How to Supercharge Your Customer Expansion Strategy

The sustained growth that can only come from retaining and expanding your customer base relies on sales reps who consistently build genuine relationships with customers. 

That work starts with determining where a customer is today, understanding where they’re going in the future, and seeing how you can help them bridge the gap. It means the process of renewing existing customers is a proactive effort that begins far before a contract is set to expire, with clear milestones that can drive engagement, attention, and outreach when it’s needed most. 

At ZoomInfo, we tend to think of a successful customer retention and expansion strategy as having three key phases: planning, execution, and enablement. Here’s how we put it all together.

Planning: How to Create a Data-Driven Strategy

In my experience, there are four key steps for developing a clearly defined execution plan with measurable success metrics.

  1. Alignment. Internal communication and alignment between corporate and sales objectives are crucial for success. Without clear communication, sales teams may miss important objectives and continue operating within their comfort zones instead of pushing themselves to improve.
  2. Setting SMART goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By setting clear and aligned goals, sales reps have a target to strive for and their activities remain closely tied to corporate objectives.
  3. Measuring progress. Custom sales manager reports can provide valuable insights into the team’s progress toward sales goals. By focusing on the right metrics — such as customer loyalty ranking — sales managers can identify areas for improvement and take appropriate action.
  4. Coaching. Sales directors play a crucial role in providing guidance and support to their team. By analyzing sales reports and identifying potential obstacles, sales directors can engage in coaching conversations with individual sales reps. 

Execution: Tools & Tactics

Your sales strategy won’t come to life without specific tools and tactics to execute the plan. An accessible, accurate, and actionable data foundation makes all the difference, and integrated tools are what make a data platform truly effective. 

From there, you can develop tactics based on those insights. Our team uses GTM Plays, which are a collection of playbooks to help drive efficiency at every stage of the customer journey. Here are some examples of how we use GTM Plays during the customer renewal and expansion process:


Upsell and cross-sell opportunities are all about getting existing customers to buy into additional products and services that your business offers. Here are some specific plays to try out: Cross-sell targeting, web visit upsell, and product feature announcement

For example, you might notice that an existing customer is running low on seats or credits within your platform. This is a simple upsell opportunity to get the customer to purchase additional seats or credits. 

You might also start seeing intent signals that show that an existing customer is looking for a new product your company offers. The customer might not know that your business also offers the additional solution they’re interested in — a good opportunity for your reps to start selling that new product.


The goal of any retention play is to prove the value of your products to ensure your customer renews their contract. Value needs to be proven over time, not just at the end of an existing contract.

Running specific plays to promote early renewal engagement, such as at-risk customer surveys, low adoption engagement, and automated customer referrals generate better results in the long run.

With these plays, your reps can automatically keep track of customer engagement throughout the year, reducing the opportunity for surprises when renewal conversations begin. Additionally, having these ongoing tactics in place can help raise any red flags sooner, so your team can come up with a solution to keep the customer happy and engaged. 


Winbacks are some of the most challenging scenarios for account management teams to navigate, but with the proper tactics in place, you can greatly increase the likelihood of winning back lost accounts. 

Conversations around winbacks need to be rooted in re-engaging the customer, understanding why they were unsatisfied, and creating a solution to renew the relationship. Some of the best tactics we use for winback conversations are contacting external moves, and a specific play to win back churned customers.

Enablement & Coaching

You’ve created your sales strategy and identified the tools and tactics you’ll be using. Next up is enablement. Sales reps need to be trained to use the tactics in your playbooks and coached through your company’s sales methodology. 

When it comes to enablement, you might decide to choose a methodology like MEDDIC or Challenger and guide your reps through its finer points. Enablement needs to happen early and often when reps are onboarded to make sure they can effectively sell your products and speak to the complexities of a new feature.

Enabling reps is also all about proper coaching. These conversations should start with feedback from the reps themselves, allowing them to reflect on their performance and identify areas for development. A tailored coaching plan can then be created to address specific challenges and improve performance.

I take advantage of Chorus as a way to track a rep’s progress and identify coaching opportunities. The reality is I can’t be present for every live call or listen to the recording for every call — it’s simply not scalable. With Chorus’ post-meeting summaries, I can read notes after a call, pick up any red flags that might have been triggered, and work one-on-one with the rep to create a solution.

This helps with forecasting and making sure the team is on track. One of the biggest frustrations with sales teams is slipped accounts that aren’t necessarily a lost cause, but just keep falling off pace and losing traction. Having insight into the context of the calls is essential for me to determine whether this is truly a lost cause or if it’s a coaching opportunity. 

Within any sale, there are between six and 12 decision-makers that you need to win over. You may only interact with one or two of those decision-makers on a day-to-day basis, but behind the scenes is an entire team that you also need to win over. 

This is where I lean into the ZoomInfo app within Salesforce to see the full org chart at a particular business. I often ask my reps how many people they’re in conversations with at a particular business compared to the number of people likely to be in the decision-maker’s seat, such as a director or vice president.

This becomes especially important when thinking about a renewal because you have to consider the network effect that occurs within a business. You need to connect with every cohort at the business — users, sales leaders, operations, finance, and marketing. 

As you keep digging, you’ll do a better job of solving the actual problem the business is facing and deliver value to everyone involved in the decision-making process. You can always nurse a symptom, but treating the root problem is how you will close more deals. 

Key Takeaway: Invest in the Right People

Each of these can serve as the baseline for your sales strategy. But in order to drive success, close more deals, and create a scalable sales function, your greatest investment is in people.

I’ve developed my own philosophy for what “good” looks like. The number one characteristic of reps I look to hire is curiosity — this is what creates a virtuous cycle of learning, self-development, and grit. Sales is not an easy job, but when you create a strong culture, your strategy will undoubtedly succeed.

I often reference a quote from management consultant and author Peter Drucker: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

If you don’t have the people to execute any given plan, then your strategy is really just a house of cards. But with the right culture — one that values strong relationships, true problem-solving, and continuous learning — your expansion strategy can become the fuel for sustained growth that helps you and your customers win.