As a member of the Gartner Technology Go-to-Market Research team, I have several calls each week with clients and prospects explaining what we do and how we help. When I talk about my particular remit, we usually wind up discussing one or two areas that are of particular interest to the person on the other end of the line. The area that seems to be piquing the most interest of late is cross-selling and up-selling existing customers.
I covered this topic in a blog post in February and wrote a couple of research notes. But the focus at that point was around the idea that marketing needed to be much more involved (as opposed to making it the sole responsibility of the account managers) and apply the same amount of rigor and disclipine (around segmentation, data, process and content) as they do with prospects.
But as I’ve spent more time thinking about the topic and talking to clients, it occurred to me that the discussion needs to start at a more strategic level. Keeping the customer happy and building an environment where they want to increase the amount of money they spend with you is really the responsibility of the entire company. Everybody in a customer-facing role needs to not only be thinking about keeping customers happy, but ensuring they get maximum value out of their investments with your organization.
Your customers are already interacting with many people within your organization and a lot of your content. Most of the content and all of the interactions are critically important. In our survey of B2B technology buyers that we conducted over this past summer, with the exception of e-mails and newsletters, a solid majority of respondents said the content and interactions were extremely important (a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-7) in whether they remained as customers and expanded the existing relationship. See the chart below.
Everyone from the executive team to sales to marketing and product management to support and professional services should consider themselves as bearing responsibility. In the same survey, respondents said that “content and advice to help them get more out of their existing investments” was the most valuable thing they could get from their existing providers. The bad news is that they aren’t receptive to buying more expensive solutions (upsell) or complementary ones (cross-sell) from you until that happens. The good news is that once the condition is met, they are very receptive to doing so. In our survey of buyers from a year ago, 72% said they would like to receive tailored offers that build on their existing investment.
While the latter is certainly good news, most of the providers I talk to aren’t meeting the prerequisite. Whether you are in executive management, sales, product management or product marketing as you finish your planning for next year, I would strongly recommend that you make this a strategic priority.