Sales Effectiveness Blog Professional Services Blog

Why Your Land-and-Expand Sales Strategy Isn't Working

by Rachel Clapp Miller /

chess-resized.pngThere isn’t a sales organization out there that isn’t trying to increase revenue, either by selling more complex deals with their current prospects or by expanding their solution set with current customers. If you are having challenges with your own land and expand strategy, it likely comes down to how you are equipping your reps to support expansion in their accounts and how your company is aligned behind your sales enablement strategy.

Here are two key questions to ask:

  1. Are we using land and expand as a default strategy? In other words, we don’t really have a sales process, or our reps can’t get high in accounts, so we are using land and expand as a default strategy.
  2. How is my organization internally able to support the expand? When there are many customer-facing functions in my company (services, product, marketing), they all have to be aligned in order to effectively expand the solution.

Often, when companies execute a land and expand strategy – they fail to really think through the challenges that it presents.

Below are five key challenges that may be crippling your land-and-expand efforts.

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5 Challenges Crippling Your Land-And-Expand Efforts

1. The Incumbent 

If you’re trying to land and expand in an account, it is extremely difficult to edge out an incumbent. Your incumbents have the advantage in the account because they have the relationships and they’re embedded in the account.

When you get in with a pilot project or a small roll-out, you’re giving the competitor the chance to block your expansion. It’s extremely difficult to expand to a broader solution.

2. Fast-paced Technology

If you’re selling a technological solution, and you’re relying on a land and expand strategy, you better move quickly because when you’re trying to land – technology is evolving.

When you’re a low-cost solution it’s easy for customers to switch to something new and better.

3. False Sense of Security

When you start small in an account, it can give you a false sense of security. "We got into X account!" We can now say we have this logo!

You’re in the account, but you’re likely in an area that has limited power and limited budget. It’s very easy to rest on our laurels when we get into a big company without an identified strategy.

4. Gaps in Your Solution

The lack of an expansion strategy may also be mistaken by your customers as a gap in your solution.  Don't let customers think you sold a smaller solution because your larger solution wasn’t adequate enough for their organization.

5. Branded as the “One-off” Initiative

This final challenge may be hurting your sales organization more than you realize. If you land, but don’t expand, you’re branded as a one-off initiative. You become known as the pilot project, or “a proof of concept.” The challenge is that when you get beyond a technical buyer and when CEOs, CFOs or CIOs hear about your solution, they may perceive it as a “rogue” initiative, not tied to the greater business issue.

It’s a hard “brand” to overcome and can make it extremely difficult to gain cross functional buy-in from other departments, because you are perceived as a one-off and not an integral part of a larger strategy.

So what’s the solution? The key is to enable your reps to (1) target the right people within the account to aid your expansion and (2) provide the content and tools they need to have conversations that increase the value for the customer. 




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