A handoff refers to the activity of transferring information or responsibility from one person/system/department to another. Typically in SaaS projects, handoffs happen at least two stages: Sales to Onboarding/Implementation, and Onboarding/Implementation to Support. 

Why it matters

A high-quality and comprehensive handoff is crucial especially from Sales to Customer Success or Onboarding. It sets the tone for the rest of the customer journey while ensuring that the onboarding process is designed keeping the customer’s goals, needs, and problems in mind. It can be irritating for customers to feel like they are working with a new partner/vendor or answer the same questions again and again. 

On the same lines, there is a lot of new information learning during implementation and onboarding that can be used to better support them through the rest of their product journey.  

Best practices

For handoffs to be effective, Sales and Customer Success must agree on who a “good customer” is. The best way to do this is to have an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) based on the traits of the most successful customers. Here are some other basic guidelines to follow:

  1. Make sure handoff discussions focus on aligning on what success means to the customer, and how it will be measured. Additionally, they should include understanding the goals and motivations of each influencer who contributed to the purchasing decision. 
  2. Ensure complete knowledge transfer through documentation that includes templates, checklists, sales pitches, any value-selling frameworks used, etc. Here, go beyond the customer’s definition of success and include details of the industry, the company, key stakeholders, their sentiments, and potential obstacles or risks. 
  3. To keep the momentum going after the sales process, handoffs shouldn’t take too long. Documentation and systems around them can make this much faster but a common call with the CSM once the sale is closed makes the transition much smoother. On that note, Introduce the CSM as early as possible. This CSM must ideally be the single point of contact for all the activities a customer would go through during the onboarding/implementation phase.

Related terms

Move your customer onboarding onto the fast lane