The Land & Expand Sales Strategy: Close now, win later

The Dock Team
April 25, 2024
April 28, 2024

B2B SaaS companies can learn a lot from jam. 

In 2000, psychologists published a study about how people buy jam. One group of shoppers was presented with a sample table with 24 varieties of jam, while the other had just six choices.

People were more likely to stop at the large display table but one-tenth as likely to actually buy any jam

In other words, too much choice puts off potential buyers.  

Founders of scaling businesses can fall into the trap of offering their prospects too many choices, pitching every possible product to every potential buyer to meet every conceivable need. The grand vision of the company they sold to investors only confuses potential customers.

The sales team tries to sell too many products, connect with too many different stakeholders and solve too many different pain points. Prospects get bogged down in TMI, making a decision becomes too complex, and the deal fails. 

One solution is the “land and expand” approach. 

Instead of trying to sell every product you offer to every prospect you can find, you take a deliberately narrow approach. Pick a single pain point, a single solution, or a single ICP. 

Then, once you’ve proved your value and built a relationship with the customer, you can show them other ways you can help them. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through a practical approach to land and expand so you can stop spreading your sales team too thin. (Ba da boom.) 

What does land and expand mean?

A land-and-expand sales strategy involves intentionally selling a narrow-scope or lower ACV deal to close a new logo and then growing the account over time. 

The goal is to get a wedge into new accounts with a smaller initial deal and then gradually leverage the established relationship to expand the account and build NRR

Land and expand is a good option for selling in today’s down market. You can win accounts today and then expand them later when budgets increase again. 

It also helps reduce the lift for sales teams. 

Instead of trying to sell every product in your portfolio, they focus on a single product for a single ICP. This approach makes it easier to create compelling, targeted messaging and reduces the complexity of your outreach strategy. 

PLG is the ultimate land-and-expand play:

  • You “land” a single user with a freemium version and provide them with so much value that they become your avid buyer champion
  • They then recommend your tool to the rest of their team, triggering multiple sign-ups.
  • You secure a small deal by attracting some users to your paid version and opening a vendor relationship with the business. 
  • Over time, other departments use your product, and your sales team engages with the account. 
  • You can then add value to the value they’ve already been getting from your product and ideally “expand” the account by moving them onto your enterprise pricing tier. 

But PLG isn’t the only way to approach land and expand. For instance, you can also: 

  • Attract a single user and then use that initial relationship to sell to the rest of their team  
  • Sell your basic product and then upsell your full product suite 
  • Target a single team and then cross-sell to other teams 
  • Target a single ICP within the organization and then expand to target other ICPs 

Why does land and expand work so well as a sales strategy?

Land and expand tends to be a highly effective sales process for scale-ups because: 

You start with an easy ask. 

It's hard to go high, especially if you’re not a well-known brand. You simply don’t have the automatic trust that more established businesses start with. 

So, instead of pitching a six-figure solution, you pitch a single tool that will help with a single, obvious pain point and only costs a few hundred bucks. It's much easier to say yes to this pitch. 

You build trust quickly. 

It’s much harder to get the first dollar than the next one. Once your customers start using your product and see that it does what it says on the tin, they will be far more likely to believe you when you tell them that your other products will also help them. 

You get past the bouncers.  

Once approved as a vendor, you’ve passed the security reviews and been added to the customer’s purchasing processes. This step makes you the easier option, rather than starting from scratch with another vendor when they decide they need to buy another solution. 

You become a known quantity. 

Your customer gets to know you and your products. This quality makes it far easier to drive adoption when introducing a new product line, as you’re already a familiar solution. 

Land and expand examples

There are four main approaches to land and expand: 

1. Account growth

You can grow the account by increasing the number of users, seats, or licenses. 

This approach relies on user adoption — existing users like your solution, recommend it to their colleagues or direct reports, and usage increases across the organization. 

Slack is an excellent example of the account growth model in action. Their pricing model lets you try Slack for free, bring it to your team, and start using it across your entire organization. 

Slack’s pricing page

2. Usage growth 

Instead of more people using the solution, usage growth is based on the amount they use it. The more your users use your product, the more you charge for it. 

Chili Piper, for instance, lets sales teams schedule appointments with leads. For its lowest pricing tiers, it charges a flat fee based on users per month. 

As you get more value from its platform, it continues to charge a per-user fee but adds a tiered “platform fee” based on the number of inbound leads submitted per month. 

Chili Piper's tiered platform fee

3. Upgrade growth 

With upgrade or upsell growth, you bring in the account with a low-cost solution and then encourage them to upgrade for more advanced features or value within your product or service. 

For example, Hubspot offers free and low-cost options for individuals and small teams. As you start to require more advanced features,  they offer two additional tiers — Professional, which comes with add-ons like custom reporting and social media features, and Enterprise, which gives you advanced attribution modeling and other complex analytics tools. 

It’s worth noting that you’re not limited to only one growth strategy. For instance, Hubspot’s model also includes tiered pricing for usage growth within each package. 

