Integrate With Your Competitors. It’s not only OK. It’s Better.

We must have evaluated 40 digital events platforms here at Team SaaStr since Covid hit.  Some have decent networking.  Others have great registration.  Some have a slicker UX.  Others are better for sponsors.

The #1 problem though?  They don’t integrate with each other.  So none of them are great.

  • First, many of the vendors are wary of Zoom.  So many don’t integrate with Zoom at all.  Or if they do, they still try to push you onto their own integrated video platform.
  • Second, many of the vendors are wary of the social aspects of other platforms.  So the events platforms that are good at experience refuse to integrate with those that are better at making connections.
  • The list goes on and on.  We end up having to cobble together 3 vendors ourselves, without single-sign on or a single user experience.  That’s not great.

They are all scared the vendor they could integrate … is better.  Better at one key thing.

My advice?  Do it.  Open your API to your competitors.  Open your product to them.  And let your customers use you and a competitor together if they want.

If you are the most valuable vendor, you’ll likely win in the end.  And even if you don’t … you’re still in the game at least.  And it will push you to build better software.  And most importantly — it will ensure you provide a better solution for your customers.  They’ll be happier, want to spend more with you, and drive your NPS up.  That’s the long game right there.  Play it.

A related mistake I see many founders make:  not letting customers use them and a competitor at the same time.  Sales especially can want to force a customer to pick one vendor, to get all the revenue.  But don’t do that.  If your customer wants to use you and a competitor together for a month, for a quarter, even a year … let them.  Again, the best vendor will likely win.  Again, it is better for the customer.  If they have the energy to run 2 vendors at the same time, then that’s what makes them more comfortable.  And again, even if you lose … at least you were in the game.

And finally, remember competition evolves.  You can see Tiago Paiva of Talkdesk and I chatting below on how it seemed like in the early days Zendesk would be a huge competitor.  But in the end, the competition was minor.  And both of them having open ecosystems made for the far better customer experience:

The best vendors create the best solutions.

And more often than not, that includes … including the competition.  At least, consider it.

Published on March 9, 2021

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