Pods in Customer Success vs. Sales: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Pods, a collaborative team structure, have been around for several years but have become increasingly popular in both Customer Success (CS) and Sales, especially as the former has become even more efficiency-focused in the past year.

While Pods share some similarities between Sales and Customer Success, their core objectives and functionalities differ based on the stage of the customer journey they address.

Here’s a breakdown comparing and contrasting Pods in CS and Sales:

Similarities of Pods in Customer Success vs. Sales

  • Cross-functional Teams: Both CS and Sales Pods consist of members with complementary skill sets working towards a common goal. In CS, this might include CSMs, onboarding specialists, and technical experts. Sales Pods often include Sales Development Reps (SDRs), Account Executives (AEs), and Solution Architects.
  • Improved Collaboration: Pods foster better communication and collaboration within the team. This allows for a more holistic understanding of customer needs and facilitates a seamless handoff between stages (pre-sales to post-sales).
  • Shared Knowledge and Expertise: Team members within a Pod share knowledge and expertise, ensuring customers receive the best possible support or solution.

Differences between Customer Success and Sales Pods

The Pod Objective:

  • CS Pods: Focus on maximizing customer success and retention by ensuring customers achieve their Desired Outcome and derive ongoing value from the product.
  • Sales Pods: Focus on driving sales growth by acquiring new customers and upselling/cross-selling existing ones.

Customer Focus (or lack thereof)

  • CS Pods: Typically dedicated to a specific set of accounts (Account-Based Pods) or customer segments (Skill-Based Pods) with established relationships.
  • Sales Pods: Can be structured geographically, by industry, or by product line, with a focus on acquiring new leads and nurturing them through the sales funnel.

Measures of Success

  • CS Pods: Track metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), and customer lifetime value (CLTV) to measure success.
  • Sales Pods: Track metrics like conversion rates, average deal size, and quota attainment to measure success.

Customer Interaction Cadence:

  • CS Pods: Engage with customers regularly, with the frequency depending on the customer segment’s AX (Appropriate Experience) needs. This may involve a mix of proactive and reactive interactions.
  • Sales Pods: Interact with potential customers during the sales cycle, with a focus on qualifying leads and closing deals. The cadence is typically more frequent during the initial stages of the sales cycle.

Overall Approach for Pods

  • CS Pods: Take a long-term, relationship-oriented approach focused on building trust and advocacy.
  • Sales Pods: Take a shorter-term, results-oriented approach focused on efficiently qualifying leads and closing deals.

So are Sales and CS Pods different?

While both CS and Sales Pods leverage collaboration and shared expertise to achieve their goals, their core functions and success metrics differ based on the customer journey stage they address. 

CS Pods focus on nurturing existing relationships and ensuring long-term customer success, while Sales Pods are laser-focused on acquiring new customers and driving revenue growth.

About Lincoln Murphy

I invented Customer Success. I focus primarily on Customer Engagement. Learn more about me here.