3 Tips for Customer Success and Marketing Alignment

Customer success and marketing teams need to collaborate for a successful RevOps operation. But how and why?

The why is answered by the numbers. According to the 2017 State of Customer Marketing Report, 90 percent of B2B companies acknowledged that customer marketing is somewhat or very important but just 61 percent are satisfied with the results of customer marketing efforts.

The other 39 percent can improve their customer marketing by aligning marketing and customer success. Here’s how.  

Building Advocacy

Who owns the process for testimonials, case studies, and customer success stories? These are necessary assets for sales and marketing teams. But customer success is the only department that can identify them. There’s no simple answer.

Ideally, customer marketing is owned by a small team or a high-level position which develops processes that benefit sales, marketing, and success; and define metrics so the system can be analyzed and optimized.

In reality, this function is usually split between multiple teams. Here’s how to make it effective with dual-responsibility.

On the success side:

  • Case study/testimonial process – It’s easy to identify which customers make for a good advocate, but success teams know the full customer story. Such as how the software solved their problem and what they did to get there. Make the customer the hero for more transparent and open responses.   
  • Creating a customer network – Facebook and Slack groups, help center forums, and in-person meetings are ways to encourage participation and customer involvement. This makes them more inclined to share their experience and refer others.

On the marketing side:

  • Case study/testimonial creation – Once success defines a process, marketers use their knowledge of industry trends and best practices to create an effective final product.  
  • Creating an industry community – Marketing is tasked with driving engagement with prospects. These contacts may never become customers, but they may look to a SaaS product blog or group for answers to their questions.

All hands on deck:

  • Events – Connect face-to-face with potential customers and build brand awareness at a conference as an attendee. Or, organize or sponsor an event if budget is available. This is when success has the chance to present customer awards or give away swag and prizes. Sales and marketing have the opportunity too.  

The ROI of Advocacy

Now that the sales process has shifted from outbound to inbound – the new driver of demand is customer experience. This materializes in the form of advocacy i.e. reviews, testimonials, social proof and word of mouth.

Happy customers have always lead to referrals, but with SaaS, the return revenue on referrals is greater.  VC Jason Lemkin of SaaStr circulated this idea through his blog and presentation, CLTV Isn’t The Whole Story. Don’t Shortchange Second-Order Revenue.



The paraphrased example demonstrates the value of second order revenue.

  • Let’s say a $12,000 annual contract is sold.
  • Onboarding goes well, and support is reliable, the customer success manager guides users into adoption and onto growth.
  • The customer promotes the product within his network. A year later, one referral buys another $12,000 of ARR.
  • After three years, with an average of $3,000 in upsells per year, the customer moves on to a new gig.
  • He wants to impress his new boss by bringing in a new tool that he can show results with. Another $12,000 annually.  


($12,000 x 3yrs) + ($12,000 x 2yrs) + ($3,000 x 3yrs) + $12,000 = $81,000


The original sale accounts for $81,000. About 225 percent more than if the customer would have just stayed three years and churned with no upsells or referral.

A Standard for the Target Customer Profile

If marketers are seeking a particular customer type, sales is focusing on another, and success is supporting a Frankenstein of the two – growth will be stunted.

Take for an example a company selling a project management tool.  

  • The marketing team is putting together guides about how to be an effective manager of remote workers and doing webinars about scaling remote teams.
  • The sales team is choosing the path of least resistance, selling to teams that communicate in-person as they overcome the shortcomings of the messaging system.
  • The success team is finding that it’s easy to help small teams who use the tool daily, but difficult to help managers of large teams put in enough time to be successful.
  • This conundrum is even greater when you throw in the goals and desires of product teams, developers, and executives.

This is a complex problem and involves all corners of the organization. The first steps of the solution both involve transparency.  

Data centralization. Data is the opinion killer. Don’t let departments or long-tenured employees act on assumptions about what is or isn’t successful. Use proprietary or SaaS tools so every employee can access data and view it in an actionable way.

Customer Transparency. That Fortune 500 company finally signed the dotted line. The sales teams high five, marketing feels like their campaign is coming to fruition, and the CEO sends out a gif-laced email. But in reality, they weren’t a good customer fit. Churn will rear it’s ugly head eventually, but the takeaway may be amiss company-wide.

All teams should get the good and bad when it comes to customer usage and feedback. This can be done via email, all-hands meeting, Slack, etc. Regardless, just as successful customers provide an opportunity to boost morale and productivity, there is ample opportunity to learn from poor fit customers.


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