Expand and maintain your accounts in an economic downturn

The positive side of economic downturns is that they remind our companies to focus on what matters. A big part of that is your existing customer base. But too often, the reaction to economic hard times is to cling to our best customers and fight against churn.

Preventing churn is essential. Absolutely. But reacting to churn is about as conservative an approach as a revenue team can have. By being proactive to recognize churn—and actually emphasizing account expansion over simple account retention—you can take advantage of the current economic climate to continue mattering to your current customers.

(Going even further than account expansion to create new revenue streams also opens up opportunity in a downturn. Read about that in this twin article.)

This tough economic climate is your organization’s chance to re-evaluate how you build ICPs. Adopting new strategies now enables you to equip your revenue teams with the best targets for expansion and the best tools to stay ahead of churn, streamlining their efforts and maximizing your results.

 

Exegraphics build a better ICP.

Too often, an ICP fits in four or five bullets on a PowerPoint slide. These are usually firmographic indicators of a prospect’s industry, size, location or revenue—and are often ineffective ways of describing your actual best targets. 

That’s why we at Rev developed exegraphics: pieces of information or characteristics that describe not only how a company looks, but also how it behaves. Our Sales Development Platform builds AI-driven ICPs that are complex and dynamic models of what makes your current best customers your best. Using our platform, you could build an aiCP that uncovers the exegraphic traits your past successful expansions share, in order to identify your best prospects for future growth within your existing customer base.

(Read our in-depth explorations of how exegraphics and aiCPs work.)

These cutting-edge tools equip B2B sales teams with more than gut feel and superficial information. In a downturn, you can’t afford to waste efforts on unlikely candidates. Identifying and analyzing companies that share exegraphic traits uncovers the most likely roster of current customers primed for expansion, and which ones need particular attention just to retain.

 

Optimize your approach to account expansion.

In tough times, customers are often tightening their belts, and upselling is not always a strategic move. But exegraphic data can demonstrate the trends for the accounts that have already expanded, looking behind the curtain at information that may not be apparent to human eyes.

For instance: an account manager can see a new CTO as an opportunity for that organization to adopt some new technology. But that account manager likely won’t know what’s happening with staffing at other levels, and it may be that a tech team scaling more rapidly than the rest of the organization is a much better predictor for adopting new tech than a recent executive hire.

A natural tendency for account expansion is to simply target accounts that are “most friendly,” “highest spending” or “high activity,” but those labels don’t address whether the customer has other problems that your product suite can solve. (Many customers don’t even know what all your offerings are!) Identifying exegraphic predictors for adopting new tech among your current customer base is far more likely to bear fruit than these more superficial indicators.

It also makes sense to create an aiCP for each one of your products or services. Getting granular about not only who is ripe for expansion, but who is ripe for expansion in which direction, keeps your aim centered and results in more successful targeting. 

Depending on the size of your customer base, it might also be important to segment existing accounts into 1:1, 1:few or 1:many engagement plans, according to their exegraphic matches. This segmentation enables account managers to spend the most time with customers that are high-fit for expansion opportunities. 

No matter the scale and complexity of your offerings, the granular insights provided by exegraphic data are wildly useful for identifying which current accounts are ripe for upsells and expansion—because on an operational level, your product will address a need that your current customers are likely already experiencing, whether they realize it or not.

 

Identify early signals to stay ahead of churn.

Likewise, it’s critical to stay alert for the inverse—changing exegraphics that signal a company’s likelihood of moving away from your product or service.

Churn happens for a whole plethora of reasons. Companies downsize in tough economic times; they also pivot in new directions and evaluate what products and services to keep on board as they scale.

Unless your company is a real unicorn, you have experienced churn. Use that experience to your advantage! Examine the customers you’ve lost before. This exegraphic data, which inherently changes as a company evolves, can reveal traits common to your lost accounts—as well as early signals that you can now anticipate in your current account base.

Of course, you cannot keep every account forever. But imagine the power of your revenue team being able to connect with changing companies and address their needs and pain points before they even consider shifting away from your products. Perhaps they need expansion; perhaps they need to convert to a different offering, or to turn particular features on and off.

At the very least, these accounts experience your team engaging with them as they grow, responding to both internal and external changes, attempting to tailor their engagement with their product to reflect their current reality. That alone can retain certain businesses, and it also makes them more likely to trust in your ongoing responsiveness.

