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The Rules of Engagement for Sales and Customer Success: The Full Guide

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Rules of engagement in B2B sales are defined as structured guidelines and protocols that dictate how sales and customer success teams interact internally and with clients. These guidelines are pivotal in establishing clear and efficient processes throughout the sales cycle, ensuring that each team member understands their specific responsibilities and roles. Such clarity is essential for preventing conflicts and enhancing coordination across various departments.

Building on this foundation, the rules of engagement serve as critical tools for streamlining interactions and aligning sales efforts with broader business goals. While the rules presented here are significant, they are not exhaustive. Instead, they offer fundamental principles that can significantly enhance team collaboration and improve interactions with customers. The following sections will delve into specific rules that have proven to be impactful in B2B sales environments: 

Things To Consider When Creating The Rules of Engagement

1. Prioritizing Customer Comfort and Experience

In any sales or service environment, the customer's comfort and overall experience should be at the forefront of engagement strategies. This involves designing interactions that are considerate of the customer's preferences and perceptions. For instance, team members who have built a rapport with a client should lead new initiatives with that client to maintain continuity and trust. This approach not only makes the customer feel valued and understood but also leverages established relationships to facilitate smoother introductions of new products or upgrades.

Moreover, this rule emphasizes the importance of empathy and personalization in customer interactions. By understanding the customer’s business needs and personal preferences, sales and customer success teams can tailor their communications and solutions to better meet the customer's expectations. This personalized approach significantly enhances the customer’s comfort, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty, which are crucial for successful long-term business relationships.

2. Recognizing and Utilizing the Circle of Influence

Understanding who within the team has the most significant influence over the customer is key to effective engagement. This rule calls for the strategic deployment of team members based on their established relationships and influence levels. If a Customer Success Manager (CSM) has been instrumental in nurturing a client, they should ideally lead in upselling or cross-selling situations where their relationship can have a direct positive impact.

This strategic placement not only capitalizes on existing relationships but also ensures that interactions are more likely to be received positively, increasing the chances of successful expansions. Additionally, recognizing and utilizing the circle of influence helps maintain a seamless customer experience, where transitions between different points of contact are managed carefully to avoid any disruption or confusion.

3. Assessing Product and Sales Process Complexity

The complexity of the product or sales process significantly influences who should handle customer interactions. Simpler, transaction-oriented sales can often remain under the purview of customer success teams, who are likely to have ongoing relationships with the client. In contrast, complex products requiring detailed explanations or intricate contractual negotiations should involve sales professionals who possess the necessary expertise and negotiation skills.

This differentiation ensures that customers receive the most knowledgeable and appropriate support at every interaction point. It also allows sales teams to focus on complex deals that require their specific skill set, while customer success maintains satisfaction and retention through continuous support and relationship management.

4. Understanding Capacity and Desire of Customer Success Managers

Evaluating the capacity and willingness of Customer Success Managers to engage in sales activities is crucial. CSMs are primarily focused on customer retention and satisfaction, which might not align with the demands of aggressive sales tactics. Overloading CSMs with sales responsibilities can lead to reduced effectiveness in their primary roles and negatively impact customer relationships.

Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between leveraging the CSMs' relationships for expansion opportunities and recognizing their primary function of ensuring customer success. Sales tasks should be allocated based on the CSM’s capacity and interest, supplemented by adequate training and resources if expansion responsibilities are added to their role. This careful consideration ensures that both sales and customer success efforts are optimized without compromising the quality of customer service and support.

5. Visibility into Buying Signals

Understanding and acting upon buying signals is crucial in determining which team should lead the expansion efforts. Often, Customer Success teams have closer and more frequent interactions with clients, providing them with a better vantage point to spot opportunities for upselling or cross-selling based on customer behavior and feedback.

In cases where the Customer Success team has a deep understanding of the customer's usage patterns and satisfaction levels, they should take the initiative in discussions about additional services or upgrades. Their close relationship with the client can make these conversations more natural and effective. However, if new opportunities involve complex negotiations or introductions to entirely new departments within the customer's organization, the Sales team might be better equipped to handle these interactions due to their experience in dealing with high-stakes negotiations.

