Sales Handoff Process Best Practices (Including Checklist and Email Templates)

Sales Handoff Process Best Practices (Including Checklist and Email Templates)

The buyer’s journey has never been more complex… and, at the same time, more seamless. With all the available technologies and tools, it’s easier than ever to streamline any process you want – from data prospecting and outreach to customer onboarding and retention.

That is if you have the necessary process in place, of course.

And yet aligning your sales team (let alone several teams, like sales and customer success) is a challenge of its own. This makes a smooth lead handoff within your sales department and later to the service team a common struggle.

So we’ve decided to team up with our friends at Custify and share our sales handoff checklists, along with the proven email templates, to equip your team with a ready-to-use framework to build your own process.

What is a handoff process in sales?

Throughout the course of a buyer’s journey, your prospective customers go through a set of different steps. From awareness to engagement and later to the purchase, these are all parts of the sales process. Yet some of them fall into an area of responsibility of different roles and even departments.

This is why you need a solid lead handoff process

Simply put, it’s a set of activities required to transfer the ownership of your prospective customer from one point of contact or role to another (or between departments) as they progress through their buyer journey.

As mentioned above, different parts of your sales process might be carried out by different team members or even different teams in your company. If we are talking about B2B SaaS sales, there are usually two separate handoffs: 

  1. Sales development representative who handles the initial engagement to a sales manager or account executive (depending on your sales team’s hierarchy) who will negotiate and close the deal
  2. Sales manager or account executive to customer success for onboarding and product implementation

Of course, there are situations when there’s a unified revenue operations team handling all interactions with the prospect from initial contact to close and onboarding. In this case, you should still ensure a smooth transition from one stage of the process to the next one.

Regardless of the specifics of your sales process, having a clear framework for lead handoff is a must. There are multiple benefits of having a smooth sales handoff process. The most obvious and important ones are: 

  • Better prospect engagement and communication,
  • Consistent buyer experience,
  • Increased conversion rates,
  • Lower dropoff (churn) rate,
  • Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, and
  • Higher team efficiency and alignment.

However, a poorly executed sales handoff process can do more harm than good. So let’s talk about how we do that at Reply.

Sales Handoff Checklist (+ Templates)

Hands-on guidelines for effective lead handoff along with proven email templates to ensure a seamless buyer journey.

SDR to AE sales handoff process 

So you’ve booked a meeting with a lead. Congrats! This means that your job as an SDR is done here and you can focus on the rest of your prospects, right? Well, not really. 

You have to make sure that

  • the lead doesn’t fall through the cracks midway through the process and 
  • the AE is equipped with the necessary information to take the opportunity forward. 

This is exactly what lead handoff can help with. Let’s talk about the key aspects of this process that we use at Reply.

1. Communication

The first and foremost task of the sales handoff process is to notify all involved parties. Some of the parts can – and should – be automated (e.g., sending a notification about a booked meeting to the dedicated channel in your team chat), while others require more effort (e.g., sending a handoff email to the prospect). 

The first task is a no-brainer – it can be easily implemented using no-code tools or integrations depending on your sales stack. As for the latter, there’s more room for creativity. For example, we used to send every prospect a short custom video as a thank you note for booking a meeting. This is a nice personal touch that can help you make every prospect feel valued and increase engagement. 

While the specific template you use may vary based on your preferences, there are 3 key elements to include:

  • appointment details (date/time, Zoom call link, etc.),
  • AE introduction (name and email so the prospect knows who to contact moving forward), and
  • additional qualification questions to help the AE prepare for the call.

While most of the lead handoff process is the SDR’s responsibility, as an AE you can also get involved and greet the prospect personally by replying to the introduction email.

2. Documentation

Another important part of the handoff process is to document all of the available information about the prospect you’ve been able to collect during the prequalification stage. This can be anything from the prospect’s or their company’s details to product focus and the number of seats they might need.

A more formal part of this step is to document the details that relate to quota attainment, including:

  • Date booked/demo date
  • Booked by (SDR name)
  • Booked for (AE name)
  • Source/channel

This is necessary so the sales leader can estimate the performance and calculate the sales commission for each SDR. For example, we have a separate Airtable form to record this kind of information. This makes it easy to track our performance and allows us to see the results at a glance.

3. Contextualization

This is the step where AE takes over the process and starts to get familiar with the deal details. In some teams, it might be the SDR’s responsibility to collect the necessary information about a prospect, but we feel that this background research gives the AE the necessary context to conduct a successful discovery/demo call and eventually seal the deal.

