Customer Success (CS) is much more than managing “the implementation.” It’s about driving success for your existing customer so they will be satisfied and will remain a customer beyond the initial sale. Customer success can drive upselling and cross-selling revenue. To achieve this, organizations must build a customer success team that turns customers into raving fans, thus driving more revenue for the company.

When we built our customer success strategy at Vengreso from the ground up we decided to focus on three pillars for mutual success – our customer’s success and our success.

These three pillars have helped us upsell and cross-sell more, and they are:

  • Ensure Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Drive Adoption
  • Relevant Upselling

Watch the 25-minute video below or keep reading to learn more about these three pillars.

Pillars of a Successful Customer Success Team to Drive Upselling and Cross Selling Revenue

At Vengreso, we are very intentional about ensuring that our customer success team delivers exceptional experiences for our clients. Consequently, we centered on these three pillars as the foundation of our approach to customer success.

These elements will hopefully contribute to your mindset, and enable you to learn from our investment of thousands of hours in our upselling strategy.

Let’s explore these pillars in detail and how we implement them at Vengreso.

Is your #CustomerSuccess team driving #upselling and #cross-selling revenue for your organization? Discover the 3 ways your CS team can start doing just that with @M_3Jr. Click To Tweet

1. Ensure ROI for Our Customers

Ensuring ROI for the customer is the most important goal to strive for. It’s what everyone wants to achieve, from the C-Suite to the sales rep who closed the deal. Generally, most sales teams and customer success teams think about ROI in terms of dollars, but ROI doesn’t have to be just about money. In fact, customer success can drive upselling and cross selling revenue

ROI can be a business impact, such as developing repeatable processes or templates to reduce the time certain tasks take to complete. Or, ROI can be a personal win for an individual or buyer at your client’s organization. For example, as a virtual sales training company, we teach sales teams how to create more conversations with their buyers. 

The digital prospecting techniques we teach enable reps to develop relationships with prospects, ask for referrals, and build a sales pipeline, all of which lead to increased opportunities, something many teams struggle to achieve.

ROI can also be measured in elevated capabilities of individuals to make them more valuable to the client’s company. For example, it might be that your client’s organization is able to serve one market segment today, but they want to be able to serve a complementary market segment tomorrow and your solution will allow them to achieve this goal.

That’s an elevated capability within an organization, which can be internal or external facing. If this is a stated goal by the customer, the ROI will be recognized and celebrated as a win. 

Our job is to understand what the customer’s ROI goals are so that we can strive to achieve and then drive towards those goals. This is why it’s imperative that we have a mutual understanding of the customer’s goals at the start of the customer experience. 

Create Referenceable Customers

Another element about ensuring ROI that we focus on in the customer success journey is creating a referenceable customer.

A referenceable customer is a happy customer who loves you, who raves about you, and who wants to tell others about you. It’s a sticky customer, a loyal customer.

To create referenceable customers, strive to create raving fans. This means you must ensure that the existing customer is really excited about your product or service, so much so that they want to tell others about you and their experience with your brand. They are the customers always providing product recommendations and the ones more likely to buy an additional product.

The Customer Success Manager (CSM) in the trenches with the customer, along with Customer Success leadership must always be focused on driving ROI. The CSM should discuss the ROI goals with the customer at the beginning of a new CS relationship and then reinforce the goal(s) and the progress on every single call and milestone as they move along the path together.

When we take this approach as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the customer success organization, we incorporate this very important discussion into our daily conversations. This enables the customer to recognize that we are focused on their business, thus creating an opportunity to upsell.

How to Ensure Your Customers Are Achieving an ROI

One way you can start implementing this approach is to ask your customer success managers these two questions:

  1. Who is your top customer right now that you’re working with?
  2. What is the ROI that this customer will receive out of using our product or service?

If your CSM cannot answer these questions, then you are severely missing one of the key foundations to a successful customer success and experience program.

