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The Winning By Design Science Book™

CHAPTER ONE

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1.1      TRADITIONAL GROWTH MODEL

If we depict a 2-axis diagram with revenue and volume most companies wish to achieve high volume/high revenue. Conventional growth can take decades, with an incremental, single digit increase in revenue year over year.

 

Figure 1  Trajectory of traditional growth taking decades of incremental growth

 

Traditional companies avoid high volume/low revenue growth since this is a risky proposition. Imagine running a high volume business and you are making a loss because your supplier is going out of business. You suddenly are making a loss per product and at a high volume.

 

Figure 2  Traditional technology companies avoid high volume low revenue business

1.2     RAPID GROWTH MODEL

In a rapid growth model, companies travel the route of volume first. Rapid growth companies will “buy” their way into volume. Volume can be measured in users, logos, subscribers, usage, seats etc. Most traditional companies do not have deep enough pockets to fund an investment in growth over an extended time. Therefore the main focus becomes speed.

 

Figure 3  Start-ups pursue high volume/low revenue based on rapid growth (Freemium)

 

Many companies acquire this volume at high speed by “giving a service away for free”. This speed is measured in months to years vs. decades like the traditional model. To fund “Rapid Growth” for early stage companies, Venture Capital is brought in. Once high volume is achieved, the rapid growth business switches to monetization: a moment in time often referred to as a pivot of the business model. The service is more expensive; “free” features now require payment, surge rates, premium packages, and so on.

 

Figure 4  Importance of Pivoting of the business (raising prices)

 

Pivoting the business model and having your customer base adjust to the new model takes anywhere from days to months. As the business becomes profitable, it is key for your investors to cash out as the promise is high. Often this means your company getting acquired by a larger company. If the business stands on its own feet it is headed for an IPO. This explains why Growth and Speed are joined at the hip. We refer to this as Rapid Growth.

 

1.3     GROWTH EXPLAINED

Figure 5  Same revenue growth (ARR) year over year causes slow down growth

 

At the start of business a customer acquisition team grows revenue by $1M year over year (New ARR) whilst the renewals come in at 100%. As the new acquisition/renewals team steadily performs in the following years the growth reduces from 100% to 50%. This example depicts a common misunderstanding of growth: If you keep growing at the same ARR you are slowing down your growth rate.

 

1.4     GROWTH POTENTIAL

Figure 6  Understanding Growth Potential

 

Software products with an OpEx (SaaS) model experience exponential growth due to a variety of factors;

 

1.      An increase in Online Spend

B2B customers are increasing their online spend.  Previously they may have only spent $1,000 when buying a SaaS service online. Now the services have matured where buyers are spending 20x in online services is relatively comfortable. In person meetings are no longer required.

 

2.   An increase in Market Size:

Every seller now operates in a global marketplace with 10x more buyers, and buyers more accustomed to buying from remote providers.

 

3.  A compressed Sales Cycle

Today’s B2B customers buy a lot faster than ever before. They no longer are buying for a solution 12-18 months from now, but rather they are shopping for a solution to solve an immediate problem.

 

Table 1  How the numbers add up

1.5.1    PRODUCT/MARKET FIT AND THE IMPACT OF SALES HACKING

One of the most recent trends is the use of “growth hacking”. Growth hacking is a process of rapid...

Figure 7  Early stages of growth

 

Stage 1 Find Product Market Fit and test out Go To Market plans

This is the moment that a mature product is in a market with plenty of growth potential. This is one of the hardest to do in a market where innovative solutions are launching constantly and markets are never constant. However, founders are often passionate and well equipped in dealing with this situation.

Stage 2 Identify the Launch Window

One of the most common mistakes following product/market fit is when the fit is achieved and the company waits too long to scale to meet the market potential and misses the launch window. You often recognize these companies as #4, #5 of the list of alternatives with only a sliver of market share. Due to the increasing pace of innovation the launch window is shrinking from 18-36 months to 9-18 months.

Stage 3 Execute a proven GTM plan

The third and final hurdle to hit rapid growth is to execute the right Go To Market plan, often attributed to growing sales. It is the least understood topic, due to lack of education. Success of Executing the GTM is not measured in growth rate [%] or revenue [ARR] but rather against the growth potential.

