Acquisition is not the same as expansion

21st March 2019 |   Journal Of Sales Transformation

In sales, acquiring new business and expanding existing relationships is not the same thing – in which case, why do so many companies have the same conversations with prospects as they do with customers?

Over the past two years we have undertaken new, original research focused on existing customer conversations. After a decade of hype surrounding the provocative selling approach, our research has discovered that this strategy can backfire during important commercial moments with your current clients.

We’ve published both sets of findings in this Journal. Scientific studies that show how you must disrupt status quo bias when trying to displace an incumbent. And, then further studies demonstrate that you must reinforce status quo bias when you need to defend your incumbency and get your customers to do more with you.

Diary date

This is an important distinction that many companies miss.

One-size-fits-all messaging is disadvantageous

It can mean that you end up applying the same one-size-fits-all approach to your opportunity management activities as you do with your account-development activities. Doing this, our research has shown, can:

  • decrease your likelihood of renewals,
  • increase the risk of defection during price increases, and
  • lower the possibility of upsells.

What this means is you could be putting 75-80% of your growth at risk.

Industry averages indicate that most of your company’s revenue (75-80%) will come from existing customer renewals, price increases, and add-on sales each year. And, only a quarter of your target will be achieved through new business acquisition. However, the investment and effort as indicated by budget and resources is disproportionately allocated the other way – where significantly more is poured into new logos versus keeping and building the ones you already have.

Customer acquisition is  not the same as customer expansion

Figure 1: Customer acquisition is not the same as customer expansion.

Customer success as a commercial activity

Whether you have dedicated account managers, client managers or customer success managers – or, indeed, if you ask your salespeople to wear both hats, acquisition and expansion – your customer-facing representatives need to know the critical differences between the two types of conversation:

First, your acquisition process and your expansion approach answer fundamentally different questions for the prospect versus the customer.

Second, the buyer psychology involved is almost completely different.

And third, as a result, your approach – both stories and skills – to these engagements must reflect these very real differences (Figure 1).

Introducing a marketing and sales conference focused on expansion

While you can find tons of books, webcasts and conferences telling you how to win more new business, there is little to no help for mastering the existing customer commercial conversations.

But, that is all about to change with the 1st Annual Customer Expansion Marketing and Sales Conference presented by The International Journal of Sales Transformation and Corporate Visions. The conference is slated to take place on 25 September 2019 in London, with the full agenda to be announced soon.

While the logistics are still being finalised, the agenda is already taking shape. It will be a jam-packed day, dedicated to helping you to improve your success in the four acute commercial moments associated with your customer success programmes (Figure 2).

Four key moments

Figure 2: Four key moments in an existing commercial relationship – renewals, price increases, apologies and upgrades.

Conference agenda topics

Renewals – Learn the optimal messaging framework for ensuring you retain your existing customer contracts and subscriptions. Find out how companies have been using this approach to avoid RFPs and even expand their share with customers just by changing their renewal messaging.

You must disrupt status quo bias when trying to displace an incumbent. Further studies demonstrate that you must reinforce status quo bias when you need to defend your incumbency and get your customers to do more with you.

Price Increases – Discover the best way to present and pass along a price increase as part of your growth strategy. See how companies are recapturing some of the margin they might have leaked during the original sales process, or make sure they get the premium needed to cover any product or service improvements.

Apologies – Get a tested, proven messaging approach for effectively handling the critical conversation with customers that comes along with the almost inevitable product or service failure. Examine the elements companies can use to create even greater customer satisfaction and loyalty following a problem compared with if the customer had never experienced an issue in the first place.

Upgrades – Find out what it takes to get your customers to move to your next upgrade, instead of lagging on old products or systems (so making making them vulnerable to the competition). See how companies are using the right mix of partnership and provocation to get customers to evolve and do more.

What’s in it for you?

Bringing together business leaders and senior academic researchers under the objective banner of the International Journal of Sales Transformation, this conference promises to be authoritative, objective and informative. Exploring the opportunities around different messaging approaches, the conference will feature:

  • exciting, new and counter-intuitive research;
  • scientifically backed messaging approaches, story frameworks and delivery skills;
  • presentations and mini-workshops put on by the researchers and the practitioners who are applying these new findings in their companies and proving the business impact.

To learn more about these issues and to receive the latest news and updates on this conference please register at