I wrote an article last year about ‘Land and Expand’ in sales; around how to gain traction within existing customers by delivering high levels of service in one core area, and expanding out your sales efforts to other areas of your client’s organisation.
This is a proven strategy for many startups who maybe lack the reputation to win contracts at a corporate level with larger customers, but manage to make inroads into individual teams, and then once they have ‘landed’ they can ‘expand’ their offering out.
We recently worked with a client that demonstrated the land and expand theory perfectly.
We were brought in to deliver a standalone project. We were the outsiders, new to their organisation and, in their eyes; a risk. We focused on getting the initial service we had been contracted to deliver just right. We ensured that the customer services around that service worked to perfection – with accurate billing (apparently quite unusual in the cloud space we found out!), and a focus on communication and smoothing out the service delivery.
We ensured our processes ran without a hitch and didn’t walk before we could run. We just focused on what we had been asked to do, as a supplier. We didn’t ask about the other areas we knew we could help with, we just focused on the task at hand.
This meant that the customer was fundamentally happy with the service we delivered to them, and so was open to talking about other areas where we could help.
Then, when the customer experienced an issue with another supplier in a different area of their business, they came to us for our advice. This led to another project and so our ‘expansion’ into the account started.
An interesting, and counter-intuitive, realisation we have come to over the past 6 years delivering services to clients, is that in many cases, suppliers don’t make it easy for customers to engage with them. They make it difficult for clients to get in touch with them, their payment processes are complex or they overcomplicate their systems – so much so that it inhibits customers actually purchasing.
We’ve looked at how to make our processes simpler for the customer; not for us. We have focused on getting the framework right – from creating our onboarding packs for new managed services clients through to our regular customer support service review sessions. They will never be the most exciting part of the business, but they make a huge difference, and focusing on getting them right gives customers the confidence that we know what we’re doing.
The point is that we succeeded in this customer project because we didn’t go in trying to sell everything including the kitchen sink – we just focused on the part they needed help with at that time, and we focused on solving it to the best of our ability. This built up credibility, confidence and reassurance with the customer that we could be trusted to handle bigger projects.
This has led to us securing one of our biggest clients to date and is a clear example of the ‘land and expand’ theory working – and it is a critical way for small, specialist companies to win larger, corporate clients. It’s where agile, smaller companies can really differentiate themselves from the competition.
We’ve not chased every trend in the industry, we still do what we started off doing: enterprise hosting services with a few bits on the side, such as analytics and traditional resell of enterprise infrastructure. We’ve honed our processes and what we do, and we are still working on process improvement each year to make it all move along smoothly. That’s not to say there’s never a problem – we aren’t perfect. But we get it, we understand it and we do our best.
It’s land and expand sales theory in action.