Being proactive in this way is a powerful approach for reducing churn and sticking with companies as they transition.

 

Final thoughts: Play offense.

Economic tough times often inspire revenue teams to get picky. It’s a defensive approach: save resources, exert sparingly. But getting smart about resources can also mean getting ever more efficient in their use to hone and sharpen your revenue ops.

So many competitors are playing defense that you can go on the offense. It’s a matter of being responsive instead of reactive. You recognize that resources are tighter for everyone right now, so offer the expansions that make sense to your customers (whether they realize it or not), and provide value for the customers you want to retain.

After all, every dollar matters in this and other hard times—so make yourself count now, for the benefit of your customers, and you’ll still matter to them when times turn around again.

Get a view into the exegrachics behind your best customers. Contact us and we’ll show you what your aiCP looks like.

What are exegraphics?

Straight up, the B2B world does not get measured and tracked the same as the B2C world. Years ago, consumer sales vendors used to track just demographics. Today, they know a ridiculous amount beyond your age, your gender or your location: the large data attractors (think Amazon or Google) can predict what you’ll want to buy, before you know it yourself.

There is no such thing in the B2B world. No giant data attractor for companies that want to know what other companies need. No way to predict who the most likely, or most ideal, customers for a product or service will be.

So at Rev we decided to construct that information ourselves. A deep picture about companies—what they produce, how they behave, how they work—helps our customers to identify other potential clients much like the way the e-commerce giants can target you as an individual consumer.

Anything you could want to know about a company, we call an exegraphic: a piece of information or a characteristic that conveys how a company executes its mission.

Let’s take a look at what exactly exegraphics are, and how they help companies like yours find more and better prospects, faster.

 

Exegraphics capture how a company projects itself to the world.

Exegraphics require us to look at companies in two major ways. The first is, what does a company say about itself? All companies make promises (both explicit and implicit) to their market about what their goods and services can accomplish, how they conduct themselves, and what stands them apart from their competition.

This external facet captures both functional language and messaging: both what a company says and how it says it. Essentially, our models take in however a business communicates its value to the public. We generally capture this information on company websites and social media platforms, as well as other similar sources.

The difference between collecting firmographics and collecting exegraphics is their depth. Just as B2C companies have moved from demographics to psychographics, B2B needs to shift from firmographics to exegraphics. 

No large or successful B2C company would be satisfied with making decisions based merely on demographics anymore. Psychographics simply tell a better story about where a consumer is positioned. Exegraphics do the same thing for B2B companies: they extend beyond firmographics not only to tell you the industry a company is in, but also to show you how it positions itself—and how they operate—within that industry.

 

Exegraphics puzzle out how a company functions on the inside.

The second major way exegraphics require us to look at a company is, how does it function on the inside? This one is less immediately apparent. Most companies don’t publish how large their legal team is, or how fast their software department is scaling. And these things are not always discernible from external projections.

Think of it like this: two companies can be in the same field, offering competing services. One does it with an army of people, and the other does it with five AI engineers and a bunch of robots. One of these companies might be your ideal candidate, and the other a worthless lead.

Exegraphics get to the difference by looking inside. Our model turns to professional networking sites and similar platforms to build a sense of who works at a company—what are their functions? their responsibilities? their skills? their professional backgrounds? It also looks at job postings to determine what the company is asking for in potential employees.

Whereas the first way exegraphics look at companies focuses on a company’s position in its industry and the value it offers to its market, this one focuses on the functions of people within the company, and how those functions are built, sized and prioritized.

 

Exegraphics figure out these things millions of times to place companies among their peers.

A human being with time and the internet could do that work for a single company. In a day, a team might be able to assemble information for a hundred. But to be of any significant use, you need to do it for the thousands upon thousands of companies in existence. Rev uses a mix of powerful AI technologies to undertake the sense-making by doing what a human would do, millions of times over: read websites, resumes, and job postings to create a clear picture of any characteristic of what a company does and how they do it—then compiling how individual prospects compare to their aggregated peers.

What industry a company is in is a firmographic. So is the fraction of people at that company who are in the legal function. Now, the model looks at the peers—same industry, same basic size—and evaluates if the legal team is about what you’d expect, way bigger or way smaller. And bam! You have an exegraphic that helps you understand that potential customer’s position.

