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October 7th, 2020

Selling Value, Not Features

By Liz Ferguson

Customer acquisition as we know it is changing.

You've seen the playbook before — grab all the logos you can. More logos = more success, right? More logos does mean more success. Initial success.

As we've discovered, the key to long-term success is keeping those customers around. Retention is Queen 👑, and the SaaS world has taken notice. And we're not talking about signing a renewal and calling it a day; we're talking about leveraging your customers as a source of growth and expansion throughout the entire customer journey — product expansion, brand awareness, customer referrals. It all starts by selling more than just your feature set.

Let's talk about value.

Customers often focus on your latest feature releases. But that means that defining value gets a little murky along the way. In the past, we've defined value as offering more and more shiny objects. (And of course, as your customers' needs shift, your offerings should adjust.)

Having clear, value-driven conversations should start with prospects, getting more specific throughout the sales process, with customer success continuing to define value in partnership with your customers. By having a shared understanding of what value means to your customer, you'll help them understand which shiny object will support their vision. ✨

Define, Evolve, Expand

We're entering a new SaaS era, where customer success now goes beyond just keeping the customer happy and getting the renewal. We must define, evolve, and expand value every step of the customer journey. We're breaking it down with your {fictitious} customer, The City of Outline, below. 

1. Define

What is the core problem your customer is trying to solve (focusing on value)? Do they want to save time? Money?

The City of Outline is moving to remote work like many other companies. To do that, they need to shift their employee training from in-person to an online platform, and they've chosen your SaaS solution. While they understand there will be an initial time investment, efficiency is critical, as is alignment with overall City values. And, just like everyone else, they're trying to save money while doing it. 

2. Evolve

Experience the solution alongside your customers and measure how it changes their workflow. What has changed since they initially purchased your solution?

Your contact at the City of Outline has questions about your product's employee training workflow. You could easily leave it at that, but to help them evolve, you work with them to identify a handful of other features they had not previously considered using. By revealing this workflow in a new light, your contact can reduce administrative burden and allow for a more enjoyable employee experience (double score!). It also allows employees to take more ownership over their training, supporting two of the City's core employee competencies - "ownership" and "growth".

3. Expand

This is where the drive to upsell used to take place blindly. Having had alignment conversations early on to identify success measurements, you're able to demonstrate where you've added value. Leverage your customer's happiness for product expansion, brand awareness, and referrals.

By showing the City of Outline the value your platform brings to their team, you've helped them create an online training solution that's managed effortlessly and with fantastic results. They refer you to a handful of other local municipalities looking to transition to remote employee training.

Data shows companies that focus primarily on acquisition are seeing less growth year over year. Companies that spend more time with a balanced approach, getting to know their customers continue to see stable and solid growth.*

"Tell your friends" is not just a meme. We know that by going beyond shiny new features and partnering with your customers to sell them value, a company is more likely to renew. Also, they're likely to tell their friends. To reliably grow your business, you need to sell value, and let your customers help with your selling.

*Patrick Campbell, Co-Founder & CEO ProfitWell (formerly Price Intelligently), Lessons Learned from 3000 SaaS Companies

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