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Why Your Land and Expand Strategy Needs Customer Success

Blog by Ian Luck
February 14, 2018

Many b2b sales strategies are encapsulated by the idea of “land and expand.” A strategy that says first “get your foot in the door,” and then make an effort to expand your products or services throughout a company.

Any land and expand strategy though needs a way of seeing where it is heading. Are you flying blind or do you know how likely you are to succeed?

The “Old School” Land and Expand meant:

  • Starting out with a low cost installation to prove case.
  • Servicing beyond belief.
  • Opportunity chart (who can we sell to in the organization).
  • After which you hope you close it - FINGERS CROSSED.

The "21st century" Land and Expand means:

  • Setting criteria for success of a pilot - what does success look like?
  • Starting out with a low cost installation, service it, and map the opportunity chart.
  • Surveying customers 30, 60, 90 days.
  • Prove case - work together with client to close it.

Now you have a system for land and expand that has predictors built-in. The following article outlines just why you need a 21st century land and expand strategy, and how this translates into success.

Land & Expand

So you have your foot in the door and you have a pilot program running or a 6-month trial.

It can be anywhere from three to six months before you close the deal, but how certain are you that you will be successful? You may be optimistic but does your customer see it the same way, will you or won’t you succeed?

Is your product being well received? Two dominant reasons affect this:

1) Those classified as “end users” don’t care about such things as ROI or increased revenue. They care about how it helps them function within their role. Does it hinder, greatly help them or simply go unnoticed?

Your product needs to have a functional benefit. And while negativity about your product is bad, even apathy will mean a lack of conversation about your product throughout an organization. You want people voluntarily talking about your product, not saying “yeah its ok,” when they are pressed to talk about it.

2) The decision makers and influencers – C-level and management – are in many ways interested in very different aspects of your product than end users. While they profess to find important that which end users do, and many do, what really matters to this group is how the product helps the company grow, bring in revenue or meet targets.

For any expansion strategy to be successful, influencer endorsement is important but it is critical that decision makers see your product as a benefit to their business. For without the endorsement of decision makers your expansion strategy won’t go anywhere.

Probing for Success

[caption id="attachment_14649" align="alignright" width="297"]Business people Together, define criteria and use metrics to measure.[/caption]

Using metrics gives you insight into whether you are meeting the criteria your product is being judged on. The tangible feedback allows you to respond in real-time, discuss issues raised and take action to address problems.

Pilot program or a mission to expand, make sure customers are successful with your product/services by surveying them every 30 days with metrics such as NPS, CES and CSAT.

Create a set of criteria by which to be measured on, define these at the beginning of the relationship and make these your key targets to hit. Make agreements with customers stating that if you hit these key targets, the product goes to a full roll-out.

The Ins & Outs of Land & Expand Surveys

Customer feedback surveys should offer insights into different levels of a company. Knowing what decision makers, influencers and end users are thinking allows one to understand specifically where problems are arising.

Common Scenarios

For example, a number of individuals within an end user group are not happy. Their dissatisfaction is not with an isolated "fluke" problem, but instead with an inherent trait of your product. However, this problem has not become apparent to the large majority of end users yet. Becoming aware of such structural problems before they become systemic problems means they can be cured before they cause any real damage to your land and expand strategy.

Maybe its the case that end users love your product and think its hitting all the right points but it isn’t being communicated to decision makers. Or conversely the trial of your product has come as top-down directive but there doesn’t seem to be much uptake by end users. What is happening, something is clearly going wrong at the influencer level but what? Survey influencers and show them how your product can help them meet their targets.

Surveying customers should be done with the different levels of a company specifically in mind, because feedback has no meaning without context.

The Ins & Outs Continued….

Survey your customers regularly (every 30 days), but don’t overstep it otherwise your respondents will start to feel surveys to be overbearing. At the beginning of the relationship, inform them how often you plan to carry out the surveys so they are prepared.

After each round of surveying contact respondents and discuss their feedback. Even responding to positive feedback is not a waste, as it will add that high-touch experience.

[caption id="attachment_14667" align="aligncenter" width="1184"]land-expand Use a survey tool that provides real-time feedback to address problems immediately[/caption]

As stated above surveys should look to gain a picture of different levels of a company, but more than this they should capture an even representation of all levels within the company. If for example you have less influencers responding than decision makers, then your sample is not representative and needs adjusting.

Important: Know exactly the decision makers that are involved in any land or expand endeavour. Is it just the CFO or the CFO and CEO? This will help you understand what they are looking for in your product and the information they need to be provided with.

In Conclusion

The success of your land and expand strategy depends on your customer success. To create this:

  1. Set criteria with your customer upon the outset of your relationship.
  2. Survey customers using metrics to discover how you are or aren’t making the customer successful with your product.
  3. Make sure you survey decision makers, influencers and end users.
    1. Make sure it is an even representation of the different levels.
  4. Try to survey the customer every 30 days, in order to maintain a continual updated customer “point of view.”
  5. Remember decision makers and influencers tend to be more growth and target orientated in their needs, whilst end users are more functional. Seek to meet both groups needs.

Feedback metrics don’t resolve problems, but you can’t resolve problems if you don’t know what they are. To learn more, hear from our customers just how metrics helped them improve their customer success.

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