B2E sales reps tend to collect accounts like baseball cards. All schools and districts in their territory are pins on the map that they either have or need. That’s a smart way to look at your territory from many respects, but it can oversimplify your territory plan to check off an account once you’ve made the first sale. Here, we need to take a page from B2B selling and pay close attention to opportunities to sell additional licenses or product lines to every account.
School level sales can be complete in that you’ve sold a building license, or if a per student license, you’ve sold all the students and grade levels your product services. If there’s an opportunity to expand, that building is a “partial.” But even a complete school sale makes a “partial” district sale. Another way district sales are partial is because they’ve only purchased some product lines, or all products for some students, or some products for some schools.
Most companies don’t think enough about opportunity left on the table after a first sale, and just passively welcome expansion that happens organically a renewal time. It’s fairly easy money to get, but it isn’t as organic as you might hope. Expansion business needs to be tracked and incentivized. Growth stage companies will routinely see expansion revenue representing 10-15% of total sales—and much more if they are actively making it happen.
The most obvious thing you need to do to be successful with expansion sales that most B2E’s don’t do is to have a system of recording which sales are complete and which are partial. How you categorize each of these expansion opportunities will be custom to your business, but I suggest you create codes in your CRM to express the major “partial” situations you can be in. Reps can also create a Salesforce Opportunity for the remaining sales opportunity at a new account to help them target and manage expansion sales. If you are a rep without a flexible CRM or just need a down and dirty way to do this, keep a spreadsheet of partial schools and districts so at least you have a record to follow up.
Now that these accounts are flagged, you can create a plan to follow up for expansion. B2E companies must assign responsibility for expansion sales at the flagged accounts to someone, as well as create a goal for sales achievement. Often this responsibility will remain with the territory rep, but as you grow, it might pay for itself to put a specialist in inside sales to capture these opportunities. You might think about double compensating for expansion sales – not a huge percentage, but paying both the territory rep and an inside specialist will get them teaming on identifying and closing this key business.
At companies with a fair amount of on-going client support and training, the people responsible for that support are ideal to get involved in responsibility for expansion sales. I have always asked implementation and support teams to take a priority interest in partial accounts because a partial account has less internal support available to them. When a tool isn’t widely used, the tech team and curriculum department isn’t investing time in learning it so that account is a low usage/non-renewal risk. But that prioritization is self-serving for expansion as well. Driving usage with fidelity at partial accounts means your program will be more top of mind with the people in a position to influence expansion to more students.
Marketing should get in the expansion game as well. A specialized drip campaign for partial accounts is a great way to focus on their situation. Normally marketing teams suppress existing clients in their campaigns. This is smart because it’s annoying to get a pitch on a product you already have, but it means reps are not getting any air cover on what can be really easy to close expansion sales. Marketing language should focus on use cases, the data available from your program, volume pricing benefits, and other topics of particular importance to admins and educators using only some of your services or servicing only part of their students. If your company has a licensing strategy that relies heavily on a land and expand formula, Marketing can pull out the stops. Things like in-school branding with t-shirts or classroom posters, or creating an e-badge for certified teachers will help you create attention. Your investment in district technology fairs and charity events at your high potential expansion districts will also provide reasonable ROI.
Reps will carry the responsibility of moving the opportunity through the pipeline. This requires an intermittent follow up campaign where you’re careful not to push expansion before the client would have a chance to know if they are satisfied, and yet keeps your products/services in front of the decision-maker frequently. Here are several ideas for reps to drive expansion for their partial accounts:
- Facilitate an in-house open house – If one teacher, grade or building uses your program well, ask them to help you put on a little show and tell for others in their school or district. Often, if you ask you’ll find out there are days inside districts just to share technology or lesson plans. Find out if you can assist in being your client’s Show and Tell. Depending on what is appropriate, give them a benefit for doing an open classroom event such as free product, a subscription extension, or an earned benefit from sales gained through the event. I never recommend cash or gift cards as it seems tacky to me, but earning something tangible for the classroom is enough to get most teachers interested.
- Invite non-users to a training – This same idea works if you are coming out to do PD for the teachers using your product, except it’s a straight up PD session. Non-users can learn a lot from going through training, and the buzz and excitement from that time spent will usually encourage them to put in their own request.
- Share reports to non-users and admins – If your product collects data and provides insights to teachers, be sure to share these reports with admins. If it’s a small installation they may technically have access to the data but won’t likely bother checking it for a small user group. This is a great strategy that helps move a building sale up to a district sale—district admins will enjoy seeing the data gathered at one site and will envision how nice it would be to get those optics across the district. It’s a “don’t” to share one classroom’s data with another teacher, but you can email other teachers with sample reports of the kind of data Mrs. Jones can get with your product in her room.
- Proof in the pudding – analyze test results users vs. non-users. Another great district expansion strategy is to wait for test scores to come in and, presuming you can show a difference between your users and the non-users, beat a path to their door to share the great news. This also could be done with a new series or product you’ve released that a client doesn’t own. Just take performance results from anonymized customer districts and show the gains they have compared to the partial district’s test results.
- Ask building admins to support your program on a district-wide initiative. There are frequent principal meetings at the district and county level. Their support, or even an endorsement email to their peers is a great way to gain additional expansion business even if the district doesn’t pick up the tab.
The best times to move in for the order would be at the key purchasing planning times of Feb/March, Back to School, and late October/early November (when Title 1 funds start appearing). Also, the obvious one time to ask for an expansion sale is as you start the renewal process with every account. That’s easy to remember for a building sale, but don’t forget it’s the time to try to get a district to take on responsibility for the subscription with a money-saving volume purchase.
Remember, none of this happens without flagging those partial accounts, so as easy as that sounds, start there and see if the old adage of “what’s measured is managed” doesn’t help you boost those expansion sales!