Your customer success team needs to constantly ensure that your customers are experiencing an ROI from your product or service so that your organization knows they are delivering as promised.

Plus, your existing customers know that your customer success team is there to help them achieve success. That’s how you build the foundation for raving fans who will drive upselling revenue.

2. Drive Adoption of Your Solution

For most of us in Customer Success, this is an obvious one. Of course, we should be talking about driving adoption of our solution within our customers, but it is almost so obvious that some CS organizations forget to focus on it as a key pillar in their strategy.

There are two key elements to our strategy of driving adoption: reducing churn and engaging clients.

Reduce Churn

The first thing we want to achieve is to reduce churn. We want our clients to be happy and satisfied using our product or service so they will use it and renew or buy a related product (cross-selling revenue). 

It’s important to listen to your customers about how they’re using your solution. They may identify new and innovative ways to use the product. And if it’s valuable, of course, support it and you’ll reduce churn.

At Vengreso, one of the valuable things that we implemented on our Learning Management System (LMS) is monthly coaching to both individual sales reps and to our Teams clients. Integrating robust learning management system features such as personalized learning paths, interactive content, and comprehensive reporting capabilities can enhance the effectiveness of customer training programs and drive higher adoption rates.

After they complete our training program, they can continue learning and engaging in live webinars every month with coaches and peers to share their wins and discuss challenges. These webinars are encouraging to everyone and they build community. In other words, they drive adoption and help us create customer satisfaction, which reduces churn.

In fact, these statistics are so important to me, as the CEO of Vengreso, that I receive our monthly report and I look at the metrics. I want to know how many people are coming to the monthly coaching, because if they are actually engaged and coming, then they’ll stick around. However, if they’re not attending, then it’s less probable they will be our fans.

That makes this a key metric for our organization. 

My advice for CS leaders is this: get your senior leadership engaged to identify the one, two, or three customer success metrics that will help reduce customer churn and increase customer loyalty. Then start developing strategies around them.

Engage Clients

Making sure that the customer is engaged is a big part of driving adoption because engaged customers benefit from your solution. And if they benefit from your service or the product, they’re going to see the value and then they’re going to tell other people about it.

That’s when you’ve created loyal customers, raving fans.

For instance, in our post-training surveys, we strive for a satisfaction rate of 90% or higher. One of the questions we ask in all our surveys is, “Thinking of your fellow peers who may have not joined this sales training program, would you recommend they participate?” We always achieve 95% or higher on that question. 

The other question that pertains to this is, “What is your overall rating of the entire training experience?” Again, we get a 95% or better as opposed to the 90% that we actually were striving for.

One thing we do with our surveys is to require our students to complete them before they receive a certificate of completion, which is what the customer’s leadership is looking at when they buy the training program for their individuals. So, we actually get one hundred percent of our respondents engaged in our surveys, which provides us data on where we are succeeding and where we need to improve. 

These surveys are critical to understanding this key strategic part of driving adoption. I can look at the survey results and ask, are we driving raving fans? If not, then we need to revise our approach.

Once you create raving fans, referrals are likely to start coming in, because fans share their experiences. We love it when people talk about us on social media. We’ve created a program where people show off their certificates of completion on social media, which has increased exposure to our program and helped bring us new customers.

Do you know the two key elements you need to drive adoption of your product or service? Reducing #churn and engaging clients. Learn more about how #CustomerSuccess can drive #upselling revenue. @M_3Jr Click To Tweet

3. Relevant Upselling and Cross-Selling

Upselling is incredibly important to the long term impact of a customer success organization.

Some customer success managers may say, “I’m not in sales. I’m in customer success. I’m not a salesperson.” But they must remember that customer success can drive upselling and cross selling revenue

However, we firmly believe the customer success team has an upselling and cross-selling function within the company.