 

Case In Point

In 2015 Randy had grown sales from $800k in ARR to $4M in ARR. A formidable feat celebrated with a new round of funding. In 2016 Randy was on track to grow the business from $4M to $6M with a big deal that could take it close to $7M. Randy was let go in July. Why?  In 2015 Randy had kept pace with the growth in the market. However the growth accelerated substantially in 2016.  Competitors were increasing their market share and Randy was falling behind.

Experimentation across marketing/sales channels, to identify Product/Market Fit, is the most effective and efficient way to grow a business. The challenge is that these organizations are primarily looking at the result, not using metrics to measure effectiveness and efficiency needed to scale the business. This growth of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) or annual recurring revenue (ARR) help in the short term, but do not provide insights on how to actually... This results in a simple plan to get to $10M. Do 10 x the plan that got us to $1M.

 

Keys to growth you have to identify during Product/Market Fit

  1. WHAT is the value proposition that prioritizes the solution offered
  2. WHO is the audience that has a real problem and is willing to take action
  3. HOW to get to the audience with the real problem in an efficient and effective way
Figure 8 Impact of sales hacking visualized

 

Due to the lack of measuring effectiveness and efficiency, the failures are also amplified by 10x. This means there is no real growth which results in a lower valuation of the company, and the firing of the sales leadership. The replacement sales leader lacks the context of the growth hacking results and blames this on poor sales execution of the sales people. The sales leader starts hiring new people… and with it the downward spiral continues.

 

Case In Point

Many SaaS companies can demonstrate the ability to get to $1M in ARR by pursuing 10,000 prospects with the “hack” of high frequency email chains to setup demos. However as these companies quadruple their sales teams they scale failure. This mimics tuna fishing with a fishing trawler using fine nets that destroy an entire ecosystem to catch a single tuna.  

REFERENCE: The Impact of Sales Hacking by Jacco van der Kooij

1.5.2      LAUNCH WINDOW

So how do you know when you are in a launch window? There are three clear tell tale signs.

 

Figure 9 Tell tale signs of being in the launch window

PRICE GOES UP

Instead of $24,000 in ARR you start winning clients at $48,000 ARR. This is indicative that you offer real value, and that your customers start to understand the impact of the value on their business.

 

WIN-RATE INCREASES

Win-rate is measured as the number of Sales Qualified Leads needed to win one deal. Instead of winning 1 out of 4.8 deals you now win 1 out of 3 deals. This is indicative of a stronger position in the market.  

SALES CYCLE DECREASES

The Sales Cycle is measured between SQL and WIN stage. For example the average sales cycle is now 71 days instead of 84 days. This indicates your customers are prioritizing your solution.

What do all of these have in common? These are data points that when entered correctly, and Interpreted correctly can be leveraged to make a data driven decision.

CASE IN POINT Common situations

 
  • One of our client’s database showed a single $200,000 annual contract (ACV) Enterprise deal with a 270 day sales cycle among dozens of $12,000 ACV deals with 28 days sales cycles.
  • An untrained sales manager gets a lead (SQL) and following a discovery call disqualifies it. Two months later the same lead re-enters and a new opportunity is created - the deal closes in a matter of weeks. The lead now is categorized with a shorter “sales cycle”
 Both examples indicate you need to a) segment your data, and b) keep it clean 

1.5.3    GTM EXECUTION

To meet the growth potential a Go To Market (GTM) plan is imperative.

Figure 10  When funding is used to scale growth

 

In this case we use the world's most common GTM plan: to achieve $30M. Do more of what you were doing 🙂 . E.g. to get to $30M do 3x what got you to $10M. As you can observe in the figure below, even when we grow the sales time by 3x, and they perform admirably the scaling still remains a challenge.

  

Figure 11  When funding is used to scale growth

This is commonly experienced in companies who depend primarily on an “outbound” approach. They find out the hard way that tripling the sales team, and tripling the activities does not triple the result. What is required is a more modern GTM model that has layers of revenue.