6. Revenue-Shares in Collaborative Scenarios

Sometimes, both the Customer Success and Sales teams are equally positioned to drive a sale or expansion. In such scenarios, implementing a revenue-sharing model can be beneficial. This approach encourages collaboration and acknowledges the joint efforts in driving business growth. For example, if a Sales team member leverages a CSM’s relationship to introduce a new product line, the revenue generated from this deal could be shared based on their contribution levels.

Revenue-sharing not only fosters a cooperative environment but also ensures that all parties are motivated to work together towards common goals without feeling that their efforts are going unrecognized. This strategy can lead to more harmonious team relationships and increase overall company performance.

Implementing the Rules of Engagemement in Your Organisation

Implementing clear rules of engagement between Sales and Customer Success (CS) teams is crucial for maintaining alignment, ensuring a seamless customer experience, and driving sustainable growth in a B2B SaaS environment. Here’s a strategic guide on how to establish these rules effectively:

1. Define Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly delineate where Sales and CS duties begin and end. Sales focuses on prospecting, qualifying leads, and closing deals, while CS handles onboarding, adoption, support, and upselling.

2. Establish Handoff Points

Identify specific points in the customer journey for transitioning from Sales to CS, such as after deal closure or initial payment. Standardize the handoff process, ensuring all relevant customer information is transferred smoothly.

3. Set Common Goals and Metrics

Align both teams around shared goals like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), churn rate, and revenue expansion. Use customer health scores to monitor account status and proactively address issues.

4. Regular Communication

Facilitate regular meetings and use shared tools like CRM platforms to keep both teams informed about ongoing accounts, potential risks, and opportunities.

5. Joint Training Sessions

Conduct joint training sessions on product updates, market trends, and customer feedback to enhance mutual understanding and reinforce a unified approach to customer management.

6. Feedback Loops

Create mechanisms for sharing insights between Sales and CS, such as customer reviews and regular success and failure analyses, to refine strategies and approaches continuously.

7. Document and Refine

Document and update all roles, processes, and metrics. Revisit and refine these rules regularly to adapt to evolving business needs and customer feedback.

Enhancing Rules of Engagement Practices

The effectiveness of rules of engagement in B2B sales significantly influences the harmony and productivity within an organization. Implementing strategies that promote continuous improvement and strengthen team collaboration are vital steps in enhancing these rules.

Strengthening Team Collaboration

Creating a collaborative environment between the Sales and Customer Success teams is essential for enhancing the effectiveness of rules of engagement. Regularly scheduled training sessions and joint meetings can facilitate this by aligning both teams towards common organizational objectives. These interactions help ensure that every team member understands their role and how it contributes to broader business goals, promoting a unified approach to customer engagement and problem-solving.

Implementing Continuous Improvement

Rules of engagement should adapt to the changing needs of the business and the evolving landscape of the market. They are not static and need regular reviews and updates to remain effective. This process of continuous improvement should involve feedback from all relevant stakeholders, especially those on the front lines like sales representatives and customer success managers. Their insights are invaluable because they interact directly with the rules and can provide first-hand feedback on what's working and what's not. By maintaining an iterative process of updates and improvements, companies can ensure their rules of engagement stay relevant and continue to support the organization's goals effectively.

By focusing on these areas, companies can ensure that their rules of engagement are not only upheld but are also dynamic and responsive to the needs of the team and the customers they serve. This strategic focus helps in building a more coherent and effective team, ultimately leading to better customer relationships and improved business outcomes.


Rules of engagement in B2B sales are more than just guidelines—they are strategic tools that, when implemented effectively, can dramatically improve internal efficiency and customer relationships. By clearly defining these rules, organizations can ensure smoother interactions between teams, leading to improved customer experiences and enhanced business outcomes. As the market conditions change and new insights are gained, these rules should be revisited and refined, ensuring they continuously foster growth and collaboration within the company.

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