Should You Mix Customer Success & Sales?

Should customer success teams have an incremental revenue goal? We ask the experts here.

Zight | March 17, 2022 | 3 min read time

Article Last Updated: October 06, 2023

Should You Mix Customer Success & Sales?

The goal of Customer Success is to empower the customer and the company. Customer Success ensures the customers get anything and everything they can out of the product or service. 

This long-term relationship has a lot of potential when it comes to upselling/ sales.  CS has the potential to be a team to not just drive leads to the Sales team, but convert themselves.

But is it really wise to mix sales and success?

To learn more about the pitfalls and potential here, we asked six Customer Success experts the following question:

Should Customer Success teams have an incremental revenue goal? 

The answer to this question gives insight into the good, the bad and the ugly when you mix Customer Success and Sales.

Graham Gill | Vice President of Customer Success, Maestro

The answer really depends on the size of the organization and the Sales & CS Model you are running. Once an organization is established and more mature, I believe CS teams should have incremental revenue goals. CS can be a differentiator if done correctly. Introducing a variable goal keeps everyone sharp and hungry. I would caution against setting aggressive revenue goals too quickly. Expansion and upsells are perfect goals to push for in a normal SaaS environment.

Jason Van Dusen | Vice President of Global Sales at Velocity Global

No. Upselling should live within sales. Any type of expansion or upsell should be organic and only based on what allows a client to achieve their best. True Customer Success is about listening, guiding, educating, and solving problems while working as one united team. Customer Success in its purest form can’t be accomplished with one hand on a client’s wallet. 

Victor Paulinno | Head of Customer Success at Fix Pay

Considering CS’s focus on engagement and value delivery, I understand that commission may be having a bad effect on the team. As a manager, I worry about the team just chasing indicators that help with commissioning and abandoning other customers who needed help and would hardly bear fruit in commissioning. Having a sales-farmer team that handles negotiations with customers I still believe to be a good strategy. Together with the CS team, what helps to make the goals clear in the monitoring are the KPIs, In addition to helping to strengthen the company’s culture.

Vipin Thomas | Vice President Revenue Operations at SurveySparrow

I am a strong advocate of NRR as the primary performance metric for Customer Success teams as this helps Customer Success professionals to be more strategic in the way they manage their portfolio. Otherwise, if it is just retention then they would mostly be firefighting or if it’s just upgrade/cross-sells then they would become sales. NRR helps balance the two and enables you to truly be a strategic consultant.

Net Revenue Retention calculates total revenue (including expansion) minus revenue churn (contract expirations, cancelations, or downgrades). A good NRR to aim for would be anything above 100%, it means the business is healthy and is able to grow even without acquiring new customers.

Roberta Silva | Customer Success Consultant

If the objective is to position the company through recognized quality, then incremental revenue is a consequence, not the focus.

Your team will want to make sure there are no conflicting priorities. How many goals can the same person or the same team balance on a day-to-day basis? Do those goals compete for attention with each other? Will a customer success manager prefer to put a new sale on the base or solve a problem with a customer?

Ariel Benzakein | Senior Director, Customer Success at Central Reach

For maximum value, Customer Success should always own a number – either be directly responsible for expansion/upsell, or be the primary feeder of leads to Sales.

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