 

1.6     SCALING YOUR GROWTH

To avoid a scaling problem you have to think of your revenue as if it has layers.  An example below in which we:

  • Added regional teams to increase market coverage
  • Launched an additional service to uplift the price, and drive upsell / cross sell
  • Pursued a bigger market also known as moving upstream

Going after bigger deals is not just taking your best sales people and giving them a list with bigger companies. This requires that you segment the market, and develop a new GTM plan for that market.Figure 12  Layering of revenue.  Each layer may need a different GTM strategy

CHAPTER TWO

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2.1 Segmenting the Market

The picture below depicts pricing in the form of deal size (ACV) vs. volume. In subscription sales you can start with a freemium user, who start to pay, (pro-user), is part of a small company (VSB) or a group in a company (SMB), or a division of a regional company (MidMarket), or a subsidiary of a national company (Enterprise). Some companies even add global conglomerates (F500) to the picture.The Figure 13  Market segmentation based on Deal Size (ACV)

2.2 The Importance of the SMB Segment

 

When companies start in SMB and move towards Enterprise this is referred to as moving Up-Stream.  Companies that sell to the enterprise and are wish to sell to the faster paced SMB market or Pro-User market is called going Down-Stream.

The most common problem is that companies see that moving UpStream or Downstream is primarily that this is only something the sales focuses on.  However, following segmentation, a company must identify the impact for every department.  Pursuing a new segment needs to be a company initiative.

CASE IN POINT
A successful SaaS company is focused on the SMB market with an ACV of $12k. Soon enough they receive an inbound from a Mid Market opportunity with a $60-120k potential. Jamie the most successful SMB pro gets assigned. Jamie runs into all kind of new issues. Following months of work Jamie secures a Proof of Concept. No SMB revenue from Jamie, No Mid-Market revenue from Jamie, Jamie leaves the company. Different market - Different model - Different GTM

REFERENCE:  Blog post Going Upstream

 There are a few clear segments in which people sell B2B;

  • Enterprise/Company wide - selling a platform (CRM/ERP) using multi year contracts
  • Mid Market/Department - selling platforms and applications using annual contracts
  • SMB/Group like - selling applications using an annual/monthly/usage contract
  • Pro-user - selling a browser plug-in under a freemium/monthly/usage contract

 

Figure 14  The importance of the

Comparing spending flexibility you’ll find that Pro-user are cost-centric and max out at spending $1,000/yr. In the Mid-Market the value of a specific product is obscured by many other project and often you find yourself selling to only a small group or department at best. This Market uses lengthy RFP/RFQ purchasing procedures based on spending thresholds. SMB on the other end offers a greater flexibility, in spending anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000, and with shorter 30-90 day sales cycles.

 

CASE IN POINT An SMB with a $100k problem is willing to spend $12k on a solution. That same SMB is willing to spend 3x that for a $300k problem. 3x the problem - 3x the spend. An Enterprise with a $1M problem is willing to spend $100k, however it is hard to convince the enterprise to spend 3x the money for 3x the problem. Purchasing procedures and spending thresholds put in place over decades have flattened our spending flexibility. It explains why so many SaaS startups use SMB as a jumping board. This in comparison to Perpetual Software who uses the Enterprise market as their jumping board.

2.3 Different GTM Approaches

If you are selling at $5 a month - to - month Chrome plugin to a Pro - user it is foolish to expect a sales - person to travel across country for an in - person demonstration. Likewise you can’t expect an Enterprise client to commit to a $100,000 platform by simply surfing a website and entering their credit card. Each has a different Go To Market approach based on a different client acquisition cost (CAC).

Figure 15  Depiction of GTM Approaches as a function of Annual Contract Value

Below you will see the variety of GTM Approaches we know per today as a function of Annual Contract Volume and Volume of Deals/Month. Each of these approaches is modeled against the best customer experience. For Web-sales that may be optimized for speed (online), and for Local Sales for complexity (integration in existing infrastructure).

Figure 16 Depiction of GTM models as a function of Annual Contract Value

 

FREEMIUM

Clients sign up for a free service. Client gets hooked and has to pay for more premium services (e.g. more storage, personalization). A common strategy is to use Freemium clients as LeadGen. Transactions are processed online via credit card, questions are addressed through FAQ and Youtube videos. Think of a Google Chrome Plug-in/extension.

 

WEB SALES

If multiple customers from the same domain name sign-up for a Freemium account a company can convince them of a “Corporate License” with “security” as a feature. This can be automated. This sales For example LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Subscription.

