Land… THEN Expand

Big, relatively easy commissions await.
But you have to Land first.

During a recent Sales Accelerator session that you may have attended, we do a segment where we talk about the “Sales Playbook”. It has three steps; (1) Differentiate, (2) Land, then (3) Expand.

Differentiation happens by pitching no-code solutions to your customer’s real application development problems. No one else is pitching them on these technologies or value propositions. Whether it’s time, cost, hiring troubles, security issues, control, or compliance; a no-code offer is a truly differentiated offer. Even if your customers choose a different direction, they very likely will appreciate your educating them on no-code.

Expansion happens after you’ve sold an early deployment or two and your customer has witnessed firsthand that all of your value messaging is 100% true. They believe you and are finally starting to assess the benefits of a broader organizational deployment of your no-code offering. During this expansion phase, instead of having to work tirelessly and negotiate fiercely to get that win, they are simply sending work your way. You are adding professional services, you are adding recurring revenue, and you are bringing along other practice areas; all with minimum effort. Although it may not be as simple as “order taking” it’s moving in that direction.

But somewhere between differentiating yourself, and expanding, you have to Land. In all of this process, landing is the single most critical and technically challenging part of the process. Landing is where the strength of your relationship, your knowledge of the customer and the skill of your salesmanship will be put to the test.

So, what are the best practice steps for landing your first sale? We’ll review four of them.

1. Initially, leverage your relationship to fact-find, not to sell.

Your relationship is best leveraged to get key answers and keep the momentum moving forward. There are some important questions below that your relationship will help you get the answers to. This is where you need to focus to have the best chance of landing. Later in the process, you will leverage your relationship to keep the momentum moving forward, and in the end, they will be buying because they trust you. However, early on it’s important to bring your team answers to the below questions.

2. Find the easiest place to land

A large organization has a wide range of IT needs. Imagine a chart plotting the customer’s applications, where on the bottom you see an axis entitled “the importance of the application to the organization”, and going up the left side you see a second axis entitled “application complexity”. Importance is a measure of the criticality of the application to organization effectiveness. Complexity is a measure of time and budget set aside for an application; the size of the headache. Plot every application on this chart, and divide it into four quadrants:

  • Upper Right: Important and Complex. These are typically ERP-level systems and are not a good place to try and land. These systems are mature and the vendors are entrenched. It’s a big budget area with a high barrier to entry.

  • Lower Left: Unimportant and Simple. These applications typically don’t command a lot of attention or budget. These also are not a good focus place as these are not “need to have” and there is little budget.

  • Upper Left: Unimportant and Complex. While this might at first seem like a good place to focus, the fact that these applications are not a “need to have” makes them a hit or miss as to whether you can win a sale here. It’s important to note that pursuing these applications is a common sales mistake. They seem good, and your customer may even want to talk about them, but in the end, there just isn’t a lot of demand or budget to do anything about it. These sales cycles stall.

  • Lower Right: Important and Simple. This is a great place to start looking. There’s attention, time and budget, and it’s a small enough application that the customer isn’t as concerned about how it gets done. It may even be able to be procured by the customer with a lower level of signing authority. This is a great place to try and “Land”.

3. Seek desperation

It’s important to understand this one simple truism: early adoption of a technology product is driven by desperation more than any other factor. Think about that for a second. If people aren’t desperate they are not likely to take an early adoption risk. Desperation comes in a variety of forms: 

  • budgetary constraints
  • regulatory hurdles
  • time constraints
  • hiring difficulties
  • …and much more
In the end, these are the factors that drive early adoption. If a given application doesn’t have any of these problems your chances of Landing on that application diminish greatly.

4. Timing is everything

In all of our experiences, a sale comes because a deadline is approaching. If there’s no clear deadline to deliver the application then your chances of Landing on that application diminish. Many customers talk about all the things they want to do, and they are sincere in that desire, however, without a deadline looming the sale frequently stalls as the customer simply isn’t pressured to make the decision.


Knowing how to “Land” is the single most important factor in going from zero revenue to Expand-level revenues quickly. If you know how to land you’ll find that almost every customer is ripe for a landing somewhere.

  1. Fact-find. Leverage your relationship to get key question answers.
  2. Profile. Focus on applications that are the “need to haves” and simple.
  3. Sniff for Desperation. Ask your contacts whether they have any material cost constraints, timing challenges, hiring troubles, regulatory issues, etc. That point of desperation is the critical argument that will empower your contact to win the political battle for the adoption of new technology.
  4. Time is of the essence. With your shortlist of applications in hand from the three points above, find out which ones have a deadline.

Take these 4 Steps across your portfolio of customers and you’re nearly assured to Land at least one time. Once you land your value proposition will bear fruit, and before you know it, you will be expanding. Congratulations!

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