Customer upsell and cross-sell is a huge revenue opportunity for subscription-based software businesses, but many sales teams tasked with account expansion face a similar problem: It’s not always easy to tell which customers are ready for an upsell or cross-sell pitch, and which ones you should continue to nurture.
Determining where each customer is in their (ideally) lifelong journey with your company can be challenging, and just like new-customer acquisition, trying to make a pitch or close a deal without first segmenting customers will decrease your effectiveness.
But don’t worry: there’s something to look forward to in the world of customer expansion. In today’s business climate, we have access to more data on existing customers than ever before. You can follow your customer’s digital footprint to find qualified growth opportunities within your customer base.
5 Steps to Identify Sales-Ready Opportunities
1. Locate or Create Multiple Sources of Customer Activity Data and Start Monitoring Trends
Your customer behavior data is your best tool for finding sales opportunities, so start by establishing quality data sources and monitoring them routinely. These sources of data help you build an accurate picture of your customer’s digital footprint.
Look for the most common data sources on your customers, like:
- Email: Opens, clicks and conversion rates in your marketing team’s automated email campaigns convey intention or interest.
- Web tracking: Web tracking and transaction history will tell you where your customer prioritizes their time.
- Website: Landing page submissions, preference management (opt in/opt out) show you where your customer is interested enough to share their information.
- Social media: Brand mentions on social media help you understand customer sentiment.
- Online community: Customer conversations or resource uploads/downloads in your online community or support portal are a big sign of customer interest in a certain area and can indicate customer sentiment.
- Product: Customer product suggestions or feedback in your community or to your product team indicate involvement or interest.
- Success and Support: Your customer success and support teams have access to health scores, NPS surveys, and CSAT data that can indicate customer happiness.
- CRM: Your account management record shows previous sales opportunities, in case the account had a previous internal owner and prior upsell attempts.
- Learning Management System (LMS): Self-education is a big sign your customer is ready for a call – willingness to learn about your products is a great indicator of whether your customer is happy with their product experience and want to invest further.
Determine which sources your company has, or might need to develop, and use the information to build customized profiles for each of your customers.
2. Analyze Your Customer Behavior and Build a Persona
It takes time to collect information about your customers and allow for patterns to develop, but eventually you will be able to use that data to create a persona(s) for your ideal sales-ready customer. When you're just starting the process, use assumptions or benchmarks to create your profile, and build on that framework over time.
For example, you could start with the assumption that customers who have had recent negative experiences with your product, customer support and/or have many open support tickets, should be excluded from your upsell outreach until these issues have been resolved. Continuing your pursuit could jeopardize future opportunities to grow that customer’s product portfolio.
On the other hand, customers using your online community or support portal to discuss a specific issue may present an opportunity to align a product add-on, upgrade, or service. You can assume they would likely consider purchasing additional products or services that provide a solution to this stated challenge, and consider them current or future sales opportunities worth targeting.
As you gather more information from customer interactions, expand your sales-ready criteria and profile. Test the profile by contacting your sales-ready customers and recording who makes a purchase or who does not. Eventually, you’ll develop key buying signals within your customer activity data that lead to more qualified upsell opportunities and greater sales success.
Learn more about communities and their impact on organizations in The Community Roundtable's annual report, below.
3. Review Purchase History and Budget
When working with your “sales-ready persona,” you should consider the individual purchases and budget of your customers. This will give you specific information on each customer's existing solution set and capacity to make a purchase.
Review the products your customers have purchased historically, how frequently they make purchases, and how long it has been since their last purchase. If there's a purchase pattern, follow that pattern and contact your customer when their history indicates they're ready to buy.
Tip: Budget range is another key point here. You don't want to offer a low-budget customer a very expensive solution.
If your customer stays in a single price point, you should too. If customer purchases start small and then increase in value, then they're likely a candidate for an upsell or an upgrade sales opportunity. When evaluating your sales opportunities, factor these and more overt budgetary signals in, such as comments your online community about saving money for future purchases.
4. Review Current Events
While less explicit than budget and past purchases, current events in your customers' personal life, work, or industry could help you determine the quality of the sales opportunity.
Look for indicators like these:
- Have there been any major shifts in communication or technology in your customer's field?
- Has their company been acquired or obtained investment capital?
- Have there been any changes to their stock, if the company is publicly held?
- Has your point of contact changed positions within the organization?
- Has a new problem arisen from a recent event?
And finally, the most important question…Do you have a product that could make things easier or help them bridge a gap?
This type of opening is particularly easy to spot if your customers are discussing current events or recent changes in your online community's discussion forum. Take notice of what issues affect your customers and find ways to help. The more likely your product is to solve their new problem or make the transition easier, the more likely it is you've found a new sales opportunity.
5. Still Not Sure? Score Your Customer Interactions
If you still have doubts about your sales opportunities, or you’re overwhelmed by the number of customers you need to analyze, develop a lead scoring system. The premise is the same as lead generation for prospects: Use the scoring system to gauge how interested they are in your product, service, or solution.
Here’s a method to help you score leads in your customer base:
- Identify your active customers and the types of interactions they’re having with your company.
- Use those interactions to assign point values to their unique customer profiles.
- Go back to your data sources and assign a quantifiable score.
- For example, leads might get one point for opening an email, two points for clicking on a link, five points for visiting your website, and ten for posting or replying to an online community discussion about your products. If they ask when a new product will be available and what the price is, that action could be worth 25 points.
- Go back to your data sources and assign a quantifiable score.
- Make sure to include engagement points from customers across all your communication channels (see the list in step one).
Gathering data points from external sources can help create a more complete profile with many behavior indicators. The more engagement points your customer compiles, the more interested they are in your product, and the higher you should rank them when prioritizing your accounts or opportunities.
Segment Your Customers Using Behavioral Data and Personalize Their Experience in the Future
When it comes down to it, if you know where your customers have been, you can determine where they want to go next. Using the data sources at your disposal can help you spot key sales opportunities in your existing customer base. Combine new business development techniques with analysis from your customers' digital footprint to gain a clearer picture of their future needs or wants.
What next? Once you have this information, create a personalized approach for your customer. Use what you know about their experience to make the pitch relevant.
These five steps should help you make better data-driven decisions, quickly locate qualified upsell opportunities, and win more business from people that already love your product...your customers.
To understand when your customers are ready to make another purchase, you need to stay close to your customers across their end-to-end journey with your brand. This is the customer life cycle, from pre-purchase through post-purchase. Learn more in our eBook: Customer Life Cycle Management.
Editor's note: This post was originally published by Julie Dietz in April 2017 and has since been refreshed to make sure we're bringing you the latest and greatest.