 

ONLINE SALES

As a solution becomes more comprehensive clients have more questions as complexity increases for example signing up for a Zoom.us group license. Clients want to “talk” to someone instead of using the online FAQ. Online chat offers a solution where Inside Sales Rep (ISR) addressing the client’s questions. This is preferred over inbound phone calls to avoid any challenges with accents etc.

 

INSIDE SALES (OUTREACH)

Inbound Centric - As the solution increases in complexity once again more questions arise and clients go through a purchasing procedure. They need assistance. Clients reach out to talk to an Expert (Account Executive). A Sales Development Rep picks up the phone and directs the call based on the qualification. This works well for growth organizations that leverage marketing to generate inbound.

Outbound Centric - The solution does not generate enough inbound, and/or the amount of inbound generated does not provide enough quality. A group of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) is used to identify and contact prospective clients and set up meetings with solution experts (AEs). This is one of the most common approaches to kick - start sales, and it is often based on a service that sits on a platform (CRM).

 

FIELD SALES FORCE

This applies more to platform sales such as an ERP or CRM. Clients demand integration with their database, workflow etc. Clients want to discuss their specific situation and their customized needs. A sales professional gets on an airplane and visits the customers. To identify these customers you need a more sophisticated approach with an Account Development Rep (ADR) who targets multiple people in the account with coherent messaging. This is often split by region to keep the travel cost low.

 

LOCAL SALES FORCE

If you are targeting a small set of specific accounts with a platform, think of an Marketing Automation System that offers to overhaul the existing provider. You may wish to target AT&T Dallas and therefore use a local sales approach with a Dallas based Sales Executive. The local sales professional is expected to have in depth relationships within the account, to allow smooth navigation through the org-chart This the most costly approach but it also comes with the highest rewards. This approach is often reserved for million dollar deals, under a multi - year, wall - to - wall enterprise deal to warrant the cost associated with a dedicated resource.

 

CHAPTER THREE

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Intro

Every Go To Market (GTM) model consist of a series of processes. In table 2 you find an overview of a variety of processes for three different parts of the business.

Table 2. Variety of Sales Processes

3.1 PROSPECTING

There are different prospecting processes. Different GTM models will benefit from different prospecting processes. Each of these processes aims to initiate a conversation. A prospect who matches the profile of a client (is a fit) and expresses interest to be assisted (has a pain) through the sales process is called a Sales Qualified Lead or SQL.

This interaction can be by phone, email, text message etc. Each interaction is referred to as a TAP. The frequency and application of such TAPs can be across a number of DAYs and the number of people your prospecting team reaches out to or ICPs-  and - people on your team that you leverage to reach out to them.

We can use this to create three different kind of prospecting processes.

Figure 17 Prospecting Formula Explains

3.1.1 Prospecting Processes

Inbound

In response to an inbound (demo) request you reach out to a customer with a call/email/voicemail sequence and offer your assistance. Below an example of such as sequence.

Figure 18 Example of a sequence of taps

 

Outbound

Following preparation a group of 10 - 100 clients was identified who all experience a similar problem. To address them more effectively you are using volume outbound using X amount of taps across Y amount days. For example a VP of Marketing sequence of 5 taps over 12 days equals 5 x 12 sequence/touchplan/cadence. Each of the taps can be an email/phone/social tap etc. Extreme caution is needed as an untrained salesforce can cause severe damage.

 Targeting or Account Based Prospecting

In targeting we are tapping specific people (ICPs) within the same account across multiple days. For example tapping 3 ICPs (a VP, a Manager, and a User) 5 times across 12 days in a very specific order = 5 x 12 x 3 outbound sequence/touchplan/cadence. In this case it is key that you have to line-up the right kind of insights to match to the value proposition of each individual ICP. It is discouraged to address three different ICPs with the same value proposition/insights.

Figure 19 Example of 7 x 18, a sequence of 7 touches across 3 weeks

Over the past years we have two new processes developing, in Account Based Prospecting and Content Based Prospecting. Each of these two create a variety of either targeting or inbound.

Account Based Marketing / Target Account Selling

In the ABM approach we are no longer using just a “SDR” to perform the prospecting but we are involving multiple people on the sales team to engage with multiple people inside a client. This requires skills such as ghost writing for VPs and CxO officers by the SDR and/or AE.

If you are using 3 people from your team to address 3 people at your client, using 7 touches, across 18 days, you are running a ( 5 x 12 x 3 ) / 3 campaign.

