are leading the transition to true revenue enablement
Innovative leaders from organizations like Sales Velocity Labs and Demandbase have a ton to say about revenue enablement—and you’ll hear from them in this article. With their voices and our own deep experience working with top SaaS teams, we’re excited to get to the bottom of a winning enablement strategy.
Boiled down to just one sentence, here’s the consensus: winning teams in 2023 are transitioning from sales-first to strategic revenue enablement.
For most enablement orgs, this truth requires quite the mindset shift—but it’s worth every bit of thought, planning, training, and upskilling as you’ll soon see. This guide shows ways to develop a revenue mindset for your post-sales reps vis-à-vis a consolidated enablement team.
Yes, it’s a bit complicated on the surface. You equip your enablement folks to equip account executives and customer success managers. But investing in post-sales enablement has a positive ripple effect throughout your business.
First, a caveat: Before rethinking your approach to post-sales activities, you need to understand how post-sales currently works at your company. Your customer experience (CX) team needs mature operations to justify building or growing a post-sales enablement team. Without a rock-solid foundation, enablement struggles to drive impact.
- What’s the post-sales enablement ecosystem like in your organization?
- How does your executive team view the post-sales team? Do they value their efforts?
- How does your broader team engage and view post-sales? How about other teams?
If your CS team is enablement-ready, here are four pillars for strengthening their post-sales activities:
1. Unify all GTM enablement under one leader and team
Traditionally, pre-sales enablement and post-sales enablement operated independently of each other. But they shouldn’t because:
- Siloed teams create a disjointed CX. Customers may feel they have to repeat their stories over and over again.
- The teams make each other stronger. For instance, pre-sales learns from post-sales’ empathy for the customer. Post-sales learns from pre-sales’ best practices for discovery calls.
- Pre- and post-sales reps share critical information. Remember being a student and feeling like your parents and teachers were in cahoots? Customers should feel like this—but in a good way. Every touchpoint should seem interconnected, creating a web of care and support.
We’re not suggesting you should collapse the teams into each other. Instead, bring them together under the revenue enablement umbrella to learn together and create a more seamless customer journey.
“Instead of being just sales-focused, you want to be buyer-centric. Focus on their journey and all aspects of how the field interacts with customers along their lifecycle. This is where CS enablement becomes really important.”
Try these three tactics for unifying your pre- and post-sales enablement teams:
Hire one revenue enablement leader to lead both pre- and post-sales.
They’ll serve as a mediator, and their presence also forces team leaders to clarify their roles and responsibilities.
Build a “center of excellence” model.
Separate sales enablement teams are inefficient. Each side creates individualized, ad-hoc processes, and customers get pushed through each one. Instead, create one center of excellence that houses all processes and resources related to the customer journey. An added benefit: This model scales with ease.
Avoid redundant customer interactions at all costs.
Customers crave meaningful exchanges—not repetitive ones. From discovery to renewals, all customer-facing reps need a shared view of the customer journey. If possible, they should track each interaction in the same sales software using the same notation. This helps the unified revenue enablement team deliver a consistent experience with zero cross-functional confusion.
2. Force CSMs and AEs to act like they’re on the same team (because they are)
In some company cultures, everyone’s a seller. But in others, post-sales team members prefer to see themselves as trusted advisors, not revenue generators. In a unified enablement ecosystem, your account managers need to be both—and the post-sales enablement team bridges the gap.
“A lot of companies have sales enablement, and then their post-sales enablement-ish roles roll up under each independent function as independent resources. But when they're on their own lonely island like that, they miss the opportunity to share best practices and create scalable processes.”
Try these three tactics to empower CSMs and AEs to see themselves as part of the buyer journey:
Take a pulse check on the current expectations of your post-sales team.
How does your customer success team view their role? Do CSMs think about the broader buyer journey, or do they hone in on the customer experience alone? The answers to these questions are essential for planning your next steps.
Bring in CS team members earlier in the deal.
When CS team members are brought in earlier in the buyer journey it’s a winning situation for everyone. Try introducing your prospect to the CS team right before a deal closes. They’ll gain more confidence in your company, and your post-sales team will be clued in on the “why” behind the prospects decision to buy.
Build existing skills through training.
Your CSMs have skills you can nurture to drive revenue. For example, your CSMs likely already have an in-depth discovery process to learn what a client needs from a product. This is a perfect time to identify expansion opportunities. With post-sales enablement, CSMs can practice asking questions that highlight the value of upgrades or add-ons.
