Customer Success: Upsells, Cross-Sells and Expansion


April Oman, Head Of Customer Success at Betterworks; David Obrand, COO at Radius Intelligence; Santi Subotovsky, General Partner at Emergence Capital; and Sarah Kokin Jacobsohn, Director Client Success Services at Cornerstone Ondemand sit down to talk about customer success - how to measure it, how to structure compensation, and how to avoid distractions. (After reading this, check out Jay Simons of Atlassian’s take on customer success - it’s a bit of a different viewpoint.)

Over the next three days, DataFox will summarize the SaaStr 2016 panels. If you miss the tactical theater or strategy stage, are networking on the ground, or didn’t get a chance to attend this great conference, we’ve got you covered.

View all SaaStr 2016 panel summaries

Special thanks to Jason Lemkin of SaaStr for putting on this conference and giving us the chance to publish these summaries.

In a nutshell:

  • Be thoughtful about who your customers are - if you don’t, you’ll find yourself investing too much time supporting accounts that aren’t right for you to begin with.
  • Make sure that account executives are incentivized to upsell or deepen relationships.
  • Support is just one part of customer success - upsells and creating advocates are essential too.

Strategic customer success

Kokin compared customer success to a marriage: the initial sale is the courting period, the deal sign is the wedding, and customer success is the actual marriage. Customer success needs to be built into the process - you should invest time, headcount and money in making expansion and nurturing part of your organization. Subscriptions are the best way to ensure recurring revenue - in our subscription economy, it’s essential for ongoing success.

The flip side of that is you need to be careful about your customers. It’s okay to say no to a customer or prospect - in fact, it’s essential to avoid getting bogged down in misfit use cases.

Compensation and structure

Obrand goes so far as to pay his AE’s half when a contract is signed and half when the customer is referenceable - it’s a clear signal that the deal sign isn’t the end of the relationship. Ultimately, he argued, you want to base compensation on customer success, and vastly reward those who make customers vastly successful. Kokin also incentivizes AEs on customer success, giving commissions on upsells and renewals.

Finally, the panel agreed that customer success shouldn’t be viewed as cost of goods sold - it should be seen as a growth opportunity.

Check out all of our SaaStr panel summaries here, follow us on Twitter at @datafoxco to see live tweets of the event, and visit SaaStr itself for more great content.