Momentum is something you can feel and know when it’s present but it is incredibly difficult to manufacture. How else would teams like Alabama and Clemson battle through a months’ long schedule that starts in the brutal August heat and runs through to a championship game on January 7th? The answer is momentum and good coaches who know how to harness it and convey it beyond the first few games.
Whether it is watching the Crimson Tide or the Tigers power through undefeated schedules or maybe its in the office during your day-to-day work life working to close challenging deals, momentum is generally accepted as real.
But what does scientific analysis say about it? The concept of momentum has a wealth of scientific research behind it, most of which points to a strong dependency between success and more success (perhaps an obvious theory, but the research certainly helps!).
While the momentum theory is most commonly applied to sports, it exists in the business world in spades. Momentum helps sales teams hit goals and product teams release new features on a tight deadline. But momentum doesn’t just evaporate after the sale or the release.
What is critical to remember is that the momentum you build throughout your sales process doesn’t disappear, it simply changes form. We see this scenario all the time as we help support companies in the development of their customer onboarding process.
Let’s set the post-sale scene to better understand how to channel that powerful sales momentum into long-term customer success:
So you sold a widget? Congrats!
Now what? You sold an idea or a widget, which isn’t easy and your organization of course needs revenue from that sale, but now how do we ensure the customer is successful and becomes a raving fan?
The initial onboarding experience materially impacts the life-time value. By seizing on the personal and team momentum of those involved in the purchasing decision, we can help to ensure that your new customers are effectively onboarded and moving towards value quickly.
If we are to trust the research done around psychological momentum, we need to embrace the fact that the purchase was a “success” for your buyer, champion and purchasing committee. Let their success in supporting the purchase of your product or service be the initial success that leads to future success with decreasing the “time to wow” that David Skok talks about.
Its all about the handoff
Like a great relay team, your sales team should be laser-focused not just on the close, but on the handoff. Your sales team may kick and scream so expect this as you are formulating an approach.
What does that handoff look like? For us, it includes a mandatory field in the opportunity in our CRM prior to marketing the opportunity Closed Won. This information should include measurable objectives that are important to the client and that your product can deliver, along with a target date. For your high-touch customers, this is even more critical to ensure that initial adoption occurs. For your tech-touch customers, this information can be used to provide relevant content to customers throughout their journey.
Don’t forget to document it!
If you didn’t document the customer journey after the sale, did it even happen? If you haven’t yet documented your customer journey after the sale, please stop reading this now and go do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to happen in a way that you can measure success over time.
Documenting the customer journey helps you to provide crucial executive reports around the status of all clients that are being onboarded and to evolve that process accordingly. This documentation should include any handoffs, introductory emails, marketing automation emails, calls during the onboarding, training, change management you assist with, and homework the client does. This is typically a cross-functional effort and takes multiple iterations and client feedback. But capturing this journey is a step in the direction of understanding where all that momentum goes once the sale is closed.
Oh, and one last thing
The same study of psychological momentum mentioned earlier also points to a study that found icing field goal kickers by way of the opposing team calling a last-minute time out in critical situations had strong negative effects on performance (case in point: the Philadelphia Eagles iced out Chicago Bears’ kicker, Cody Parkey).
When you’re thinking through your post-sale process, make sure you don’t run the risk of “icing” your customers by putting unnecessary roadblocks in the way of their future success. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can .
— Arthur Ashe
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