Good At Sales But Bad At Customer Success? Here's How To Fix That

Good At Sales But Bad At Customer Success? Here's How To Fix That

Great sales people make great founders.

And great sales people make terrible customer success managers.

Okay, okay! I’m kidding.

For myself, the opposite was true. Mediocre at sales, excellent at customer success 😁

There are many similarities between great sales and great customer success:

  • Cares about customers, relationship-oriented

  • Asks great questions, listens carefully

  • Understands motivation, customizes approach

  • Hard-working, responsive, well-prepared, generous

That said, I’ve talked to several founders who are great at sales who have struggled with post-sale customer interactions and feedback.


Founders get hammered left and right by naysayers.

You can’t sell it.
It won’t work.
We don’t want it.
No. No. No.

In an investor meeting, you have to be ready to knock down every objection.

In a sales meeting — especially in the early days — you are knocking down objections too. Objections like your lack of funding, product maturity, app security, and well-funded competition.

Then you go home and have to explain to your mom why starting a company is better than law school.

You don’t mind. You like selling, being a rebel, and proving people wrong.

Then you have a customer call.

They tell you what’s not working.

It’s okay though.

You are ready to handle their objections, prove them wrong, explain why your idea is the best!

Except that’s not the right thing anymore.

When a customer says something sucks, you have to say, “Tell me more.

A customer says your product is wrong, you say, “Help me understand.

A customer is mad, you say, “I’m sorry. We messed up.

The quickest way to shut down customer feedback is to argue, defend, or challenge.

You want them to tell you the bad stuff.

But it’s a totally different mindset than every other area of the business!

So when you get on a customer call, remember:

  • They’re on your side

  • Humility over bravado

  • You’ll get more if you agree

  • Feedback is a gift (love this from CBQ!)

  • Open questions not challenging ones

  • This isn’t one of those jerk-faced investors! 😉

Yes, if a customer is at-risk of churning, being unreasonable, or likes debating, then by all means activate the objection-busting!

But if it’s a normal customer interaction where you want to maximize learning, engagement, and feedback, then put your very successful sales mindset away and wear that cuddly, feel-good customer success hat!

What tips do you have for switching between sales and customer success? Do you notice a difference in strategies with each? What mindset comes more naturally to you?