The Customer Success Manager is in a unique position to build a relationship based on trust with the customer. This ties directly into the first pillar we discussed, Ensure ROI, and using customer success to drive upselling and cross selling revenue

When the CSM is constantly engaging the customer on whether your product or service is helping them achieve their desired results, the customer is more likely to trust that CSM and view them as an extension of their team. 

Often, sales reps do not have the opportunity to build that same level of trust with customers. CSMs on the other hand, have a unique opportunity to uncover existing needs the customer may have that they may not have shared with the rep during the sales process.

At Vengreso, we feel it is absolutely essential that our CSMs are able to recognize an opportunity to cross sell vs upsell and ask questions that further clarify the customer’s needs.

To prepare our CSMs, and everyone that’s involved with the customer, we have them go through our sales and training process. This includes participating in sales calls.

This training helps reduce the trepidation about having sales conversations with the customers and helps them uncover buying signals so that they can recognize the needs and the pain points of the customer.

It’s also very important that everyone understands the product. The better you understand the product, the better you can speak about it with confidence and provide valuable solutions. 

We’re not necessarily looking for our customer success team to be sellers. Instead, we need them to be able to recognize an upselling opportunity and turn it over to a sales colleague so they can engage the customer in that conversation.

Understand the Client’s Needs

As mentioned above, at Vengreso we have our Customer Success Manager listen to prospecting calls the customer had with the sales team before engaging with the client. This helps the CSM learn the history of the conversation, where the customer is coming from, understand their needs, what their struggles are, and their current mindset at the outset of a CS experience.

An added benefit is it helps our CS team avoid repetition. If the customer has already answered these questions or covered specific topics with the sales team, the CSM should acknowledge these topics, and endeavor to go deeper on them in the context of the CS experience. The CSM can focus on summarizing those topics, confirming they are key issues the customer wants to address, and begin walking through the process of how she will help them address them.

We use, a recording system that allows the CSM to listen to the conversations that led up to the sale. That way our customer success team can understand the customer needs and start driving the ROI mindset on their particular agenda.

Then, during our engagement, our CS team is with the customer every single week ensuring they are achieving their goals, identifying any new or additional needs, and learning about any struggles they are having. These weekly updates are also a great opportunity for us to understand what they might need going forward and develop an upselling strategy accordingly.

For example, two of our training programs are Selling with LinkedIn ® and Selling with Video. The CSM learned that one of Selling with LinkedIn® training clients had a sudden realization: that some of their customers don’t use LinkedIn® extensively.

However, through discussion, we realized their team would benefit from sending video sales messages in their email communication with their prospects and customers. That opened the door to a conversation about our Selling with Video training program. This is a great example of relevant upselling when the CSM understands the needs of the customers through a trust-based relationship.

#CustomerSuccess Managers should be able to engage in #sales conversations with their customers, driving #upselling and #cross-selling revenue. @M_3Jr Click To Tweet

Hire the Right CSM

There is some debate about who should you hire for the CS role. Should you place a top salesperson in a customer success role? Or should it be customer success professionals who’ve never been in sales but clearly understand project management and how to move a customer along through the process of implementation?

I don’t have the perfect answer, but our goal is that all future CSMs that we bring into Vengreso will have this hybrid experience to allow them to be able to not only do effective project management but also to be able to recognize opportunities for relevant upselling that benefits the customer.

Everything we do at Vengreso in Customer Success is centered around the three strategic pillars explained here. I hope this article will help you in creating a mindset shift regarding your customer success organization and the importance of driving upselling and cross-selling revenue.

Get Up Close and Personal with your Customers

I love the concept of Fanocracy, coined by my friend David Meerman Scott in his recent best selling book.

Fanocracy is about making your customers feel part of a community and giving them the opportunity to get up close to your organization. That is the secret to building a raving fan base of customers to whom you can upsell and cross-sell over and over.

Plus, make sure to read our ultimate guide to learn all about B2B sales, including how to assemble your team, the best culture to instill, and methods for increasing sales.

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