Q: What are the most effective ways for early stage enterprise SaaS startups to sell to large organizations with little to no track record?

It’s hard.  But … it’s not as hard as you’d think.

Let me explain.

Most forward-looking CIOs (of which there are more and more now) do actively look for 1 or 2 innovative pieces of SaaS software to bring into their company each year.

They know that some of this may come from very early-stage start-ups.  They know this is where true innovation comes from.

And then know how to handle it.  How to assess the risk (vs. reward).  How to work with founders and small vendors in the early days.

The key is:

  • You have to be important enough (as a solution) to be one of the 1, 2, 3, 4 pieces of “SaaS Innovation” the CIO wants to bring into the company this year.  This may also be true at SVP level.
  • Your product truly has to be 10x better than whatever else they have — at least in one important way. Of course your product will be feature poor.  But if it makes one important thing 10x better … how they sell, how they bill, how they interact with customers, etc. … that may be worth it for the innovation risk.
  • The CIO / champion has to believe in the founders, and their long-term commitment.  They are taking a risk here.  They have to know they’ve picked the right partner.

Then … it can be done.


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