Back in December, I wrote a blog post and research note (subscription required) about the “MQL Trap”, the problem that afflicts technology marketers who focus primarily on generating Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs), often at the expense of other, more important activities. One of those neglected functions is marketing to existing customers. When tech marketers are hyper-focused on MQLs, they typically abdicate responsibility for growing revenue from existing accounts to the sales team. They only market to them when they want them to attend a user conference or on an ad-hoc basis around product launches.
When study after study shows that it’s easier and cheaper to sell to existing customers than to try to acquire new ones, and loyal, happy customers are key to influencing prospects, provider marketers should be completely engaged in this effort. Account managers or “farmers” do a great job with account maintenance and preventing issues from reaching Planes, Trains and Automobiles–like status, but they are neither marketers nor product experts. And that’s a problem because your customers don’t just want access to support or basic account management, but also frequent contact, tailored offers, white papers and other things that should be coming from product marketing and management rather than sales. In our 2013 survey of 503 buyers of B2B technology and services, a significant number of respondents viewed these activities as extremely significant in terms of expanding the relationship (and propensity to buy more from you). See the graphic below:
But you can’t simply flip a switch and start marketing to your customers without a thoughtful, programmatic approach. Expanding usage, cross-selling and upselling is different than making the initial sale. That is the subject of some new research called “Best Practices in Using Marketing to Increase Share of Wallet With B2B Customers” (subscription required). I provide a framework based on four steps including:
- Agree on Marketing’s Role and Objectives
- Collect, Consolidate and Correlate Data to Uncover Hidden Opportunities
- Map Content and Activities to the Customer’s Buying Journey
- Enable the Field and Partners for Selling to Existing Customers
Each of these areas (especially the last three) can require significant time and effort upfront. While so much more data is available than ever before, not of all of it is created equal and you’ll need to figure out what really matters. Analyzing the data usually requires tools and you’ll need to find one that works based on resources, skills and IT support. If you don’t have content geared toward existing customers, you’ll need to develop it or modify existing content. And if your sales force (particularly the account managers) and partners aren’t really adept at cross-selling and up-selling, you will need to devote some effort in enabling them to be successful.
The research note also highlights some great examples of how providers such as Tableau, AppDynamics, Revana, Hubspot and VMWare have all been successful by focusing on growing share of wallet from existing customers and adopting the elements of the framework that I described above. What these providers are doing isn’t rocket science and they don’t have armies of super-exclusive data scientists making it happen. They simply saw a problem and/or opportunity and then employed a rigorous approach to solve the problem and capitalize on the opportunity.
If you have access to the document, I would strongly encourage you to take a look, especially if you have multiple products, a critical mass of customers (especially happy ones), multiple use cases for your solutions, and some white space to expand. Given the overwhelming business case for investing in efforts to grow wallet share from existing customers, you should be having a conversation with your CMO and/or executive management team about this topic.
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