The Handoff: The Art of Transitioning Accounts

By Amin Akbarpour

Close your eyes. Imagine a world where you move from your current role to another. Or a situation where you move up from mid-market to enterprise accounts. Or where the team expands and you go from the sole account manager to one of many. These are all scenarios you could experience as you progress in your journey as a customer success representative. In all of these situations, it’s crucial to be able to successfully manage the transition of accounts to a new rep. So…let’s begin.

Transfer Tribal Knowledge

You’re a solid customer success manager, so you’ve been logging all your interactions in one centralized system of record (CRM, Customer Success Management tool). That’s going to amount to a lot of detailed history on client meetings, calls, and emails. However, nobody appreciates the colleague who says, “Hey, it’s all in Salesforce, just read up on it and we’ll do the account transition call tomorrow.” Instead, take the time to create a spreadsheet or document detailing a summary of the following:

  • Client Background - industry, products or services they offer, organization chart, original sales cycle
  • Technical History - any major technical episodes that occurred during the relationship
  • Current Health - consumption, relationship with key stakeholders, renewal plans
  • Path Forward - what the client is working on or expecting moving forward

A lot of this information should have been documented during your Sales to Account Management handoff as well as the initial kickoff meeting with the client. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Transfer Documentation

Documentation can include things like decks you’ve presented to the client, customer results tracking spreadsheets, root cause analysis reports, or one-pagers you created. Be sure to provide all of this valuable information to your colleague who will be taking over the account. That way everyone's prepared if the client ever asks, “Can we get insights for our most recent project with you guys? My old CSM used to format it in a certain way I really liked.” The last thing you want is for the new CSM to have to continuously knock on your door because of surprises. Equip them with everything they need.

Set Client Expectations

Don’t blindside your clients with a hastily announced transition. Give them a heads up about your changing role, and discuss how you’ll be helping transition them to one of your colleagues. Set timelines for when they’ll be introduced to the new rep, and schedule a transition call (and this should be a call, not an email, for mid-market and enterprise accounts). Be sure to transfer the client early enough so you’ll still have the bandwidth to help out for a bit. Go the extra mile by showing the client you’re committed to their success and aren’t just tossing them over the fence.

Stay involved, detail-oriented and organized throughout the account transition process. You want both parties to feel like they’re being set up for success. It can be very easy to see the finish line and take your foot off the gas pedal. Continue providing stellar service and support for your accounts and put a nice bow on top of a successful relationship and transition.

Are you a CSM who wants to take their career to the next level? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers an online training program for CSMs. You’ll learn critical skills, while hearing about how other CSMs are tackling the issues you face every day. For more information please visit our website – TheSuccessLeague.io

Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit.In addition to his work with The Success League, Amin currently serves as an account manager for Persado. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who is grateful to still be able to call the Bay Area his home.