Let’s say you’re a salesperson, selling a B2B cloud computing solution. Your product is exceptional, but your business is relatively new and, in turn, relatively unknown. The vast majority of companies don’t know who you are, how reliable you can be, and what your product is capable of.

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With all that in mind, do you think you could walk into a large enterprise’s lobby, land a meeting with the CEO, and convince them to overhaul the entire company’s cloud computing infrastructure and implement your solution immediately?

Unless you’re a legitimate hypnotist (one who lives in a mystical forest and doesn’t perform on cruise ships), you probably won’t have much luck. And that doesn’t have anything to do with your sales skills. It’s just too big an ask, occurring far too early in a customer relationship.

There needs to be a progression. You need to start smaller and go from there.

That process is the basis for what’s known as a "Land and Expand" strategy — one of the most prominent, effective tactics for creating, sustaining, and extracting value from a productive customer relationship.

For the sake of example, let's assume you work for a company that sells construction project management software. You manage to land a deal with a regional fast-food chain. The company is looking to construct five new franchises in a nearby city.

By the "Land and Expand" methodology, you would do everything in your power to serve that company better than your competitors ever could, after landing that initial deal.

Give its employees comprehensive training on how to implement and leverage your software. Remain mindful of any customer support needs they might have. Be on their constant beck and call to address any concerns that may arise throughout the course of your time working with them.

Do anything and everything to ensure you’re building a productive, long-lasting relationship with the business.

Let's say the first deal goes well. The company leverages your software and is able to finish the project weeks ahead of schedule. Everyone's ecstatic, but you don't stop there. The strategy doesn't end with a single successful job.

Once the company starts to trust you, try to expand your influence within the organization by selling your product to solve any problems you're qualified to address. Look across different departments and into new projects. Take advantage of every viable sales opportunity.

In this example, that could mean selling your product to help with projects like individual restaurant construction, renovating existing buildings, or any other possible scenario that might warrant the use of a construction project management software to further the chain's business interests.

Don't limit yourself to the exact same people within the organization you were working with initially. And with every new project, continue to provide the best service possible — keep building and sustaining a healthy relationship with the chain as a whole.

A few years pass, and the chain is poised for a major transition. They’re expanding their business into different regions — building 500 new restaurants across the country.

Since you’ve so diligently established a constructive, reliable relationship with this company, its executives look to you and your product before any of your competitors. All your effort and exemplary service pays off, and you’re able to land this massive deal. You've officially expanded from where you landed.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Keep maintaining this relationship and pursuing opportunities within this company. If this chain is part of a larger conglomerate, see if the reputation you’ve cultivated with this subsidiary can get your foot in the door for even bigger deals than the project you just landed.

"Land and expand," at its core, is a truly customer-centric philosophy. The most important aspect of the tactic is trust. You need your customers to trust you with increasingly significant projects, and more so, you have to deliver on the promises you make and consistently do great work.

Be there for your customers in every way you can. If they have questions, be quick and comprehensive in answering them. If problems arise with your product or service, drop what you're doing to ensure they're addressed.

Make your customers feel important. Make them feel like a priority. Make them feel like the relationship you have with them is something that both you and their company need. Give them service they won't be able to find elsewhere.

Keep that mentality in mind when implementing this strategy, and you'll be in a solid position when it comes to landing and expanding.

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Originally published Feb 25, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated May 08 2020

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Account Based Sales