Hi, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us today to learn about our top 10 tips for driving customer demand. We’re Shanann Monaghan and Seema Rizvi, and we work at Google Cloud building upsell and cross-sell programs across our portfolio of products.

We’re very excited to share our top tips for building a powerful upsell engine that drives value for your customers and revenue for your business.

If you're just getting started with building upsell programs and campaigns, our tips are laid out in our suggested order of operation.

Tip number one is your starting point, and then we’ll layer on tips two, three, four, etc. until you have a well-built upsell engine by tip number 10. That means even if you're already an upselling expert, hopefully we'll have a couple of new ideas for you today.

Let's go ahead and jump right into tip number one.

Tip #1: Outline your vision for customer growth

This tip is a foundational starting point. What are you trying to build? How will it help your business?

In most businesses, you reach a tipping point where your current customer base becomes big enough that it can be driving as much or more revenue than your net new prospects. This is when it becomes critical for marketing to build a truly full-funnel lead generation engine. You're not only acquiring new business, but you're also engaging and growing your existing customer base.

Customer funnel of acquisition, engagement, growth, and advocacy

The image above gives you a look at that full-funnel marketing engine. All marketing organizations start by prospecting and acquiring new business, but over time, you need to invest in engaging and growing your existing customer base as well.

Ultimately, customers who are engaged and growing will become your advocates.

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Tip #2: Find your upsell champions

As you build out your upsell engine it is critical to find internal advocates who understand why upsell is a key revenue driver and will support you in building out the engine to drive customer growth. At a minimum, you need alignment and buy-in from sales, operations, and customer success.

We’d recommend trialing a few upsell programs to see what works and what doesn't for engaging your customers. This will also help you to identify potential gaps in your processes and operations. Once you’ve had a few wins, you'll start to build momentum and interest in your upsell program.

When you've demonstrated some success, consider creating an upsell council across key stakeholders to formally align on goals, processes, funnel stage definitions, and criteria. Ultimately, you want to get to a place where upsell goals are part of the overall demand goals for the business and different teams are accountable for upselling. This is going to help set you up for success.

Tip #3: Organize your customer data

You can’t run an interesting or sophisticated upsell program without having access to organized and trackable customer data. Make sure you're tracking all of the following customer data points:

  • Demographics – Including location and job title.
  • Product usage – Which products and features are they using and how often?
  • Segmentation – By industry or business size.
  • Customer lifecycle – Are they onboarding, coming up for renewal, etc?

A mistake I've seen in many companies is that they jump right into building and trying to execute upsell campaigns before quickly realizing that they don't have the data or operations in place to support this.

The big tip here is to become best friends with your internal data or internal operations team. These are the people who are going to make it possible for you to have all of the infrastructure you need to run your campaigns.

Tip #4: Map your personas and your customer journey

An important step to building out your customer demand engine is to deeply understand your audience. At the end of the day, you’re talking to another human, so doing the work to build out your personas and customer journey is critical.

Setting expectations for customers throughout the journey
Part of providing a great experience lies in managing realistic customer expectations. Overpromise and under deliver, and you may find yourself without repeat custom and a very damaged reputation.

Who are your key personas? These could include decision-makers, stakeholders, and influencers as well as your users. You want to understand what they’re in charge of, what they care about, what keeps them up at night, and how your product or solution can help them.

It’s a great idea for anyone who's working on customer demand to find opportunities to speak with customers directly. What was their journey to your product or solution? What problem were they looking to solve, and why did they come to you? And, importantly for driving customer growth, what are they looking to do next? Thinking about your personas so that you really understand the human you're connecting with can bring so much life to your marketing.

In addition to building out your personas, it's also very important to map out your customer journey in order to understand what is the best next new product or use case to surface to your customers. Data, again, is critical here, so work cross-functionally to gather insights from product marketing and customer-facing teams. You’ll also want to leverage product usage data to understand, for example, product overlaps and key product clusters that drive growth.

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Knowing your personas and continuously researching, interviewing, and validating your personas is essential to developing meaningful and relevant multi-channel content.

Tip #5: Leverage data for propensity models

Because you've collected so many interesting insights about your customers, you can now leverage data to target the right message to the right person at the right time. The goal here is to ensure you are being helpful and considerate with your upsell tactics. You don't just want to blast your entire customer database with offers; you want to understand who has a high, medium, or low propensity for the products or services you provide.

We use propensity models for all of our cross-sell campaigns. If a user has X product, how likely are they to be interested in Y? If our data shows that they have a high likelihood of being interested, we include them in our campaign.

This is an always-on ongoing model. This month, a user might not show a high propensity for a certain product, but maybe six months from now they'll show more interest. At that point, the propensity model will put them in the high or medium category, and they’ll get added to our campaign, which may include emails, ads, and webinars.

Tip #6: Create content customers find engaging

Now that you know who you're talking to, make sure you're creating content that customers will find valuable and that delivers the right message at the right time. Remember: customers, particularly users, will already have some familiarity with your product, so you can dive a little deeper than you would with people at the top of the funnel.

