Growth & Upsell Strategies — B2B SaaS Customer Growth Fundamentals

Kent Phillips
4 min readSep 23, 2019
Thanks Shutterstock for this image.

A VP of Customer Success at a Silicon Valley SaaS company recently told me that his CEO and board of directors are not OK with 30% annualized growth. To reach their IPO and revenue objectives, they want 30–40%+ annualized growth. This is far beyond the average for SaaS companies who typically face a 5% annual churn rate (equal to a net retention of 95%).

To achieve net retention of 130%+ your Account Management and Customer Success teams need a system and these organizational selling steps could be a part of their system.

Leveraging an Account Success Plan and regular Quarterly Business Reviews with your customer help in identifying where you can grow with the customer. Add on top of these organizational selling steps and your team of Customer Success Managers and Account Managers will be able to create CQLs (customer qualified leads) and drive growth to hit your Net ARR objectives.

Organizational Selling Steps

  1. Establish needs per user, group, and department
  2. Confirm which stakeholders are involved in the need(s)
  3. Establish the decision-making process
  4. Identify the customer’s buying process (hierarchy vs. consensus)
  5. Prescribe your solution(s) for expansion

The Organizational Selling Steps were created by the WinningByDesign team and I’ve added highlights for each step below.

1. Establish need(s) per user, group, and department.

  • Intention: Figure out who is involved with the identified need(s) and where they fit within the company’s organizational buying units.
  • Suggestions: Review the Account Success Plan or latest QBR to identify a list of needs/desires for a specific group of users. Each company has a different process for buying software and it’s critical that you identify, clarify, and confirm who has the need and which group the user fits into within the customer’s organization.
  • Objective: Establish the situation, problem, impact on their business, and need-pay off if possible per business group or by buying unit. See SPIN Selling for more.

2. Confirm which stakeholders are involved in the need(s).

  • Intention: Use prescriptive questions to connect the dots with the responsible stakeholders for the identified need.
  • Suggestions: Rely on the CSM to identify a list of potential stakeholders who could be involved. Leverage your existing champion or primary end-user(s) to find additional stakeholders. Lunch & Learn sessions are a great way to highlight success with your current stakeholders to other groups in their business while identifying new stakeholders.
  • Objective: Identify the champion, influencers, and decision maker stakeholders for their needs.

3. Establish the decision-making process.

  • Intention: Identify the system your customer uses to buy software and make decisions.
  • Suggestions: Ask questions based on your known stakeholders to determine who needs to be involved at what stage of the decision-making process. For example “Does Rachael, your Chief Customer Officer need to be included in approval here?”. Confirm the customer’s org chart so that you know all of the possible stakeholders who can be referenced in the discovery process.
  • Objective: Determine how the customer will evaluate an investment in your products or services.

4. Identify the customer’s buying process (hierarchy vs. consensus)

  • Intention: Figure out how your team will need to sell to the customer’s stakeholders through their processes and systems.
  • Suggestions: Align resources to match up with the customer’s stakeholders; aka bring your VP if they also bring their VP. The higher in their organization you can go the better. Be aware of their reporting structure so that your team does not ‘go over anyone’s head’ which could be seen as a disrespectful move.
  • Objective: Identify how your team will need to sell to the customer and what the Account Manager needs to do for the next steps.

Strategies for Hierarchical Selling

  • The CSM maps out the customer’s organizational structure.
  • Account Manager interacts at the highest possible organizational level.
  • Involve executives as needed to expand exposure within the customer.

Strategies for Consensus Selling

  • Account Manager creates the game plan for the customer to achieve their consensus.
  • Account Manager confirms the org structure with the customer.
  • Marketing builds out a content map that is executed with the CSMs help.
  • Your executives are presented with the plan and their role.
  • Account Managers orchestrate the game plan.

5. Prescribe your solution(s) for expansion

  • Intention: Share stories and ask questions to help your customer see how your solution meets their needs.
  • Suggestions: Indirectly prescribe your solution through the sharing of reference customer stories under similar circumstances. Instead of telling your customer what they need, emphasize key value points through a customer story with a similar use case. Demo your solution based on the questions you ask that address specific things collected in the diagnosis.
  • Objective: The customer stakeholders understand how your solution(s) can uniquely address their needs and what is possible for them on the other side if they use your solution(s).

If you’re able to go through these steps and work with your internal stakeholders (solutions team, executives, and/or experts) to provide a prescriptive product demo you’ll be in a great position to identify the potential for growth and upsell within each customer account. This will put you one step closer to your audacious growth goals.

Organizational selling steps enable post-sales teams to create CQLs (customer qualified leads) and drive growth with custom strategies tailored to the customers’ org dynamics and needs. Consider discussing the organizational selling strategies above with your next renewal or upsell opportunity.

Thank you.



Kent Phillips

Customer Success | Ethereum Ecosystem Growth | Mentoring & Meditation enthusiast | DYOR Venture Investor