You all know this: trench warfare between sales and IT. They can cost companies a lot of money and are often nerve-racking. The problems are obvious: while sales based on commissions are more focused on closing sales (quantity), IT is keen to build high-quality systems. You can imagine that frictions are pre-programmed. In this article, I use extra exaggerated metaphors to better show the scenario.

Sales and IT often have conflicting goals

Agility in sales is not a solution #agilerVertrieb

One solution may be that you simply want to use agile methods in sales. I’ve been called to this many times lately and asked how to build an agile sales. I hear phrases like: “Our sales should become more agile” and from baffled salesmen: “Well, we try this with the sprints, but somehow that doesn’t help us”.

In my view, the perplexed distributors are absolutely right. A salesman is agile by name because he should usually always find a way to sell something. It is important that sales are focused on IT and listening. However, distributors and ITlers are often so different that it can hardly work. When suit meets hoodie often only helps a neutral person in between. So I don’t believe in agile sales, but in customer management as a department between sales and IT.

Reading Tip: Agile Sales

The Solution: Customer Management

The solution: Customer Management department as an interface between sales and IT

A solution for companies that have sales and IT can be the creation of “customer management”. These departments often have two tasks:

  • Operationally, the focus is on the mediation between IT, customer and sales
  • Strategically, the success of the customer is to be guaranteed by the IT product

I have also been head of such a department since October 2019 and we form the interface between IT and sales. Our task is to make customers successful with our product.

Customer “Success” management/service or also often called Professional Services departments seem to be a trend at the moment. I am increasingly experiencing the creation of such departments with customers and other service providers. For small businesses, this often happens from a size of about 50 employees. These departments help customers make the most of a product or service and thus open up further sales potential. This enables long-term potentials to be built up, especially for large customers.

This development is due to the fact that customers have to be permanently satisfied due to the pay-per-use, freemium or monthly cancellation option, especially in the software and cloud environment. Of course, companies will continue to make deals through salespeople, but customer success must keep them at bay.

A Customer Success department typically includes interface and service functions such as:

  • Support
  • Management
  • Project
  • Solution Architects
  • Consultants

For these positions, I often prefer tech-savvy salesmen or former software developers who want a little more management. Also, young graduates with a background in business informatics are often well suited. On the one hand, it is necessary to mediate between IT, customers and sales and, on the other hand, to combine the customer’s business requirements with the technical skills of the product.

Conclusion

The creation of a Customer Success Management department seems to be a good solution for IT companies. In addition to traditional sales, the strategic development of customers can be built up as a 2nd growth factor. The seamless collaboration between sales, customer and IT in this department can also be controlled.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/pfeile-tendenz-gesch%C3%A4ftsfrau-frau-2167840/

Tip: Read my book: SMEs in digital transformation at Springer Gabler orbook me for a lecture.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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