My blog post, Seven Requirements for Successful Up-selling, outlines what you need to know to be successful at up-selling to your customers. The data indicates that SaaS providers who are successful at up-selling have lower selling costs for those up-sells and higher growth rates. Intuitively it makes sense, up-sells are easier sales because they are to existing customers and therefore less expensive.
In this blog I’ll cover the fifth requirement, that you have the right information to be successful at up-selling.
The first area of required information is basic customer information. You need to know who is using your products, who is a champion of your products and who bought your products including their names, contact information and their position. You need to have this information for all of your significant customers.
Secondly, you need a good understanding of the products that the customer purchased from you including the quantity of licenses, the actual usage of the products, the contractual terms and the renewal date. In understanding the actual usage it’s ideal to know not just that the product is used but how often it’s used and what features are used. With a SaaS offering there is the opportunity to get this information but some thought needs to go into exactly what analytical information is needed and this will depend on the specific application.
Third, you need to have a good understanding of your customer’s strategy and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The best way to get this information is through regular conversations with the right people. The business strategy likely won’t come from the users of the product, so executive and other conversations will need to occur. A good way to structure these conversations is with quarterly business reviews. The important focus here is to understand your customer’s strategy and KPIs so you can understand how your products can help them achieve their goals.
Fourth you need to understand some of the possible negative views that your customer has about your product. You can often get this information from resolved and outstanding customer support issues, any information about competitor’s actions in the account and customer survey feedback.
From the above you can then develop an account plan outlining the opportunities for your product in the account and prioritize those opportunities. These opportunities could be expanded use of the product to other business groups, upgraded use of your product using more features (this is where the importance of product structure comes in) or increased use of the product in cases such as revenue sharing or transaction based pricing. There is also the opportunity to sell additional products from your portfolio.
Without the right information it’s very difficult to develop the account plans, both tactical and strategic, that are needed to have a disciplined approach to growth of the account through successful up-selling. These account plans provide the road map of how to successfully up-sell to your customer.