Like many companies, you’re tired of hearing the “s” word: silos. Sales and customer success teams often find themselves stuck in silos, isolated away from the rest of your customer-facing teams. There’s an opportunity for true revenue leaders to unlock their true potential and drive customer growth like never before.
By integrating your sales and customer success (CS) teams, you can achieve outstanding results that transform your customer’s experience – and, ultimately, your bottom line. From improving customer retention rates, winning more deals with your existing customers, reducing churn, and even discovering new opportunities for high-margin add-on services, the impact collaboration can have is extensive.
But here's the catch: collaboration is not just a buzzword. It takes skill, expertise, and, most importantly, the right incentives to make it work.
Let’s explore how successful inner-team collaborations happen and share best practices to maximize their impact.
Understanding the Key Differences Between Upsells, Cross-sells, and Renewals
Upsells, cross-sells, renewals - oh my! There are unique approaches and ownership differences to consider regarding these crucial revenue components of your business.
To begin, upselling and cross-selling require a deft touch that often accompanies an existing relationship. There’s an art to encouraging customers to make additional purchases while communicating that additional value. For upsell/cross-sell, the ownership of this process typically falls on the sales team. To succeed, the sales team must be keenly aware of when a customer may be ready to get value from an upsell or cross-sell opportunity. Timing is key here; if a customer isn’t ready for an additional product or service, pushing too hard could lead to a negative experience.
Regarding renewals, ownership of this process typically falls on the customer success team. This team manages relationships with existing customers and ensures they get value from their products or services. They must proactively contact customers before their agreements expire to discuss renewal options and ensure they find value in their current solutions. Additionally, they need to identify potential issues throughout the customer's journey, address them quickly, and get back on a path to value.
With the constant drive to create great customer experiences, whether looking at upselling, cross-selling, or renewing a contract, all teams should focus on providing personalized offers tailored specifically for each customer and creating long-term relationships through delivering customers value. Organizations can build lasting relationships with their customers by continually monitoring and adjusting the value delivered, resulting in increased loyalty and higher retention rates over time.
Developing these relationships and maintaining retention rates has driven a renewed focus in organizations on revenue rather than sales.
Let’s look at what that means for the ownership of revenue within the business and how that translates to customer growth.
The Rise of the CRO and Revenue Ownership
With customer growth at the forefront of every business decision, it's crucial to adopt a holistic strategic approach that guarantees your success. Who owns revenue has also notably changed with the rise of Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) and revenue organizations replacing sales organizations solely focused on generating new business.
CROs are responsible for setting comprehensive revenue targets comprised of all upsell, cross-sell, renewals, and new logo revenue. Upsell and cross-sell revenue have become increasingly important as they help to drive customer growth and increase revenue while new logo growth continues to sustain the customer pipeline.
One of the most significant benefits of upselling and cross-selling is the potential to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. By offering customers superior options or relevant add-ons, you can enhance their experience and motivate them to engage more frequently or deeply with your brand. Additionally, these tactics can drive revenue growth, as increased per-customer spending can quickly add to significant gains.
New logo acquisition isn’t without its merits or challenges. In this year of economic downturn, organizations are heavily scrutinizing budgets, competition exerts more pressure, and new business is more difficult to win. Investing time, energy, and resources into nurturing existing relationships is more valuable than solely focusing on acquiring new ones.
By incorporating customer satisfaction and loyalty through all revenue-generating activities, businesses can drive sustained revenue growth and expand their reach within the market. Importantly, upselling and cross-selling should be implemented with thought and care, ensuring that the customer needs to remain at the forefront of all efforts.
Upgrading Today's Upsells: Ditching the Data Silos
Today’s upselling motion is hyper-inefficient. It stems from the relatively young relationship between sales and customer success – at just a decade old, it’s a child in the business world! Upselling has long been treated as an afterthought as it is not a new logo sale or a renewal, so handling this piece of revenue creation leaves business leaders scratching their heads for how to incorporate best with internal teams.
One of the most common challenges in preventing a frictionless upsell process is the siloed structure many organizations find themselves in. With departments living in their own world of roles, responsibilities, and metrics, this often leads to important conversations and action items getting lost in conversations and handoffs.
Sales reps, who are primarily responsible for handling new or existing revenue, are often out of touch with customers once the initial deal is complete. This lack of alignment with customer success teams can lead to confusion and losing opportunities.
