Whitespace Analysis: The Missing Sales Metric

5 minute read

What if we told you that measuring the sales whitespace potential in accounts can mean life or death for many B2B companies? It’s often a big blind spot for companies of all sizes — middle market up to the Fortune 500.

Think of the metrics commonly tracked by businesses — from bookings, to billings, to their backlog, conversion rates, deal sizes, renewals, NPS, and more. What’s often missing? Tracking pipeline potential from the existing customer base.

Increased Account Penetration Boosts Revenue

Even as account planning, account-based selling, cross-selling and upselling are buzzwords in professional services and other B2B industries, there is often not a great handle on how much opportunity exists in current accounts, or how the company is performing on delivering against that upside.

Overlook this at your own peril. New logos are increasingly difficult to land as many companies pull back from trying new products or services in an effort to survive a tougher business environment.


Whitespace in Account Planning


Whitespace is the Most Overlooked Sales Channel

No matter how great sales is and how many new prospects they bring in the door, it’s always easier and more cost effective to upsell existing customers. Your customers already know you, see value in what you offer, and know that you’re likely to better understand and predict what they’ll need and want as they grow.

Surprisingly tricky to measure, whitespace is the existing opportunity within customer accounts to cross-sell and up-sell. Once your team has done the hard work of cultivating a relationship, instilling themselves as a trusted advisor, and landing a deal, without a strategy to effectively target whitespace they are not reaping 100% of the fruit of their labor. Still, most companies undervalue this critical sales channel, often to the point where they haven’t even set up key performance indicators (KPIs) around it. And many company leaders know it’s a missing element.

According to a recent study, companies have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer vs. a 5-20% chance of selling to a new customer. This could in part account for the fact that 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.

So, leaders know they are leaving money on the table. The reason is often an inconsistent approach to account planning, which includes gathering the relevant customer data to see the opportunity.

Targeting Whitespace in Existing Accounts

While sophisticated B2B sales leaders and organizations have been doing account planning for years, most can’t clearly report KPIs around this whitespace and the potential pipeline from current accounts. The information they need is locked in silos: individual spreadsheets, brains, and regional QBR roll-ups. It’s hidden in marketing campaigns or upsell and cross-sell motions that don’t clearly track interactions at the sales region, product portfolio, or line of business level.

Most sales reviews and account summaries lack a standard way to capture potential pipeline or whitespace opportunity, much less customer needs and pain points. Giving visibility to and measuring whitespace opportunities is the first step to developing an account strategy to unlock more revenue in your key customer accounts.

Imagine being able to discern how much potential for upsell you have across all accounts, and then setting up metrics and goals to win that business.

For example, as the sales leader of multi-product company, being able to quickly see not only active pipeline and existing business under contract, but also a summary view of new potential pipeline for a large multi-national account with multiple business lines and multiple geographies. From the summary, view you can rapidly dig into the details to see a whitespace analysis that summarizes all the different business lines and all the open whitespace where you can concentrate sales and marketing efforts to unlock new potential.

This whitespace view and potential pipeline should be in your CRM, not trapped in Excel.

Now is the Time to Target Sales Whitespace

While digital selling was the trend that kicked off the 2020s, according to Anne Slough, Principle Analyst at Forester, we are actually seeing a return to face to face selling. “As economic uncertainty continues to loom, a renewed focus on expansion, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities will create demand for deep relationship building through a customer-obsessed lens” says Slough. This means that effective sales strategies are resetting, putting a renewed emphasis on relationships and  existing account pipeline as an important KPI.

Here’s the good news: no matter how you perform in upselling, this exercise won’t be in vain.

In a business environment like this, it is critical that sales and customer service teams have a deep understanding of their existing customers and their problems. Gathering that information up and looking at it will pay off regardless. After all, the best defense is a good offense. Account planning can and should be viewed as a way to defend the existing customer base as the real opportunity is to use account planning as a proactive strategy to invest in existing customers and relationships. Deep insight, a focus on customers, and the ability to visualize the whitespace are critical elements to unlock new potential and growth.

By breaking this information out of silos so it can be collected and shared, sales can form a thesis around each existing customer, furthering their sales with a better understanding of customer goals and how the company can help. That’s how to visualize whitespace and use it to shape upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Those sales leaders and teams who can track, monitor, and clearly articulate potential pipeline as a KPI are on the right track to deliver revenue growth in any sales environment.

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