4. Cross-sell growth 

You can also expand your accounts by selling additional products or add-ons to the same account. Once you’re in the account, for example, you can sell products that meet the needs of other ICPs or departments. Or you can sell a single product and then promote additional solutions that work with that product.

That’s what Lattice does. They have several different products, all available on a separate subscription. If you buy one product, Lattice offers you bundles of their other products that will give you additional, related value. 

Lattice's products and bundles

9 practical land & expand strategies

Ready to start landing and expanding? Here are our top tips for landing new logos, even in a tough market, and then expanding each account over time: 

Let’s start with how to land…

1. Be as self-serve as you can

Today’s B2B buyers want to help themselves to new products, often touching 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a single salesperson. You’ll need to adapt to this shift to land more new logos, enabling your buyers to make informed decisions on their own time. 

Depending on your GTM strategy and product, this might look like: 

Introducing (or doubling down on) a PLG motion 

If you’re currently fully sales-led, it might be time to consider PLG. To quote Marie Gassée, who launched the product-led motion at Box, if you’re at an early stage in your business and don’t have PLG yet:

 “Do it now. It's so horrible to do it later. Just take a little bit of pain now.” 

You can listen to Marie discussing how she implemented PLG at Box on the Grow & Tell podcast

If you have a product that makes sense to self-serve, consider creating a freemium offering to spark interest and get a foot in the door. 

📖 Not sure if your product makes sense for PLG? Read our guide to Product-Led vs. Sales-Led Growth

Getting good at asynchronous sales 

If you prefer not to go the PLG route, you should consider how to async your sales motion as much as possible. Async sales (where sales conversations take place through emails, Slack messages, DMs, texts and personalized videos, rather than meetings) empowers buyers to work their way through the purchasing process on their own time while still creating a personalized experience. 

Maria Harutyunyan, co-founder of Loopex Digital, told us:

“By making our outreach more personalized, authentic and asynchronous, we've increased our conversion rate and closed deals faster than ever before.”

We should mention here that Dock can help you with async sales. With Dock, you can consolidate all your sales materials into one customer workspace. Sales reps can create a personalized page for each prospect, complete with all the information they need to get the decision-makers on their side to buy. 

2. Use sales POCs 

A sales proof of concept (POC) is a powerful tool for easing buyers towards a purchase. If you’re unfamiliar with it, a sales POC is a software trial where you provide hands-on implementation and technical support to the prospect testing the software.  

In land and expand terms, we recommend that you start with a paid or free trial of one product or with one team to keep the focus narrow. Then, focus on creating a successful product testing experience that illustrates what it will be like to work with you. After successfully delivering on a POC, expanding the customer relationship (and, subsequently, the revenue) becomes easier.

Some quick tips for more effective sales POCs: 

  • Start by defining your customer’s success metrics with them, then build your POC towards those metrics (rather than trying to show them every feature you could offer them).
  • Make small, measurable claims that you can be confident you can deliver instead of overpromising and allowing scope creep. 
  • Use a shared workspace that keeps the POC well-organized (here’s a Sales Proof of Concept Template you can copy if you like). 
  • Preview your onboarding and implementation process to show that you’ll be a great partner to work with and help lead the change management process in their organization.
  • Over-communicate to make sure your customer isn’t running into roadblocks. 

💡 Tip: You can use Dock’s analytics to monitor how often your prospect interacts with your POC workspace. If they’re engaging a lot, but they’ve gone quiet on you, then they’re probably stuck on something technical. If they’re not engaging and they’ve gone quiet, you have work to do on the Sales side. 

📖 Further reading: Check out our Sales POC Playbook

3. Avoid deal creep 

Ben Solari, VP of Sales at Jellyfish, recommends that B2B sales teams keep a narrow focus. When he worked at InsightSquared, he recalls that the founders had a “grand vision” for the product, including targeting everything from SMBs to hypergrowth B2B businesses. 

However, when he looked at their CRM, he saw that their actual customers were exclusively in B2B SaaS. His team was able to “create more efficient messaging and more efficient activities” by focusing on a narrower target. They were still aiming toward the founders’ massive goals for the product — but by avoiding deal creep, they could take an incremental approach that was more effective. 

Hear more from Ben about avoiding deal and persona creep on the Grow & Tell podcast

For most new deals, it’s easier to focus on one product, one team, or one use case. 

Of course, we’re not suggesting you give up on multi-product or multi-teams altogether and miss out on the extra revenue. You should focus closely on your main product or use case unless you uncover a compelling need for more than one offering during discovery. 

For instance, at Dock, most customers will start using our product for their sales team. It’s also an excellent fit for many CS and onboarding teams, but it would be harder for us to make the sale if we tried to target both teams from the start. 

Unless a customer comes in saying, “I need an end-to-end solution for my Sales and CS,” we will start talking to sales first and then move on to CS later, once we’ve proved value to their sales team. 