The CS team’s approach is typically more qualitative by ensuring customers are satisfied, making their actions subjective, which can be difficult to measure or predict. However, customer satisfaction is still vital, so companies use metrics such as NPS, CSAT, health scores, or check-in calls to gauge customer satisfaction. While CS is the natural customer advocate, sales naturally play the role of wanting to identify upsell opportunities and increase revenue. It's because we are operating on different performance goals and priorities!
Despite the competing priorities, sales teams are keen to know the most opportune moment to engage with customers. To gauge this, sales reps usually poll other team members to understand when to engage, which can be ineffective in determining the best time to connect with customers or prospects.
To overcome these issues and improve upselling, organizations must work towards a common goal: better aligning sales and CS teams with customer objectives. This alignment helps solve the issues of lost conversations and handoffs, creating a seamless communication channel between Sales and CS teams and ultimately creating more value for your customers.
But creating a rainbows and butterflies moment between two critical revenue-generating teams will not create a more fluid upsell process magically. The true magic is in leveraging each team's true talents while sharing a common goal around: (1) Value Delivered and (2) Revenue Performance.
Letting Your Sales and Customer Success Leaders Lead
Sales and CS teams are critical players in driving business growth and success, but their responsibilities should be properly defined to maximize their effectiveness in achieving their objectives. Too often, we find that everyone is placed in the role of “revenue generator” when that really hinders each from focusing on their core competencies.
So what should we rely on our sales leaders to do?
At the very basic levels, sales reps generate revenue by selling the company's products or services. Their primary focus should be identifying opportunities, qualifying leads, and closing deals. They are typically more successful when focusing on these priorities without distraction. When we place sales leaders as CS advocates, we ask them to take their eye off key revenue-generating tasks, putting those key activities in danger.
Want to discover upsell opportunities that you didn't know existed? Learn how TheySaid's Customer-Asking Engine automates this for your sales team.
And what about Customer Success Teams?
On the other hand, customer success teams focus primarily on maintaining relationships and optimizing the customer experience. They are responsible for ensuring customers are successful and satisfied with the products and services they've purchased. They often serve as customers' primary points of contact, identifying customers’ value points, offering guidance, and building loyalty over time. By asking CS leaders to take on the role of a sales rep, we’re asking them to ultimately take their foot off the gas of relationship building, jeopardizing the feeling the clients may have of value and loyalty.
There will always naturally be points of overlap, but trusting those we have placed in these critical sales and CS roles to focus on these critical points of the revenue organization to focus on these tasks is key to long-term success. But while these critical teams may have different strengths, you must find alignment on performance goals to ensure that both teams are moving in the same direction towards growing revenue for your existing business.
Customer Success Metrics Worth Measuring
One of the blessings and curses of a sales leader is that their metrics are always clearly defined in the revenue metrics. Their “quota” is set quarter after quarter, year over year. But what about metrics for the CS leaders? There are several alternative measurements that Customer Success (CS) teams can track to support revenue-oriented targets in addition to the standard "Net Revenue Retention" (NRR) metric. Let’s take a look.
- Percentage of Logos with Upsell/Cross-Sell Over Year: This metric measures the percentage of new, existing, or reactivated customers that made an additional purchase or upgraded their current purchase. This metric incentivizes broad coverage of upsell and cross-sell motions, ensuring all customers can benefit from additional solutions or services. This metric can help businesses identify profitable customer segments and develop new revenue streams.
- Percentage of Direct Customer Referrals: This metric measures the percentage of customers who become brand advocates and refer others to the company. This is an excellent way for businesses to generate new leads and revenue without incurring additional marketing costs. Customer referrals are also more likely to convert into paying customers, further improving revenue growth. This metric can be an excellent indicator of the overall success of CS efforts, as it demonstrates high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
"Percentage of Logos with Upsell/Cross-Sell Over Year" and "Percentage of Direct Customer Referrals" are alternative metrics that CS teams can own to support revenue targets. They incentivize CS teams to focus on increasing revenue opportunities and building brand loyalty. Curious how you can track metrics like this? TheySaid’s Customer Asking Engine enables customers to feed your team upsell, cross-sell, and churn risk signals along their journey - growing your customer revenue exactly when they tell you to.
Start Upselling Better
At the end of the day, customer growth is a joint responsibility between CS and sales teams that requires shared KPIs and performance goals. It's essential to understand the fundamental dynamics and motivators between these teams to ensure they are working together, not against each other, to drive customer growth. With a better understanding of how to drive a better collaborative process among teams, a more healthy upsell process awaits.