Sales Vs. CS

Sales & CS might not be as combative as Godzilla & Kong are, but it's undeniable that there is tension between the two teams. We asked two hundred Sales and CS professionals to evaluate each others’ strengths, weaknesses, and areas of responsibility. Here’s what they had to say:

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Welcome to the showdown 👊

People like to joke that Customer Success and Sales are in conflict, but is there more to the joke? Are CS and Sales at each other’s throats? Or are they actually more like buddy cops?

We’re here to find out!

Who we polled

We worked with Pavilion to poll over two hundred Customer Success and Sales professionals from across multiple industries, ranging from front-line sales and Customer Success employees to upper management.

What’s up for debate?

Choose an argument or scroll down

Topic 1: Rating Relationships

How would you rate your team’s relationship with Sales?
Customer Success
7.94/10
How would you rate your team’s relationship with Customer Success?
Sales
7.06/10
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Both Sales and Customer Success rated their relationship quite positively, with CS being approximately 14% more optimistic about the relationship than Sales.

When asked about the qualities of a good Sales or CS partner, the majority of respondents agreed on the following:

  • Willingness to collaborate and engage with the other team
  • Understanding of the product
  • Understanding of the entire customer lifecycle
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Topic 2: Bad-fit Customers

If CS identifies a bad-fit customer during the sales process, should they be able to stop the sale from happening?
Customer Success
64%
21%
15%
Sales
36%
29%
36%
Yes
Unsure
No
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Nobody likes bad-fit customers, but the reality is that they happen regardless. Should Customer Success have a say in the sales process so that they can help avoid headaches for their team down the road?

According to the data, a majority of CS professionals think that they should be able to stop the sale from happening (64%). On the other hand, Sales respondents were more split on the question, which makes sense given that they’re typically incentivized to prioritize sales volume, not quality. 

While it may not be the best option for anyone in CS to be able to outright pull the plug on a sale, there do need to be opportunities for conversations around any CS team concerns about potential bad-fit customers before the sale takes place.

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Topic 3: Owning Upsells

Who should own upsells/expansions?
Sales
38%
58%
CS
47%
30%
Both
11%
8%
Depends
4%
4%
Customer Success
Sales
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CS and Sales are somewhat at odds when it comes to upsells and expansions. More total respondents across both teams voted that upsells should be Sales’ responsibility (47%) as opposed to CS (38%). Customer Success however, took the opposite stance, with most voting for CS to be in charge of the upsell process.

This makes sense given the compensation structure of both teams. Many CS teams are partially compensated based on upsells, and won’t give that up easily. There is also the relationship aspect to consider. Customer Success tends to be very protective of their relationships with customers and will be wary of Sales disrupting it.

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Topic 4: Clawbacks

Should Sales comp include clawbacks for badfit customers who churn?
Customer Success
67%
14%
19%
Sales
39%
23%
38%
Yes
Unsure
No
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Compensation structure is incredibly challenging to perfect, and companies of all sizes and stages struggle with it.

66.6% of Customer Success respondents surveyed believe that Sales’ comp should include clawbacks for churning customers, with only 19% disagreeing. However, Sales’ opinion is more divided, with 39% saying “Yes,” 37% saying “No,” and 23% being unsure.

It’s only natural for Sales to resist the idea, since it’s their income on the line. However, clawbacks incentivize more caution from the Sales team and discourage them from pushing bad-fit customers through the funnel, which will be better for the business overall.

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What do YOU think?

Are you in Customer Success or in Sales? Do you prefer to let CS do their own thing, or would you rather be involved? Do you think clawbacks are a horrible idea?

Read the entire eBook and see where you stand compared to your peers. Find out which issues are hot buttons between CS and Sales and which aren’t!

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