Expansion Selling: A Proactive Data-Driven Strategy Framework


As SaaS businesses gain traction and customers begin to adopt their solution at scale, the next step is to drive customer expansion. Since existing customers are usually more willing to buy, companies typically offer additional solutions and features in the form of upsells and cross-sells. This enables the company to deliver additional value to customers while generating more revenue.

However, most companies are at a disadvantage because they use the same sales strategy for both new and existing customers. This approach, however flawed, may produce some results, but it will be far from optimal. From experience, the best method is to interpret and leverage available customer data to develop a different strategy for expansion selling campaigns.

“Most companies are at a disadvantage because they use the same sales strategy for both new and existing customers.”

Formulating a sales strategy based on existing customer data delivers better results than ad-hoc methods because it can be proactively tailored to customer needs and business goals. Based on how it is collected, customer data can be grouped into:

  • Qualitative Data;   obtained from customer-facing personnel.
  • Quantitative Data; obtained from different systems.

The most appropriate time to leverage customer data to drive new sales opportunities for existing customers is after sales and implementation are successfully completed. This may be after a year when customers have fully adopted the product and your interaction allows for account expansion.

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data is obtained from customer-facing teams and personnel. This includes the support team, customer success team, delivery or service team, and account managers. These teams can serve as listening posts to curate data about the customer’s needs. The data is then transferred to the executive in charge of customer expansion, where it is translated into useful information that frames the up-sell strategy.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data is often readily available but underutilized for customer expansion campaigns. Support data trends, if properly tracked, can reveal which customers to target for additional training packages. Usage data, survey data, and online community discussions can be used to identify customers with additional business needs or interests in additional services. Sales data may also help to predict which customers require additional services based on the combination of different products they purchased or a lack of certain services in a mix of solutions that are typically purchased together.

Thinking Ahead

Many companies upsell after their customers express a need for additional services. Instead, businesses should be proactive in identifying expansion opportunities through recurring campaigns. This can be done by consistently tracking these three customer data points:

  • Consumption Trends: This is a comparison of customer purchases against solution adoption.
  • Adoption Trends: This is based on the frequency and amount of usage and which solutions customers aren’t actually using.
  • Goals and KPIs: This shows how much value the customer derives from the solutions and if they achieved their business goals with it.

Companies can, therefore, run proactive, targeted, and profitable quarterly campaigns that are solely driven by the customer’s consumption and adoption trends. These recurring campaigns may be run alongside ad hoc campaigns for new products and services.

Businesses should be proactive in identifying expansion opportunities through recurring campaigns

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Expansion Selling Strategy Framework

You can utilize this framework to develop an expansion strategy that is proven to generate more results than merely waiting for customer ad hoc requests or CSM suggestions:

    1. Identify Outcomes: Determine which of your customer’s business needs your solutions can address, your customer’s expected business outcomes, and what service levels your customers are accustomed to from other vendors.
    2. Define Offering: Based on the solutions you offer, define appropriate upsell or cross-sell bundles for different sets of customer needs. Document your expansion playbooks in detail for future recurring campaigns.
  1. Find Triggers: Use customer data to identify a list of customers that are likely to have those business needs.
  2. Compile a List: Create a list of customer success qualified leads (CSQL) that the account manager or CSM can contact to validate that the business needs exist.
  3. Launch Campaign: Create a short or ongoing campaign to test the expansion playbooks. Offer a bonus to accelerate the adoption of the new plays. Adjust and improve your campaigns every quarter.


Customer data can be gathered and translated into actionable insights that can be used to define a better and more targeted expansion campaign strategy. This proactive approach delivers better results than using standard sales strategies for existing customers.

Written By:
Irit Eizips

Irit is the Chief Customer Officer & CEO at CSM Practice, is a world-renowned expert on customer retention, upsells, cross-sells, and customer value strategies and methodologies. Since 2013, Irit has been pivotal in shaping Customer Success best practices. She has been nominated as a top Customer Success strategist and influencer, year after year, since 2013. Irit was recently named one of the Top 150 Global Customer Experience Thought Leaders and Influencers of 2020. She is frequently producing thought leadership on her youtube channel (CSM Practice) and is often featured as a speaker at conferences and Customer Success publications.


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