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Adoption Selling

You know the traditional sales model; find the customer need, position your product, take the order, and move on to the next customer! This model is being radically changed. Every day a new web or “Cloud Services” is being created that allows anyone to dip their toe in the water to test the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), solution. The days of large one-time sales and long deployment cycles are quickly diminishing. According to the Technology Services Industry Association’s (TSIA) research, buyers are more educated and have already determined what they want to buy before the ever engage a sales person!


This requires a new sales model. Customers are expecting technology vendors to do more than sell products and services, they now must have a stake in helping the customer realize value from their investments. In the case of cloud services, this is quickly becoming a monthly subscription service. The vendor’s role is shifting from being a product provider to being a solution provider. This requires on-boarding, pilot groups and integration into key business workflows. Service providers must find a way to continually win the customer’s business every month or they will quickly be replaced by a competitor. The role of the solution provider is to embed the solution into the customer’s business processes and make it valuable and ultimately “sticky” This is the new sales model that focuses on expanding their footprint by driving successful outcomes for the customer.


The new role emerging is that of the “Adoption Consultant”. Their role is to link the customer’s desired business goals/outcomes to the software or service offering through the development of business use cases or specific workflows to achieve those outcomes. They create , and help the business users use the technology in pursuit of those business outcomes. Most customers are also assigned a Customer Success Manager (CSM), whose responsibility it is to ensure that the customer is optimizing and is satisfied with the technology over the term of their agreement, in hopes that they renew. Here is what the model looks like:

Many established technology companies that are used to investing before the sale, but minimizing expenses in support of the installation, consider these new roles an expense burden. This way of thinking could lead to a significant missed opportunity.


We suggest you think of your CSM as your next generation account executive. Today, you put your best sales people on your highest value customers. An aggressive hunter or a hungry junior rep may land a new logo, but if there’s a gold mine in the account, you turn it over to your best miners to tap it. This same skill should be applied to Customer Success in a regimented, predictable manner. Once a contract is landed, assign the CSM to create a Business Adoption Roadmap that outlines multiple business use cases for your customer to adopt. The initial high value use cases should be easy to deploy and possible with little customer investment, ensuring the customer gets more value out of their initial investment before they need to invest more. With proven adoption metrics, you can justify expanded business use cases that include additional products and services required to achieve the desired business outcomes. This is called Adoption Selling. The model looks like this:

This is the sales methodology of the future. The more business outcomes you create, the more integral to their business you, your company and your solutions are. Your core solutions expand and renew, and your adjacent solutions are more likely to sell. Most importantly, your customer is more likely to achieve their business outcomes using your solutions, ensuring they stay with you for many cycles and refer you to many other customers.


Author: Paul Bernstein

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