A structured approach to getting more revenue from existing customers

When working with large Enterprise Clients like Fortune 500, one of the most important revenue-generating activities is upselling and cross-selling. It takes a lot of time and effort to acquire an Enterprise Client. It would be worth the reward only if there is a big upside in terms of revenue generation.

Before we jump into the nuts and bolts of the title, here are a few general thumb rules that I follow when working with large Enterprise clients:

  • To move the sales cycle faster, try entering with a small contract ($10k a year). Usually, at that price, a VP-level approval is sufficient. You don’t want to price your product $50k a year on day 1, such that your quote goes through CXO level approvals. If that happens, be ready for a 6 - 12 month-long sales cycle, which could be highly demotivating. The length of the Sales cycle grows exponentially with the price.
  • Be aware of the key stakeholders in the Sales process - Business, IT, InfoSec, Legal, Compliance, Procurement, and Finance. Keep the documentation for each of them handy, so as to save time and iterations.
  • The product you sell should be applicable across at least 3 - 5 business teams so that there is a scope of cross-selling. Even at $10k a year price-tag, it will take you anywhere from 2 - 4 months to close a deal. What’s the point of that if you only get $10k with that kind of effort?

 

Now, let’s talk about how upselling and cross-selling works in large enterprises. Here are our definitions of upselling and cross-selling that we use internally:

  • Upselling: selling a higher plan of the same product.
  • Cross-selling: selling a different product to the existing team, or, selling the same product to a different team within the client.

 

After the contract is signed, our Operations Team takes over and starts interacting with the client for the implementation of the project. A typical implementation goes anywhere from 3 - 8 weeks given that there are dependencies on the client-side as well. Therefore, the Operations/Delivery team interacts with the client a lot. Also, given that they do the actual work, they have a stronger relationship with the client as against the Sales team.

Therefore, we use Operations Team as one of the sources of lead generation from an existing client. If the Project implementation has gone well and the client is happy with the work, the Project Manager can simply nudge them - “Hey Bob, do you think you would also be keen to explore our so and so product?”.

Obviously, a lot of clients will say - “No, let’s first see the success of what has been done”. However, a lot will also say - “Sure, I’d be keen to explore”. Sales is a numbers game. More qualified leads imply more revenue. As soon as the client shows interest, the Project Manager helps set up a meeting between the client and the Sales team.

We have an attractive incentive plan in place where we pay incentives to the Project Manager for each meeting that they set. These meetings may or may not result in a contract. We don’t care. We want qualified leads and so, we pay incentives even if the client doesn’t purchase.

The logic here for incentivizing on merely lead generation (and not closure) is that we don’t want the Project Manager to be constantly chasing the Sales guy and asking for an update on the closure. We further don’t want the Project Manager to be following up with the client. The Project Manager’s task is to deliver the project to the client’s satisfaction, and not to sell.

Apart from this, the Project Manager can also generate more leads by asking the client - “Hey, can you connect me with Ms. X from Y Team? We feel that our product might be useful for her team as well.

More often than not, that also works like a charm. This is how we cross-sell. The beauty is that in the meeting with Ms. X, our Sales team member will highlight that we already have all the necessary approvals in place (IT, InfoSec, Legal, Compliance, Procurement, and Finance). She just needs to give a go-ahead and we are ready to start. It just becomes frictionless for Ms. X to start working with us as against evaluating another vendor and taking them through the whole approval process again.

Remember, the goal here is to generate as many leads as possible. More qualified leads imply more revenue. Our Operations/Delivery Team is a fantastic source of qualified lead generation from existing clients and has gotten us quite a bit of revenue through upsells and cross-sells.

Once the project has gone live, we hand over the Project to the Customer Success Team who conducts quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with the clients to show them the success and the adoption of our Product. This ensures that the client keeps on renewing the contract and pays us year after year.

Customer Success Team further brings revenue by 4 other revenue-generating activities:

  • Upselling
  • Cross-selling
  • Referrals
  • Testimonials

 

If the QBR meeting has gone well, the Customer Success Associate nudges the client and asks them for a referral to some other business team. To ease this process, we keep an excel of account-wise data on what could be sold to which client. Depending on how happy the client is, they may even agree to a testimonial, that shines on our Website and other marketing material.

Enterprise testimonials are powerful because if a CXO of a large company praises your offering, you can show it to many other clients and acquire them. The role of the Customer Success Team is to grow revenues by keeping existing clients happy.

In fact, this is why SaaS companies grow exponentially. Imagine 1 happy client referring you to 3 other clients who in turn refer you to 9 others, who in turn refer you to 27 others … You get the idea.

Therefore, our Operations/Delivery Team and the Customer Success Team are the 2 key levers to generate revenue from existing clients and help us grow exponentially. In an Enterprise-focused business like ours, these teams have one of the most important roles to play when it comes to generating revenue.

It is worth adding here that the Operations Team and Customer Success Team don’t sell. They merely generate the lead. Eventually, the lead is passed onto the Sales Team who is an expert at showing value to the client and bringing a contract to the table. This also helps us avoid replication of effort in teaching Sales to Project Managers and Customer Success Associates.

To summarize:

  • Keep a list of upselling and cross-selling opportunities ready.
  • Use Operations and Project Management Team to generate more leads.
  • Send qualified leads to the Sales team for closure.

 

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