I remember the first customer I lost due to not showing up in person. They were a Fortune 50 customer. We did a CSAT survey, and every user loved us. The implementation was flawless. There were zero issues. And … we lost them at renewal.
Our buyer was kind enough to call us and explain why. “Well, your competitor was in the office last week, and just convinced us that …”
Ugh. We’d done everything “right” … except … We’d never even visited. But their sales team had.
I hear this story now time and time again. Here are a few from a recent LinkedIn post I did on the matter:
You can see from both my subsequent experience, and all the comments on the post in this thread, that I was hardly alone.
You already know this. If you show up, you close faster and you close more. And you also learn more. You can talk about problems, solutions and needs. And you kick off a potential decade+ long relationship.
The flip side though these days, is it is even easier to close deals on the phone, and on the Zoom. Prospects are smarter. They’ve already deployed 100+ SaaS apps. They’ve already done your free trial. They’ve already decided you are probably the vendor they want. So in terms of time effort for a sales rep, it’s harder and harder to justify getting out there and meeting a prospect in person.
So what’s the right trade-off for 2019 and 2020? There is no question traveling takes time, and time away from deals. And the #1 most successful SaaS IPO of the year is Zoom. And the CEO has never traveled for a deal.
But Zoom’s deal sizes are relatively small, it has a large viral component, and really Zoom isn’t going enterprise yet (more here). You probably aren’t Zoom. And so be careful what lessons you draw from.
For most of us, here are some guidelines:
- Show up in person to any $20k+ competitive deal. If the deal is competitive, and you show up, your odds of winning go way, way up.
- Show up in person to any $50k+ deal if you can. These deals are worth the time and effort to travel, almost always, unless you are very remote.
- Show up in person to every local $50k+ deal. There is no excuse if you are in the Bay Area, and your prospect is as well, to not go meet in person.
- Show up in person to every Top 100 logo deal. Figure out the Top 100 logos you want to get. And force the team to go in person. Even if it’s a $5k deal today, of course, a top logo deal can be six figures over time.
Remember, in SaaS, your top customers can last a decade or more. So as CEO, sort of 10x those numbers above in your head. Maybe it’s only a $20k deal today. But if they stay 10 years, and the account grows 3x, that’s … a $600k deal. Is a $600k CLV deal worth Ubering over during the sales process? Of course it is …
And finally, if you don’t show up for a bigger deal in sales, at least make sure customer success visits in the first 30 days. That won’t help you close the deal — not at all. But it’s easier to implement. Just draw a bright line for CS, and make sure you call on them right after the deal closes. That still builds a relationship. Just not in a way that increases your close rates or initial deal size.