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Close Deals, Keep Customers Happy, and Promote Your Success

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how you can work effectively with your sales team to meet customer needs.
  • List some ways to ensure customer success.
  • Describe how to translate one success into many opportunities.

Communication Is Key

You have an opportunity in the pipeline. Congratulations! Now what?

Many Salesforce AEs expect you to run point on the deal. It’s your show, but the sales team can help you much more effectively if you maintain reliable communication. Share your progress with your AE, and make the whole process as visible as possible. This visibility engages the team, builds trust and excitement, and inspires team members who can lend a hand.

Every sales pipeline begins with a single opportunity. Play your cards right: Join forces with your sales team and build a strong partnership. Customers can tell when people on your team trust one another—everything is just easier.

Let’s look at the Salesforce deal process and explore how you can parlay your first opportunity into customer success and a sustained business.

From First to Finish

When you work with a Salesforce Account Executive for the first time, keep in mind that everyone comes to the table from a different place. Some team members have a lot of experience dealing with partners, while others are relatively new to the game.

Team members also come from various market segments and have very different areas and levels of expertise. Some come from retail, some from enterprise software, and some from the financial services world. You’ll talk with seasoned experts who have been at it for a decade or more, and with those just starting out.

How do you work effectively with all these different folks?

  • Communicate clearly, in simple language and big-picture terms. Avoid using jargon.
  • Share information with the whole team. People do better work when they know what’s going on.

The whole Salesforce sales cycle, illustrated in bricks from left                 to right: Customer discovery, custom demo, data assessment, trial, ROI/business case, references

Salesforce sales teams manage deals with a six-step process. If you join forces with a Salesforce sales team, determine who owns each step ahead of time, and agree on a timeline. It’s OK if your sales cycle looks different from this one. Share your process with the team to see how you can coordinate your cycle with theirs.

There are several ways you and the Salesforce sales team can approach a customer collaboratively, to take full advantage of each company’s strengths. Here are a few examples:

  • Hold joint sales calls that include leadership from either side.
  • Develop unsolicited proposals together that feature your solution.
  • Invite the customer to a Salesforce executive briefing. Bring in a thought leader—someone from your company, Salesforce, or elsewhere—and conduct joint demos.

By working together, you invest in your relationship with your sales team. And your solution benefits from any feedback that you get in the process.

Keep Your Team Connected

Once the customer signs on the dotted line, the deal is won, but your journey to customer success has just begun. Here’s where the rest of the sales team comes in. Your customer success manager and your sales engineer are involved in your customer onboarding and product adoption processes, so keep them in the loop.

  • Share your implementation road map with your sales team.
  • Work with the customer on a success road map. What are the important milestones, and when do you plan to hit them?
  • Establish a regular schedule for progress updates, where you sync up with the customer and your Salesforce customer success manager.

Don’t forget to keep your customer happy during the implementation process.

  • Communicate with your customer throughout your implementation.
  • Provide an online user community where your customers can learn from their peers.
  • Take responsibility for all support requests that aren’t related to core Salesforce products.

Remember the customer success story template that we covered in the last unit? This template is a blueprint for the Salesforce way of doing business. At Salesforce, we live and breathe customer success. Stay connected with your customer and your Salesforce team, and keep everyone informed about everything: Issues that need dealing with as well as the good news. Customers thrive when you work well with Salesforce, and happy customers mean cash and kudos.

Promote Your Wins

Yes! You closed a deal! Tell everyone about it. Winning a deal is great for many reasons, but the best part is that one success can open doors to many new opportunities. This really helps if you’re just getting started as a new partner.

If your customer is OK with it, promote your success on your blog, your website, your Twitter feed, and LinkedIn. It’s great to mention Salesforce in these announcements—just make sure you review our Public Relations Guidelines on the Salesforce Partner Community.

If you’re in a Salesforce-facing Chatter group, announce your win the day it closes. Be sure to @mention everyone involved and include #keywords so people can find it.

Most important: Maximize your success by promoting it to other Salesforce AEs. Now’s the time to tell your tale to an interested audience. Ask the Salesforce AE for a warm introduction to the regional vice president (RVP). Offer to present your story to the RVP and the RVP’s team over lunch or via webinar.

If the RVP accepts your offer, team up with your AE to create a presentation that dazzles and amazes your audience. Here’s where the relationship you’ve built with your AE really pays off: There’s no better customer success story than one that comes from a trusted source.

How’s this sound?

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to connect and work with Salesforce sales teams, it’s time to assemble your sales kit, build your team, and get out there!

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