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If you have followed TSIA over the years, you’re familiar with the LAER concept: Land, Adopt, Expand, and Renew as illustrated below:
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This model provides a framework for discussing the business capabilities required for technology companies to sell, onboard, and then grow and renew customers, which plays out differently for the traditional capital acquisition sales model than for the XaaS sales model. 

As companies adopt the recurring revenue model they experience a shift, where the customer has the power to make a smaller initial investment in products and services, subscribe to the products and services over the life of the relationship, and then change the solution with a relatively lower barrier of exit.   

This power shift has given rise to a renewed focus on value selling. Sales professionals can no longer cast the sale from a solution perspective and move on. They must provide continuous engagement and alignment to outcomes promised and outcomes delivered. Profitable relationships typically exist when a customer subscribes to a company’s products and services over a long period of time. Early cancellations and deep discounts drive high-growth profiles, but they also result in negative net operating incomes (NOI). Therefore, we see a shift in the fundamental business capabilities required to sell the solution and then to renew.

Over the past 10 years, TSIA has tracked the source of revenue between product sales and service sales, and the trend is very clear: Product revenue is going down and service revenue (recurring revenue) is going up.

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Implications on Land Selling

Understanding the need to address customers' outcome expectations and acknowledging that selling today is a team event is important, and requires a tight handshake between Sales, Customer Success, Solutions Engineering, and Renewals teams. In an XaaS model, additional capabilities and steps are required, including:

  • Identified outcomes
  • Known financial goals
  • Baselined operating KPIs
  • A value realization plan
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Defined scope and timeline

Time to value is critical in an XaaS model, and any misstep in the Sales to Customer Success handoff can quickly lead to an abandoned relationship. 

To avoid missteps, TSIA recommends the following:

  1. Start focusing on outcome value as early as you can in the pre-sales process – the earlier the better. In fact, value selling starts in Product Management. Today’s product managers are becoming well versed in understanding the journey and desired outcomes of the customer. They listen with an ear for the lifecycle and build products, not so much on speeds and feeds, but on the outcomes that the customer values. Products are built so that they can be sold on value, the value can be measured, and outcomes can be monetized. It’s the responsibility of the Land Sales Executive to make sure that their people understand and articulate the value to achieve the sale.
  2. During prospecting, engage new and existing customers with industry relevant offers that have a high-level description of outcome value. You must then lead the customer discovery with relevant insights and articulate how your proven solutions deliver tangible results.
  3. Develop processes, templates, and content to challenge sub-optimal RFPs with an alternative approach focused on business value and a set of insights to differentiate. You can also use this approach to re-engage customers who have reached the “no decision” phase with messaging around how your solution will impact their business priorities. If you’ve developed these competencies, your sales team will minimize discounting discussions by maintaining focus on the business value that your solution will deliver. 
  4. Make sure that the whole team aligns for the “AER” portion of LAER by bringing together all parties involved in value realization to ensure clarity of roles and responsibilities and to “stack-hands” on THE PLAN. By building alignment and engaging the rest of the team early in the process, you will avoid costly regression activities to fix oversights caused by selling solo and without true alignment to the customer's desired value outcome.

Implications on Renewal Selling

In an XaaS model, the renewal motion begins at the point of sale. Leading technology companies deploy customer success managers earlier in the sales cycle to ensure customers are receiving their services, and accessing the value purchased. 

Delivering on the promise is central to building long-term relationships in the XaaS model. CSM’s run onboarding plays, adoption plays, and health-check plays to assess the customer's usage of the product and to adjust and assist as the customer journey continues.

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In an XaaS model, renewal specialists continue the value journey beyond the initial transaction by reconnecting with the promise. 

Did the customer achieve the desired outcomes? 

This question sets the tone for the renewal. The renewal specialist, whether a CSM or a dedicated renewal role, will pivot to the customer's needs during the renewal process. If the customer indicates a failure to deliver, they need to ask why. What adjustments are required to recalibrate the solution to the customer? Do they need additional training? Better support? Did they purchase more than needed? Perhaps the customer is thrilled with the solution but needs more. This is a clear buying signal to the renewal representative and a pivot to upsell or cross-sell the solution.

The renewal specialist is not the end of the road for the relationship, but a next step towards the second phase in the lifecycle. TSIA refers to this business model as Renewal Value Management, the process of connecting to the promise, recalibrating to new value desired, and positioning the customer for the next product that supports their emerging lifecycle needs. 

The Renewal Specialist must achieve sales goals, just like the Land Sales Executive, but the output should be an aligned solution and positioning for the next purchase. Once the Renewal Specialist completes their activity, the CSM should continue the day-to-day care of the customer, and the Land Executive is positioned for their next opportunity.

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TSIA Recommends:

1. Building Strategic Alignment 

At the executive level of the company, form the strategic understanding, alignment, and commitment to a recurring revenue strategy and a culture of customer outcomes. With aligned leadership and commitment, you may access tremendous growth opportunities to your traditional lines of business and increase company value and resiliency for the future.

2. Benchmarking Your Current State

Every journey starts from your current state. Benchmarking your sales and business operations can provide valuable insights and greatly shorten the time to outcomes when partnering with experts such as TSIA.

3. Including Customer Outcomes as a Key Business Capability

By organizing and grading all elements of your business capabilities towards the capability to design, measure, sell, and deliver outcomes, you position your business model to sustain long term relationships with your customer base; a fundamental requirement for profitable XaaS businesses.

4. Adopting a Continuous Journey of Sale, Adopt, Expand, and Renew

Linking the customer journey on a continuous loop that integrates and consolidates the actions of the customer facing functions, you reduce handoff issues and you constantly prepare for the next phase of the lifecycle.
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Martin Dove

About Author Martin Dove

Martin Dove is the former vice president of subscription sales research for TSIA and brought a unique set of experiences and insights on outcome-based selling and subscription sales methodologies. Martin helped TSIA members navigate the journey to being more outcome-based in the way they sell and to optimize their organization’s sales of subscription, or “as a service” offers, to both new and existing customers.