 

Figure 20 Account Based Marketing involves many more people beyond a Sales Development Rep

Content Based Prospecting

Another approach is to use Content as your “outbound” in this approach a client receives access to extremely valuable insights such as market research that are published in the public domain. Clients who may have a pain engage with the content. We can use this content in an outbound sequence allowing us to create more relevance in our outbound.

However instead of making the outbound more relevant we can also create a call to action in the content that lead to hyper relevant inbound. This inbound can be personalized with use-cases, examples, and products that relate to the content written. In this case the role of the sales development no longer is to set up a meeting through emails and calls but rather to take developed content, and create hyper personalized inbound paths, then distribute content in places where a client can find them. This creates a hyper personalized inbound. In effect content is used as the “outbound” call.

3.1.2 Efficiency and Effectiveness

In the figure below you see prospecting processes mapped to effectiveness and efficiency. This is an artistic impression.

Figure 21 Visualization of effectiveness and efficiency of different prospecting processes

Only now are we obtain data to start drawing the above picture, and determine where best to invest our resources. The picture above is not static, it can differ based on what a company is selling, which market it is selling and even what time of development, early on with a new innovation or as the product is in maturation.

Identifying effectiveness and efficiency of prospecting must be part of Product Market Fit!

To scale growth, a company must determine which prospecting approach it is going to use. It cannot copy its hacking techniques used to get to 1M in ARR. Similar to its product, its GTM must be design based on data obtained during testing in the approach to get to $1 - 2 million in ARR.

Below an example of how to obtain data and make this a data driven decision.

Table 3 Mapping effectiveness and efficiency of different prospecting programs

3.1.3 General trends on prospecting processes

In general we know that low cost products benefit from inbound, and high dollar solution benefit from targeted outbound. If we use general trends and apply it to the the following picture starts to apply. It must be mentioned that although one process may dominate per GTM multiple processes are likely to apply.

Figure 22 Mapping prospecting processes to GTM approaches

3.2 WINNING

Similar to prospecting there are a variety of known approaches often referred to as sales methodologies. Each of these approaches has a very specific activities. The right sequence of these activities creates different sales processes.

Winning By Design Sales Methodology

 

Figure 23 The Winning By Design sales methodology (4 of the 6 stages of SaaS sales)  

Looking at the above picture we notice a few special points such as the description of stages in customer experiences, and the lack of “close” or “won” but rather “Commit” and “Live”. These point to a customer centric sales methodology. But also the key role of the onboarding stage. This is critical in SaaS where profits are generated far into the future.

 Sales Approaches inside a SaaS Sales Methodology 

We can now map various sales approaches against a SaaS centered customer centric methodology

Figure 24 Sales Approaches Mapped to a Customer Centric methodology

3.2.1 Transactional Selling

The transactional sales process is a responsive process. Customers know exactly what they want and they are price shopping for the best price and lead times. They may be willing to forfeit a specific feature if it can save them a lot of money. Clients don’t value the role salespeople perform and prefer that salespeople be excluded from the process altogether, or replaced by web-based and text/chat in which they get straight and short answers.

Figure 25. Transactional Selling in which clients do most of the education on their own

Transactional selling is best used in high volume/low cost. Think of $5-$240 ACV, <5 day sales cycle.

3.2.2 Solution Selling

The solution sales process is a responsive process. Customers already understand the problem in depth and they have a good idea of what they are looking for. They are not quite price shopping (making it transactional) as they are looking for very specific features, for which they are willing to pay a bit more. They often have already narrowed it down to 2 or 3 providers they like to work with. 

Figure 26. Solution Selling often following an Inbound Lead

Solution selling is best used in high volume, high velocity based inbound. Think of selling $5,000 ACV, <30 day sales cycles, and cutting 20+ deals per month/POD

 

3.2.3 Consultative Selling

In consultative selling you are investing early - on in the client to educate them what is important based on what you have seen in the market. You are educating the customer on the real problem and how to look at the right solution. Your experience is represented in their requirements in the form of features and functionality. This makes a consultative sale generally longer. During the consultative sales process you gradually ramp up the quality of resources as you navigate through an organization.