The information you should try to collect at this stage can be anything from the prospect’s personal hobbies or interests to any intent signals they might have shown before. If you’re selling SaaS products, it’s necessary to figure out their current tech stack and whether they have used any competing products.

If the SDR has already had some discovery call with the prospect (or talked to them within the initial outreach), it might be useful to listen to the available recordings or see the call notes/transcript. 


 

If the SDR to AE handoff is just the beginning, the Sales to Customer Success handoff is the final chord that helps you build a genuine relationship. 

To cover this part of the process, I’m happy to give the word to Irina Vatafu, the Lead Customer Success Manager at Custify. As an ANC Certified Trainer and a Customer Success Manager, Irina uses her technical background to better understand SaaS businesses and drive them to success.

Sales to Customer Success handoff process

The Sales Service handoff process is a crucial part of the customer journey. It sets your customer up for their first direct experience with your product and defines the success of your entire relationship. 

As such, you want this process to be as smooth as possible so that your customer can get a great first impression of your CS team and your product. Here are the key steps to follow to create a successful handoff process.

1. Prepare your customer for the handoff

The Sales-CS handoff should begin as early as during the pre-sale stage. You don’t want it to catch your customer by surprise and potentially disturb them. So your sales rep should thoroughly explain to the customer how the entire process works.

Ideally, you want to answer all the questions that your customer might have. Explain why their account is being transferred to the CS team, who the CSM is, and how they will help the customer achieve their goals.

2. Set up a customer information flow

To guide a customer to success following a sale, your CS team needs to be well-informed about the customer in advance. As such, your sales team should provide your CS team with all the essential customer information during the handoff process. This includes:

    • basic account details, such as company size, industry, contract details, number of users, and so on;
  • business objectives and how they’re hoping to achieve them with your product;
  • pain points and how your product will help resolve them; and
  • budget and pricing preferences.

3. Complete the internal handoff

Before you’re ready to transfer your customer from Sales to CS, you should complete an internal handoff. The sales rep should work closely with their CS team counterpart and provide additional information about the customer beyond the general details they’d already shared.

At this stage, the CSM should ask the sales rep about any tricky quirks and traits that make the customer unique. For example, what the power balance in the customer’s organization is like and who holds the most influence. Or whether the customer expressed any hesitation or concerns about your product. 

This is also the stage where the Sales and CS teams should agree on their respective roles and responsibilities during the handoff. For instance, the sales rep should be in charge of the knowledge transfer and reviewing the project plan. Meanwhile, the CSM should lead all customer calls moving forward, oversee the onboarding, and conduct training. 

Armed with these insights, the CSM will be able to create a more personalized experience for your customer.

4. Introduce the customer to the CSM

After all the handoff details have been ironed out internally, it’s time for your Sales team to pass the torch to CS. This is the stage where the account ownership gets formally transferred with a proper introduction. 

To complete the handoff process and communicate the transition to all stakeholders, your sales rep will need to send a formal email. Check out our free downloadable email template below!

Sales Handoff Checklist (+ Templates)

Hands-on guidelines for effective lead handoff along with proven email templates to ensure a seamless buyer journey.

Sales handoff best practices

Wrapping up, here are a few more tips that will help you create a successful sales handoff process:

  • Align your teams. SaaS companies often suffer from misalignment between their departments due to different goals, objectives, and processes. To avoid that, you should ensure a proper internal alignment where all customer-facing teams follow the same customer journey and champion the same customer-centric approach.
  • Maintain regular communication. For the handoff process to be successful, your customer-facing teams should keep each other in the loop. Organize regular sync sessions between the departments and make sure they share their documentation and insights.
  • Ensure a clear division of responsibilities. For your handoff process to be as efficient as possible, the responsibilities of each team should be clearly defined. This will help you avoid a situation where your SDRs, AEs, and CSMs end up doing the same work twice and ensure a stable flow of information. 
  • Document as much of the process as possible. Having the checklists and guidelines documented in your knowledge base will help you keep the process consistent and avoid any human error (especially with your new hires). This will also help you provide a consistent buyer experience to all prospects.
  • Evaluate and review the process regularly to identify any issues and make improvements to adjust the process if needed. This will help ensure that the process remains effective and fits well into your sales process.

A smooth lead handoff from an SDR to an AE and later to the Customer Success team is a vital part of the buyer experience that sets the stage for a successful, long-term relationship.

Hopefully, this checklist will help you develop an effective lead handoff process for your team to ensure a seamless buyer journey.

Create an enjoyable buyer experience – from the first contact to adoption and upsells. Request a demo of Custify or try Reply now for free.

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