Siloed departments spell trouble for customer retention. While 95% of B2B SaaS companies have customer success (CS) teams, seamless customer experiences demand cross-functional harmony. Sales, marketing, and CS must collaborate and align as one revenue team to anticipate industry shifts. Shatter the walls between these departments, or watch churn skyrocket.

One industry shift gaining a lot of traction? Investing in customer-led growth. Protecting revenue and driving expansion of your customer base with upsell and cross-sell motions is the new path to sustainable business growth. Collective touchpoints across marketing, sales, and CS hold the key to unlocking value and desired outcomes for customers across each stage of the customer lifecycle. 

The three-legged stool approach

By mapping the full pre- and post-sale customer journey, businesses ensure every interaction delivers value and captures revenue. Think of the process as a three-legged stool approach. 

A strong, stable stool requires three solid, interconnected legs to remain upright. Likewise, businesses building a customer-centric culture need tightly aligned revenue team: sales, CS, and marketing. One shorter or weaker leg makes the stool wobbly and unstable. Similarly, one misaligned team increases the likelihood that customers will have an inconsistent, shaky experience, leading to increased churn.

Take, for example, a common CS handoff, where the deal closes, the client signs the contract, and sales hands the account to someone else who checks in — but only occasionally. During an abrupt handoff of the customer, the experience unravels.

Sales, CS, and marketing must work together to deliver a smoother, more collaborative journey, maximise customer lifetime value, and drive expansion opportunities. Marketers — the experts in honing customer beliefs, needs, and messaging that resonates — are well-positioned to build this critical alignment. Marketing can be responsible for channeling those insights through the customer experience and acting as a catalyst for fostering a more unified revenue team—at the same time ensuring the product experience matches expectations and drives demand. 

Why the disconnect? 

Traditionally structured sales and CS teams are often isolated from each other. Sales targets customers and closes deals; CS often suffers from the misperception that they focus on “making the customer happy.” These siloed departments (who haven’t communicated the nuances of each client across teams) often leave customers grappling with subpar handoffs and conflicting points of contact.

Unified revenue teams should think of sales not as the finish line but as the starting point of a lengthy journey. The revenue team’s main goal is no longer just to close a deal but to partner with the customer to align around their desired business outcomes and guarantee their long-term success. 

To evolve from hand-off to hand-in-hand, businesses shouldn’t overlook marketing’s role in shaping the customer experience and generating demand throughout that process. With feet planted firmly on both sides of the customer journey, marketing can connect sales and CS to create an infinite loop of lifetime customer value and revenue growth. 

How to create an infinite loop of lifetime customer value

Marketing has a significant opportunity to unify the revenue team, as over half of CS teams seek to improve their relationships with sales departments. With their expertise in customer insights and value, driving pipeline, community, content, product marketing, and brand experience, marketers can usher in a new era of pre- and post-sale collaborative success by:

Fostering a joint mindset around community 

A common fallacy is that only CS owns the customer community for an organization, but in reality, community is a cross-functional construct. Businesses can assign community-related tasks to functions based on core expertise and responsibility. For example, marketing can assist CS in owning elements of enablement, content and product materials, communication, and generating brand awareness in increase community subscribers and engagement. 

Implementing shared CRM and customer data systems 

Information equals power, and siloed data equals wasted potential. To foster transparency and facilitate smoother handoffs between teams, marketing, sales, and CS all need access to the same customer data and insights. Marketing can push for CS software to sit at the center of the enterprise stack, integrating with functional partners and their systems. Enabling shared data, like health scores, product adoption, and voice-of-customer (VOC) data, empowers everyone across the customer lifecycle to tailor their interactions based on the complete customer picture. 

Developing unified customer journeys 

Only 55% of enterprise marketers agree that they provide customers with a consistent experience across their journey. Companies lacking a cohesive journey map introduce an unstable foundation for a disjointed and inconsistent experience. Cross-functional leaders should work together to create, own, and revisit journey maps on a recurring basis to test and iterate as needed. Cross-functional accountability promotes a connection at each dynamic touchpoint.

Creating feedback loops 

Communication shouldn’t flow in one direction. Businesses should ditch the traditional linear sales funnel in favor of the bow tie. The left “loop” represents the initial acquisition phase and focuses on attracting, engaging, and converting potential customers. The right “loop” shifts the attention to the post-purchase journey, emphasizing customer retention, adoption, and expansion strategies. 

Customer marketing acts as the knot in the middle, preventing gaps between the buyer and customer journey. An endless loop enables sales to share insights from prospect meetings with the CS team to improve service—and with marketing to improve messaging, product marketing and enablement activities. CS teams can alert sales to upsell opportunities or identify risk factors that might lead to churn or other problems.

Promoting customer-centric values

Businesses shifting the focus from departmental metrics to customer needs and lifetime value promote a culture of customer understanding. All stakeholders can make decisions informed by the customer’s desired outcomes and engagement along the entire journey. Marketing can lead this shift by researching customer pain points, creating content to address customer pain points and help them reach their goals, and testing messages and optimizing campaigns to see which resonates with target audiences. A shared value system becomes the foundation for aligning priorities and ensuring every interaction contributes to building lasting customer relationships. 

Developing collaborative onboarding and training programs 

CS and sales can lean on product marketing to support onboarding and training content that allows people from each team to learn from each other, build empathy, and align their perspectives. Shared training ensures each team understands the other’s roles by fostering a unified understanding of the customer journey.

Final thoughts

The customer journey isn’t stagnant — it’s constantly shifting, with new digital touchpoints sprouting daily. The old notion of CS single-handedly owning the customer journey no longer holds true. Now, crafting and delivering an exceptional customer experience demands a cross-functional team effort.

Marketing, sales, and CS must collaborate as interconnected partners and one revenue team. Strengthened by marketing’s overlap, this unified coalition swaps fragmented hand-offs for a shared feedback loop where insights circulate freely and the customers’ goal is the northstar. Together, the teams can actively build a seamless, consistent path. The customer experience belongs to the whole company, not a solo department.

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