In our latest Insider Interview series, Tim Riesterer, the Chief Strategy and Research Officer at Corporate Visions, shared some of the key insights from his new book, The Expansion Sale. This book uses scientific research to explain how the buying psychology of existing customers differs from that of new customers and shows how to adapt your engagement strategies accordingly. Read the interview below to learn what he had to say.

Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Expansion Sale? 

The Expansion Sale is the culmination of many years of academic research we’ve conducted on the difference between customer acquisition and customer expansion messaging. While there have been plenty of books written about how to acquire new customers, The Expansion Sale is the first book that shows you how to keep and grow the customers you already have.

According to many analysts, your existing customers represent 70–80 percent of your revenue and growth opportunities. Yet, even as the more and more businesses move toward recurring revenue models, the vast majority still rely on a one-size-fits all approach to marketing, sales, and customer success. They use identical messages when renewing and up-selling existing customers as they did to acquire those customers in the first place.

But recent research proves this approach will backfire. The buying psychology of your existing customer is 180 degrees different from the psychology of your prospect. Which means the stories and skills you use to communicate with them needs to be tailored to their unique situation and frame of mind.

The Expansion Sale focuses on four acute commercial moments in every customer relationship: renewals, price increases, up-sells, and apologies. And in the book, you’ll get research-backed message frameworks and the skills needed to deliver your message in these make-or-break moments.

What are some of the key concepts you cover when it comes to growing revenue from your existing customers? 

One side of The Expansion Sale is dedicated to our research around the “four must-win moments.” We’ve conducted the most rigorous academic studies out there in the areas of renewals, price increases, up-sells, and apologies within a B2B setting.

But, the messages in each of these moments are only one part of the equation—you also need to understand how to skillfully tell the story. Not only do you need to make it memorable and persuasive, but you also have to know which story to tell at the right time—and through which channel. This is what we call Situational Fluency—having the awareness of each unique customer situation and applying the right message and skills in that moment.

Scientifically proven messages and a well-choreographed delivery are the two sides of winning more revenue and growth from your customer conversations. And The Expansion Sale covers both in great detail.

What is the biggest difference when it comes to communicating with new prospects vs. existing customers?

The biggest difference is context. Throughout the book we talk about what behavioral scientists call “The Context Effect,” meaning the influence of environmental factors on the perception of a stimulus. The Context Effect is critical for the success of marketing, sales, and customer success. It’s not your product or service that gets people to respond. It’s not the title on their business card. It’s their environmental factors and their current situation that determine their perception of your solution.

For example, when you’re talking to a new prospect, you’re trying to convince them to change from their current situation and choose you. In this context, you need to challenge their status quo with a provocative and compelling message—what we call the Why Change story. But when you’re talking to an existing customer, trying to convince them to renew with you, the context changes. You ARE their status quo. So the most effective approach is to reinforce your incumbent position and re-sell your value as part of your Why Stay story.

What do you hope marketing and sales teams get out of reading this book?

As I write this, The Expansion Sale is the #1 book in the Business Sales, Business Marketing, and Customer Relations categories on Amazon. So the concepts here clearly apply to all three functions.

Marketers can use the research and frameworks in this book to develop more effective messages for customer growth. Sellers will gain a greater understanding of their buyer psychology and how to skillfully deliver these messages in specific situations. And Customer Success can benefit from understanding how to frame the value of their solutions and protect their customer relationships from the threat of competition. 


Interested in Growing your Business Faster with better Customer Engagement Strategies?

Read the Expansion Sale, which is available on Amazon, or at your local bookstore. 

Watch our latest webinar with Tim Riesterer, where you’ll be guided through:

  • Using Technology Intelligence to both acquire and expand customers
  • The psychological differences between current and prospective customers
  • The most effective messaging frameworks for acquisition and expansion campaigns
  • Tools that can help you prioritize, personalize and automate your outreach

About Tim Riesterer:

Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Research Officer at Corporate Visions, is dedicated to improving the messages marketing creates for the field and the conversations salespeople have with prospects and customers. A visionary thought leader, keynote speaker, and practitioner with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and sales management, Riesterer is co-author of four books, including Customer Message Management, Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, The Three Value Conversations, and The Expansion Sale.