SaaS (Software as a Service) is often deemed as the holy grail of scalable business. Some SaaS tools function with zero outbound marketing and zero outbound sales and rely solely on their support team to keep customers happy and help them spread the word. One example of this is the amazing team at Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) who has profited every year since launch in 1999 and is making ‘millions in profits’ with 43 employees.
After getting back from a recent international expansion trip to Dubai for TINT, I’ve realized the importance of relationships and strategy in the SaaS world. Once you begin to operate with larger enterprises, it becomes harder and harder for them to innovate without a little help. I won’t say this is for every product, but for innovative solutions (I would group TINT in this category) strategizing with larger clients becomes an important part of the sales process.
Often big companies look to fresh technology solutions for efficiency, new revenue channels, increased data transparency…. whatever it may be. They are always interested in a goal but rarely know how to execute at the optimal level with that technology.
They are not buying your software, they are buying the solution that achieves their goal.
This is where relationships in SaaS is are essential. I’ll provide an example. Publishing company X knows that they want better content and to do the ‘native advertising thing.’ They know your product can offer that. So one would think you could just provide them the software and a tutorial video and let them run…but this is a recipe for failure.
Strategy vs. Software
The biggest questions that I’ve seen come up for big businesses are not about how to use the software but how to strategically position it to external partners and to employees. That same excitement and understanding that made your decision-maker pull the trigger also must be passed on to the extended teams that will use it. This is where building a strong relationship (including training an internal champion on how to sell your product) becomes vital.
How do you spread the strategy and excitement to the entire team:
1) Lead a webinar or group training for a large team.
I have done this for several large agencies that decided to resell our product. After leading a webinar for any sales rep that would be selling a version of the product, they were able to comeback to support with more specific product questions to progress.
2) Crown your SaaS King/Queen
Find a hero who loves your tool and wants to become the go-to person internally. Give them extra training — not only on how to use your product, but on how to sell your product internally. Help them get their coworkers excited.
3) Training Videos
These are great for communicating technical details, but can be boring and lack the ability to excite. Videos are ideal resources in addition to the types of more personal training listed above.
Final Advice: Don’t be Mr. Myagi
Wax on, Wax off! It may seem so straightforward how they can benefit from and use all your features. This can often lead strategy sessions or demo’s to feel like “feature feeding.” A steak always goes down a lot smoother with some wine and salad on the side, so mix it up: a strategy session is also most effective when you include some jokes, ask some personal questions, and have lots of patience to ensure they really get it and have key steps to act.
People love other people just as much as they love products. In many of our strategy sessions at TINT, we encourage taking plenty of time to catch up on the latest life happenings and talking about all the cool new projects our team (and their team) has been working on. Once you’ve built that relationship that assures them you are not always going to be trying to upsell them, then they can be more comfortable exploring your ideas and new services from a place of mutual trust.