…And then expand 

So, you’ve created a compelling self-serve motion, successfully nudged prospects through a simple but convincing sales POC, and kept your focus, messaging, and approach super narrow. Now that you’ve landed your new logos, how will you expand them? 

Here are a few practical suggestions: 

4. Align revenue teams on expansion goals 

Expansion is a team sport. You need Sales, CS, Product, and Marketing to work towards customer expansion together. 

To align your team on your expansion strategy: 

  • Clarify who owns expansion. Which teams have expansion-related incentives? Which metrics are you tracking (customer satisfaction, usage, feedback, churn etc.), and who owns those metrics? Which teams have expansion KPIs? 
  • Optimize the Sales-to-Success handover. Introduce the Customer Success team early to foster a more informed transition between Sales and CS, reduce overlap and friction and set clear expectations for the customer about what will happen after the close.
  • Centralize account information in a shared workspace. CS and Sales need to know which accounts have high potential for expansion. That means capturing the details gathered during discovery and passing them over when the customer purchases. Dock’s shared workspaces can help make this information handover completely seamless. 
  • Maintain ongoing collaboration between Sales and Success. While Sales primarily focuses on customer acquisition, both teams should work together on expansion and upsell opportunities with existing customers — sharing insights, collaborating on account management and maintaining clear and open communication lines on expansion signals.  

📖 Further reading: Check out our Guide to Sales Collaboration for more tips on aligning your revenue team around expansion goals.

5. Overinvest in onboarding 

Onboarding is the best predictor of revenue expansion, says Brittany Soinski, Manager of Onboarding at Loom

“Our research shows that if we can get people on this adoption curve during the onboarding period — within the first 30 or 60 days — they're going to see long-term success and renew with our tool. It's really hard to reactivate or re-onboard somebody down the line.”

Your goal with your onboarding shouldn’t be to show your new customers every possible feature they might ever want to use. Instead, you should be aiming to minimize their time to value.

The more compelling your customer experience during onboarding, the more likely your new prospect will recommend your solution to their colleagues and effectively do your expansion outreach for you. 

Your onboarding journey needs to be all about customer enablement: making it incredibly easy for your customers to find the information they need to onboard themselves, in their own time, at their preferred pace. 

💡 Tip: Set up your onboarding journey as a checklist in a shared workspace like Dock. That way, you can provide an easy-to-navigate, guided onboarding experience, spot it quickly if they get stuck during onboarding, and provide all the resources the customer needs in the same space. Watch this 10-minute demo if you want to see it in action. 

Dock lets you embed your onboarding checklist and relevant content in one convenient shared workspace.

📖 Find out how Loom saves two hours onboarding each customer with Dock. 

6. Track expansion signals 

Your expansion strategy needs to be proactive — meaning that you should be reaching out to customers, not waiting for them to come to you once they’ve their licensing limits. 

This strategy will take a combination of: 

  • Clearly defining your PQLs so you know when a user is ready to convert into a paying customer and can automate an outreach playbook 
  • Monitoring your onboarding metrics so you can identify what activities your team does that encourage expansions during onboarding 
  • Analyzing product usage and adoption data so you know when a paying customer is hitting licensing or usage limitations and is ready for expansion 

7. Showcase your results 

Ensure that your customers know the value they’re getting from your software, and they’re more likely to want more from you. This process could look like: 

  • Running quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with key accounts where you showcase the KPIs they’ve achieved with your solution during the previous quarter and make sure you’ll hit those goals again in the next quarter
  • Sending an email to the economic buyer and/or other key stakeholders, showing the ROI you delivered during a specific time period or every time you hit a milestone they care about 

💡 Tip: Dock’s Quarterly Business Review Template lets you give your customers detailed performance data so they can see how your product or service adds value.

8. Keep multithreading going post-sale

Multithreading (building multiple long-term relationships within the account) shouldn’t stop once you close the deal. Aim to keep getting introduced to new stakeholders within a company and to introduce your company’s leaders to their company’s leaders. 

This approach protects your long-term relationship with the account and increases the likelihood that you’ll identify opportunities to expand into other teams. 

9. Time your renewal conversations effectively

During discovery, aim to uncover the prospects’ purchasing cycle. That way, instead of trying to hold an expansion conversation when their budget has already been allocated, you can time your outreach to coincide with their budget cycle. 

📖 For more tips on improving your customer renewal game, check out our Customer Renewals Guide

Land & expand more easily with Dock 

To grow your B2B SaaS business in a tough market, you must think beyond customer retention to post-sale revenue growth. The land-and-expand sales model can help you boost your NRR by increasing your current customers' lifetime value (LTV). To get it right: 

Dock can help. Use our shared workspace technology to: 

  1. Create digital sales rooms that create a seamless sales-to-success experience for your customers. 
  2. Convert your customers into buyer champions by ensuring they can find the right resources from the very beginning of the relationship.
  3. Offer price calculators that motivate customers to consider higher-tier services or products from the first deal. 

You can create your first 5 Dock workspaces for free.

The Dock Team