Evolving Sales Kick-Offs into Shared Kick-Offs with Marketing & Customer Success

Emilia D’Anzica   |   September 2019

When I started my career on the brink of the new millennium, Customer Success really didn’t exist – at least as a career path. Today, Customer Success is not only the 5th fastest growing profession according to LinkedIn, but also where company expansion revenue is being generated at a faster pace.

According to Invesp Consulting, compared to new customers, current customers are 50% more likely to spend on new products you release and will spend 31% more.

As a result, fast-growing companies like Adobe, TripActions, MavenLink, and Thought Industries understand that “closed won” in your CRM is no longer the end of the revenue stream from that customer, but rather the beginning of a partnership where both your company and the customer can benefit for years to come if shared goals are achieved. For your company, it is an opportunity to further expand the relationship with the customer via more product and service offerings. For the customer, it’s a way to reduce costs, centralize technology, and increase revenue.

Shared Kickoffs are fully Customizable

Example of a Shared Kick-off Workshop, Winning by Design

Compared to new customers, current customers are 50% more likely to spend on new products you release and will spend 31% more.

Team Zygo + Renata Centurion, GM, Winning by Design

Team Zygo + Renata Centurion, GM, Winning by Design

This speaks to the power of companies where alignment across Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success have been achieved; this is where the magic and true enablement begins. When cross-functional teams are able to speak the same language, create alignment, and feel enabled with relevant education and tools, they can work together as one team to grow as a whole and as individuals.

Including other teams in Sales Kick-Offs is becoming the norm in Silicon Valley and beyond, and the impact on organizations has been immediate. One client sent me a text the morning after their company Kick-Off and said, “We have already started implementing the frameworks you taught in our internal meetings – thank you!” Another customer told me, “I wish Product was part of these Kick Offs too, so they can better understand how Sales sells the product and how we enable our customers.”

Winning by Design Bow-Tie

The Customer Journey, Winning by Design

Companies are also recognizing the need to enable the Marketing team, especially around account-based marketing initiatives. Shari Johnston, Partner at Winning by Design, says, “My customers are realizing that “scaling” can’t just mean adding reps in new territories, but they need full end-to-end market creation for success. Sales shouldn’t have to feel responsible for the entire buyer’s journey – instead, they need to partner with their marketing counterparts to build the market in their area and get a foot in the door at those accounts that are likely to be their next customers. Marketing is a critical piece to market creation and revenue, and a Shared Kick-Off is a much-needed step to creating or maintaining that critical sales and marketing alignment needed to scale.”

‘Scaling’ can’t just mean adding reps in new territories, but they need full end-to-end market creation for success. Sales shouldn’t have to feel responsible for the entire buyer’s journey.

Investing in your employees for cross-team enablement on a yearly and biannual cadence is a strategic and crucial investment in your company. If you create experiences for your team where they can learn, role-play to practice what they are learning, and work through cross-functional challenges, they will deliver a better customer journey. We’ve had the pleasure of helping our customers address these challenges at their Kick-Offs – through keynote speaking, running workshops, and facilitating strategic sessions – and the results are high impact.

For example, by working with our client Mavenlink, they were able to see a significant impact on their Q1 vs. Q2 team performance:

*10% increase in Net Dollar Retention

*5% increase in Gross Dollar Retention

It’s not just a Sales Kick-Off anymore; we call this evolved event the Shared Kick-Off

It’s not just a Sales Kick-Off anymore; we call this evolved event the Shared Kick-Off. You can go here to learn more about the principles of a Shared Kick-Off and how to implement them at your event. And here is an example of part of a Shared Kick-Off agenda, for measurable impact with cross-team enablement:

Imagine what you can accomplish if you start including your Customer Success and Marketing teams in your annual Kick-Offs!

If you are interested in learning more about how to evolve your Kick-Off into an event that drives true high impact for your organization, we’d love to hear from you – please contact me!

Blog originally published at Winning by Design.

Customer Experience: 3 Takeaways from Refresh19

I just attended two days at Refresh19 by Freshworks.

Here are some highlights from the Event:


Starting with the Company’s Vision that was manifested throughout the event:

Enable every customer to create ‘customers-for-life’

  • It didn’t feel like a big sales pitch. Often so many conferences do. The event was packed with great content but maintained a casual vibe. It was held at the Aria in Las Vegas and integrated elements of Indian and America cultures – Indian food at lunch, yoga to unwind, BollyX to embrace a big night of golfing and dancing, and Bollywood dancers at the Golf range created a memorable experience.
  • Keynote: Shaq was not only hilarious but also inspirational & real. If you are going to go through the effort of hosting a conference, ensure the speakers complement your key themes and know how to engage the audience. I can recall two conferences I attended in the past few years that were great until the keynote got up to speak. One was reading from a script and the other showed up unprepared and disheveled. I walked out of both. Shaq, on the other hand, recounted relevant memories of his childhood which had us in stitches in some instances and deeply move in others. He also shared his own experience with home security services and going back to school – experiences we can all relate to. I cannot stress the power and importance of storytelling at these events!

2. FRESHWORKS SUITE OF PRODUCTS: I didn’t know what to expect from a software perspective as I have yet used any of their offerings. I received a demo of the chat product and the CEO unveiled ‘Fresh Success’ which also looks valuable to customer-facing teams. Over lunch, I talked to a director at Princeton & another at Pepsi who shared their stories about implementing and using the Freshdesk products. All positive feedback. Before attending the conference, I wasn’t aware of products outside of Freshdesk. They now have a full suite for the customer journey. It’s clear the ‘customer’ is a central focus of what the company is producing and explains why they went from $0 -> $100m in 5 years.


  • Contextual Engagement It’s been around for a while – think WalkMe, Pendo, AppCues & others. If your company is not using it, I think it is time to start. Customers want just-in-time, in-product guidance without having to pick up the phone.
  • Predictive Engagement: Think of the items Amazon ‘suggests’ based on your buying habits and how often you end up clicking on their shiny offerings. How is your company leveraging customer usage to provide additional help and products they will actually want to buy and/or need?
  • Anywhere Engagement: If your product isn’t easily accessible on a tablet, smartphone, iWatch (my favorite) or computer then you are already lagging behind. Companies such as Airbnb, Bonboy, eTrade, and many others have all come to the conclusion that customers want ‘access’ at the click of a button.
  • Collaboration Engagement: When I work with clients, I often help them evaluate and implement technology to scale. One of the missed opportunities is alignment across teams. Companies implement the process as they grow but often do not take into account how it will impact all their teams. With the software showcased at this event, it is clear that employee collaboration is a central theme in their product offering and this is good news for the customer. Being able to pull in the right people, break down silos, and have transparency in one central place is essential when customers expect real-time support.

I am back from the conference excited to learn more about Freshworks & how I can incorporate it in my technology stack when I am working with customers.


A special thank you to Praveen Ramesh & Natarajan Chandrasekaran, for inviting me to be part of the Refresh19 story. And thank you to Mary Poppen & Lynn Hunsaker, for collaborating on this topic we are all clearly passionate about! “Predicting Customer Experience through Employee Engagement KPIs.” I think we all walked away with new relationships and ideas we can start implementing immediately in our own practices.

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Originally posted on LinkedIn in Sept 2019

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