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Strategic Customer Relationships Boost AE Upsells

5 min read
July 18, 2017

You closed a deal! Your former prospect has been upgraded to a brand new customer. Signed, sealed, and delivered to their customer service manager (CSM). They are no longer on your radar. Job well done, right?

Not so fast.

You could actually be throwing potential revenue out the window when you cut off ties and hand a new customer to their CSM. According to Forrester, upselling can bring in up to 30% of your revenue and that initial close could be your company’s first step in the door to bigger business deals.

However, account executives are rarely part of the upsell process at most companies. A lot of teams have their CSMs handle upsells in between delivering customer service. But as an AE, if you maintain your relationships with your customers and collaborate with your CSMs, you turn a new client into a source of recurring commission for yourself and expansion revenue for your company. Here are three ways to get more involved in the upsell process.

Plant the Seed During the Sales Cycle

As account executives, you lay the groundwork for an upsell by giving your potential customer a glimpse into all your product has to offer throughout your initial sales cycle. Show prospects your top-of-the-line offering with all the bells and whistles during demos and any follow-up conversations. Even if you don’t think they’re interested in the premium version of your product, that’s okay. Showing additional features could spark your customer’s interest after their initial buy-in.

As you move toward close and hone in on a specific feature set or package for a potential client, you don’t have to dismiss additional features or potential upsells. Instead, frame them as future add ons as the potential clients team or business expands. A simple “It may not be right for you now, but it will be great for your team down the road as business picks up,” is a stronger way to frame these features than merely dismissing them and moving on.

If a customer moves forward with the “basic” level product, keep any premium features that caught their eye top of mind for them. Using sales engagement platforms, like Salesloft, you can easily create a cadence of email and phone touchpoints to re-engage them a few months into their use. Even better, you can use Snippets within your templated emails and specify the upsell features the customer finds interesting to drive the upsell home.

Allow Customer Service to Concentrate on Support

A customer service manager’s primary focus should be on serving the customer (obviously) and providing the best product experience possible. Talking money or upsells can sully budding customer relationships that need to be built on trust. The simplest way to prevent strained relations between CSMs and their customers is to allow Account Executives to help out in the upsell process.

This division of labor allows both sales and customer service to excel. CSMs can provide service and advice, never having to be pushy or salesy. If they identify a potential upgrade or a customer voices interest, they can pass them off to you as the AE. This way you don’t have to worry about managing a customers day-to-day and can slip into your familiar role, reintroduce those premium features, and negotiate price points. Segmenting money talks away from customer service allows you to be the pure place seller and ultimately contributes to a better overall customer experience.

Expand Enterprise Deals with Preexisting Relationships

As an Account Executive — especially one selling to enterprise-level companies —your first deal with an organization may be relatively small compared to the size of the entire company. Now that you snagged that initial deal and have a business relationship with someone on the inside, you can cast a wider net to work with more of the business.

The best way to upsell within a mid-market or enterprise-level company: ask for a referral.

According to Dale Carnegie, 91% of customers are willing to give referrals. And why not? During the initial sale you and your contact built a strategic relationship. They’ve seen first-hand the service that your product and company can offer and can advocate the value to other parts of their company. This way the customer looks good in the eyes of their company and you have a much greater chance of closing on the upsell; a win-win!

Account Executives taking over upselling capitalizes on what a seller does best; closing deals. CSMs can also grow revenue through upsells due to their steady involvement with the account. But modern sellers who emphasize building relationships with prospective customers have just as much customer knowledge and the sales negotiation skills to boot. By blending these skills together you will be the AEs who truly master the art of the upsell.


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