Figure 27. Consultative Selling often following Outbound Lead Generation/Development

Consultative selling is best used selling a platform like solution, involving a number of decision makers. Think of a CRM selling for $10 - 50k, 6 - 9 month sales cycle, and 3 - 5 deals per month/POD.

 

3.2.4 Provocative Selling

While presenting an innovative solution that challenges the status quo, it is not doable to rely on the consultative process, since most clients do not realize there is a lurking problem. In this case you have to rely on another approach called Provocative Selling which gained popularity through the Challenger sales methodology.

Figure 28. Provocative Selling Only recommended to deploy on specific accounts.

Provocative selling is best used to secure strategic and sizable deals such as your top 5 opportunities, or a partnership. Think of deals $100 - 500k, sales cycle 3 - 9 months, and winning 1 - 2 every quarter.

CHAPTER FOUR

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Conclusion

To develop a growth plan, a modern start-up can no longer rely on a 2 - stage (SDR/AE) sales organization. It needs a highly sophisticated multi-tiered approach. Below an outline of how to achieve that.

STEP 1  Determine Growth Path, and establish revenue/volume expectations per market

Figure 29. Growth based on 3 different segments (SMB, Mid Market, and Enterprise)

Figure 30. Visualization of growth expectations based on price and volume of deals

Figure 31. Mapping GTM strategies to the market segmentation

Figure 32. Matching this to the right Prospecting Approach

Outbound:

  • 1 - 1 Outbound for targeted outreach
  • 1 - Many for Event Outreach
  • Social for content outreach

Target:

  • Account Based Prospecting (targeting 3 people per account) for Mid Market, and
  • Target Account Selling (targeting multiple people using your team) for Larger deals

STEP 5  Identify the right sales approach

Figure 33. Matching your GTM  with the right Sales Approach

SMB

$ x,000 ACV per Deal $ x,xxx,000 in revue Y,yyy deals per year
Outbound based prospecting
Solution Selling

MID

$ xx,000 ACV per Deal $ x,xxx,000 in revue Yyy deals per year
Account based prospecting
Consultative Selling

ENT

$ xxx,000 ACV per Deal $ x,xxx,000 in revue Yy deals per year
Account Based Marketing
Provocative Selling

CHAPTER FIVE

Limitations of a 2-Stage Sales Organization

2 Stages sales organizations consist of SDRs who set up meetings for AEs who close clients, as outlined in the book Predictable Revenue. This approach has been found to have its limitations due its nature of being based on volume outbound. Volume based outbound is relying on sending thousands of Emails and making thousands of Phone calls every day. Below you notice how the ACV of SMB deals of this example company no longer allow the use of volume based 2 - stage sales cycles. If an SDR/AE organization would only close 3 deals @ ACV of $6,000 = 36 x $6,000 = $216,000 in ARR per year. If we would need 1 SDR (generating 15 SQLs/month) and 1 AE (converting 1 in 5) to close this amount of business we would need $80,000 in SDR salaries and $150,000 in AE salaries = $230,000. The more business you’d win the more money you’d lose in year 1. You normally would say you’d recoup that in year 2, but the cost of customer success also kick-in, churn to existing accounts, etc.

 

Figure 34. ACV of $6,000 has become too low for a GTM using a 2-stage sales model

SOLUTION 1:  Lower SDR/AE compensation. This means moving the team to cheaper locations. Although this improves it a bit, for most companies the efficiency lost being remote from the sales team results in reduced effectiveness (lower amount of meetings) nullifying the impact or worse.

Figure 35. Shifting the GTM model to a content based outbound model

SOLUTION 2: Apply a different prospecting process. It is remarkable how few companies pursue an alternative process.

Figure 36. Increasing the Annual Contract Value makes the Inside Sales Organization work again

 

SOLUTION 3:  Increase the "price". This is often a product of industry factors. It doesn't have to be just year 1 price, it can also refer to an increased Lifetime Value. E.g. if your LTV goes from 2 to 3 years or if you have a reasonable upsell/cross sell along the road (like in AdTech).

 

Figure 37. Move upstream and retrain the inside sales team to work on bigger deals

SOLUTION 4: Move UpStream. Companies with an offer that appeals to Mid Market and Enterprise can decide to Move Upstream, not just by increasing the price but also increasing the offer and the advanced needs these markets have. See more in this recent post Moving Upstream.