3. Reframe “post-sales” to mean revenue. And growth.
Getting your organization to see customer success as a revenue driver—on par with traditional sales—takes time and intentionality. By reframing the post-sales narrative company-wide, your post-sales enablement team can lend support to employees who need it.
“Being able to lead effective discovery with customers can be seen as a seller's job. In post-sales, people in the CS organization are in the best position to lead discovery and identify more ways to add value for existing customers since they can often dig deeper.”
Plus, when the whole org doesn’t value post-sales activities, things can fall apart fast. Say your company rushes to launch a new product as soon as the minimum viable product (MVP) is ready. But your post-sales people haven’t been prepped, so they need to build implementation plans on the fly. As a result, the process changes every week, customers feel oversold, and employees feel overworked.
When launching a product, you need to be both sales-ready and customer-ready.
Try these three tactics for reframing your organization’s view of post-sales:
Clarify what post-sales needs to succeed.
What’s the bill of materials the post-sales team needs before going live with a product, feature update, or campaign? Divide this list into must-haves versus nice-to-haves. If you want to create a unified approach to revenue enablement, these must-haves matter just as much as the pre-sales team’s.
Get strict about prioritizing these materials.
The post-sales team works their magic later in the customer journey—but that doesn't mean their needs come last. Empower your post-sales enablement employees to hold relevant creative teams (e.g., product marketing) accountable for delivering these materials prior to launch, and if they’re not ready? Push the go-live date.
Invest in resources tailored for post-sales.
Post-sales enablement often gets hand-me-down versions of the sales team’s training. (This also happens when a sales enablement team gets tasked with enabling CS to avoid hiring extra hands.) It’s a tempting shortcut, but post-sales may struggle to connect the dots. Investing in CS-specific resources increases adoption and drives stronger results for your business.
Note: Repurposing content is critical for scaling your operations. Just make sure you adapt sales materials that fit the post-sales team’s language, background, and culture.
4. Never neglect upskilling your post-sales teams
Whether or not your company has had a post-sales enablement team in the past, you may notice that the post-sales team has areas for growth. Identify the gaps related to revenue mindset, and use enablement to provide better training and coaching.
“When you just give [post-sales teams] the hand-me-down training, you're basically relegating the enablement function to an L&D function because you're so focused on net-new sales, that the relevance of the content is at risk. It becomes so high-level that [post-sales folks] understandably struggle to connect the dots to how to use that information in their role.”
Try these three tactics for sharpening AEs’ and CSMs’ skills:
Train everyone to fixate on lagging indicators.
Your CS team understands how to use leading indicators: account health, number of touchpoints, number of activities, and milestone events (e.g., a product champion leaving the client company). To drive that revenue mindset, the post-sales enablement team can help CSMs get comfortable with lagging indicators like customer lifetime value (CLV) and revenue churn rate. These are the metrics that matter to the board.
Coach them through challenging mock conversations with customers.
On the surface, this tactic may sound strange. After all, CSMs have delicate customer conversations every day. But here’s where the post-sales team might struggle: It’s one thing to feel the customer’s pain and another to know what to say next. The post-sales enablement team can guide CSMs to adapt their conversational skills to support revenue growth—while still leading with empathy and maintaining the client’s trust.
Provide consistent training on revenue-building skills.
Your post-sales enablement team is best equipped to decide what training and upskilling your CS team needs to drive revenue. A few common focus areas include:
- Data integration: Helping clients streamline and manage their in-house tools
- Conflict resolution: Soothing client frustrations and finding expansion opportunities
- Managing expectations: Having honest conversations with clients about what you can and can’t promise
- Accountability: Holding clients accountable to their own goals so that they can get the most value out of your product
It’s out with pre-sales enablement and in with revenue enablement
Let’s imagine the B2B space five years from now. The economy has stabilized, and budgets for SaaS tools have grown. But internal decision-makers are more judicious than before, and sales and sales enablement teams still have to compete fiercely for contracts.
Now let’s imagine your company invested in post-sales activities today. You gave your revenue enablement team more leeway, budget, and staff. With this support, they taught their AEs and CSMs how to sell—and revenue multiplied. While other SaaS companies contracted, your company grew. Maybe your company created a post-sales enablement team. Or maybe your pre-sales enablement team just adopted a broader revenue mindset that gave your company a competitive growth advantage.
The bottom line? Prepare for your future of post-sales enablement today. When you balance customer acquisition with retention, your SaaS company thrive in both up markets and down.