Here are a few types of content that we’ve found customers respond well to:

  • Educational and how-to content – Blogs and short videos are great formats for this.
  • Product deep dives – Depending on your product and audience, this could be a technical deep dive. Go deep with a subject matter expert into a key feature; your customers will eat that up.
  • New features and product launches – Build programs to highlight your new products and features, and engage your customers with opportunities to speak to product experts.
  • Customer stories and co-learning Consider customer roundtables or webinars that will allow customers to learn from one another about what they did with your product, what worked, what didn't work, and what they would have done differently. This can kickstart new upsell opportunities and accelerate opportunities through the funnel.

The key takeaway here is to ensure that whatever content or program experience you build provides value to your customers. Ultimately, if you're providing value, and you're building trust and connection, your customers will come back to you and grow with you.

Tip #7: Lean into new marketing channels

It is so fun to leverage new marketing channels and connect with customers in different ways. One of our favorite channels is in-product. In-product banners and notifications are incredibly effective and engaging. We are very thoughtful about how we use this channel. It usually needs to be something like a tier-one event or a targeted learning opportunity for us to put it in-product.

A great piece of software that we've used to run our in-product messaging is Pendo. It's really easy to use to set up banners, notifications, and targeting. Once we have it all set up, we can work with our product or design teams to review it and make sure everything looks good before we push it live. Then once it is live, we can go back into Pendo to see the number of views and clicks and evaluate the overall performance.

Overall, we've seen our in-product promotions perform extremely well compared to other channels. As long as you make sure that what you share is going to be valuable to your customer base, this is a great channel to use.

Other marketing channels that you might want to lean into include online communities, user groups, and conferences. These are great opportunities to engage deeply with your existing customers.

Tip #8: Invest in your biggest customers

We've talked a lot about building the right content, building the right programs, and finding ways to engage with your customers. Now it’s time to focus on investing in your biggest customers. In a way, this is fairly straightforward. You want to identify which of your large accounts you can grow, and then build thoughtful programs to engage and grow them.

Critical to this work is partnering with sales, customer success, and other stakeholders such as sales engineering to build your target account list. You’ll need to continue working closely with these stakeholders to build the right programs, the right content, and shared accountability through shared goals. This will help set you up for success in growing those strategic accounts.

We created a program called Looker Data Days, which we found to be very successful in engaging our strategic accounts. These were 90-minute sessions featuring customer speakers from the account, so they provided a way for our customers to be subject matter experts within their organizations.

We also tapped into our own product experts to present on areas that we knew the customer was interested in learning more about, and we always provided a relevant demo.

In addition to driving growth within an account, this is a great way to expand into subsidiaries – especially with large enterprise accounts – by showing the broader value that your product provides.

Tip #9: Educate your team on customer follow-up

Prospects and customers should not be treated the same. Oftentimes your sales development team is trained on all things prospecting; however, it's also important to work together to develop a thoughtful approach to customer conversations. Be sure your team is aligning with AEs and CSMs, leveraging existing CRM notes, and digging into things like product usage or existing pain points before reaching out to customers.

We have an incredibly close relationship between marketing and our sales development team. We sync with them bi-weekly, we review upcoming campaigns with them, and we get feedback from them on our upsell scripts and how the messaging is resonating on calls. We also check in on our upsell numbers and how our teams are tracking towards our shared goals.

Having this alignment and collaboration is so important for upselling success and making sure you're working together to hit the goals that drive revenue for your business. Plus, all of this is really going to impress your executive team.

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Tip #10: Showcase your wins

Everything we discussed about alignment and goals was to help you get to this final tip – showcase your wins. This is your opportunity to shine. You want to show that you are driving the business forward.

We generally focus on marketing qualified leads as our high-level KPIs because that's what matters most to the business. Whichever metrics you choose to report on, it’s critical that they align with the wider business goals.

A couple of tips:

  • Build a consistent cadence for highlighting your work – Whether it’s a regular sales and marketing meeting, a demand meeting, a newsletter, or a quarterly recap, make sure you're consistently sharing what you're doing.
  • Focus on the high-level numbers for your leadership team – You can dive into the details with your smaller teams to find ways to optimize your programs, but at the leadership level, they want to know what is driving the business.
  • Put your key metrics in dashboards that you can share across the business – You want to show how you're creating leads and opportunities and how you're driving pipeline. That's going to highlight just how valuable the work you're doing is.

At the end of the day, upsell is a critical revenue driver. You want to be part of any sort of pipeline or demand council to ensure visibility and accountability for upsells throughout the business. Hopefully, the tips and steps we've outlined will help you get there.

A quick recap

Let's quickly recap our top ten tips for driving customer demand.

  1. Outline your vision for customer growth.
  2. Find your upsell champions.
  3. Organize your customer data.
  4. Map personas and your customer journey.
  5. Leverage data for propensity models.
  6. Create content that customers find engaging.
  7. Lean into new marketing channels.
  8. invest in your biggest customers.
  9. Educate your team on customer follow-up.
  10. Showcase your wins.

We hope that this was helpful and you've either picked up some new ideas or been inspired to build your own upsell and cross-sell marketing engine that will help drive value for your customers and revenue for your business.