Context matters for any exegraphic. You have to know what peer group you’re comparing to in order for exegraphics to matter. For example, you’d expect a large software team at a software company. But at a dog-walking service, one developer means that company is probably a software giant compared to its peers. Same for other considerations—slow growth in one industry might be massive growth in another. Or, one company scaling when others in its industry are contracting might offer you valuable insights into their behavior.

 

Exegraphics account for change over time.

Comparing peers tells you the relative bench strength of a company in distinct functional areas. Exegraphics can also account for how those strengths have changed and are changing.

Let’s say that you’re selling cloud-based accounting solutions. You’ve identified a bunch of growing prospects. Great—growth is one such exegraphic. Now you can identify the ones whose accounting departments are actually shrinking. These accountants might be overwhelmed; maybe they need new solutions, or maybe it’s hard to hire good accountants in their area and they need something to change.

Now you’ve identified clients who not only fit your audience, but who also have a reasonably demonstrable need for your services.

In this way, you can think of any exegraphic having a characteristic called speed or velocity. How quickly does it change, and in what direction? On an individual level, change is constantly happening. Companies hire and fire people all the time, and workers move between jobs. But looking at groups over time, exegraphics can identify trends within a single company and relate them to shifts across an industry.

Exegraphics can also identify sudden changes. We’ve developed new data sources around funding, for example. Companies that close a round of venture capital have loads more money in the bank overnight. But those kinds of changes don’t happen that often; sudden hiring changes do, however, especially in scaling companies. 

For instance, an emerging Acme Inc. is probably growing their marketing team right now. They’ll have a lot of new hires, and the average tenure will be pretty low. That would be good to know if you wanted to sell them your marketing solution—Acme finally has people who can use this stuff, and marketing is clearly a growing priority for them. And if it’s a priority, they might spend some money to do it right.

That’s the premise and the value of examining change through exegraphics.

 

Exegraphics stack multiple factors to identify top target accounts.

Each single exegraphic can feel pretty powerful to hold. You’ve just identified how many software engineers a whole bunch of companies have. You’ve even identified which ones are growing most rapidly. It’s like magic.

It’s also not a full solution. Individual exegraphics are really handy for getting your first grasp of the concept. But relying on isolated exegraphics will always have limitations. Instead, you want to stack several of them together to get a more multi-dimensional identification of top target accounts.

For starters: not only do you want a team with a need for your product—you want one with the funding to buy what you’re offering.

It turns out humans are really bad at considering multiple factors at once, combining them in a way that makes sense. Humans want to make rules. In or out. Yes or no. What our exegraphic models do instead is weigh the evidence and determine what is worth more points to your query, and what’s worth less, to deliver a more nuanced, inclusive understanding of how companies operate.

 

Exegraphics deliver you companies that look (and act) like your very best customers.

You’ve already got your best customers. The ones you wish every new customer could be like. But you may not know all the reasons why these are your best customers. What are their defining characteristics?

After you feed our Sales Development Platform the Seed List of your very best existing customers, it creates an aiCP (essentially, a lookalike model) to tap into, say, fifty or sixty exegraphic characteristics of those companies and figures out what traits they share. You don’t need to know what the data patterns are—the AI will identify them.

Then the model finds other companies whose combinations of distinctive exegraphics are comparable to your best customers. Essentially, it solves your give-me-more-like-these problem, a million times closer to instantaneously than a human team could manage, and in complex ways that humans simply can’t.

 

Exegraphics let you drive.

Rev’s AI doesn’t think like a human being. It creates and evaluates exegraphics with a points-based system. It also doesn’t make all the final decisions for you: rather, the model translates its points-based system into terms we humans can understand—industries, functions, growth rates, things like that. Once the model finds your lookalikes, you can define and apply lenses to whittle down the prospect list with your own considerations in mind.

To aid in that process, Rev’s exegraphic data and lookalike technology also lets you know which exegraphics are the most defining characteristics of your best-fit accounts. Once you have your list of more-like-these, you can use both exegraphics and traditional firmographics to sort or filter target lists to fit your sales and marketing goals and processes.

Just as an example—perhaps you want to focus on potential customers within a certain region. You can filter the results by geography. Or, you want to see which lookalikes are at a particular size. Easy.

The possibilities really are limitless. If you can dream up something you’d like to know about companies, our tool can take a credible shot at it for you. It’s a unique and valuable offering in the world of B2B commerce, where for too long we’ve been driving in the dark.

Want to see how exegraphics work? Schedule a demo, and we’ll show you our 500+ exegraphic lenses and show you how you can create your own.