In the last year we’ve been leveling up a lot of our systems at SaaStr, and as part of that, moving from a lot of self-service and simple products to more robust ones. Such is the way as you grow. And one thing I’ve been shocked about is how few sales processes have kept up. Pressure tactics, exploding discounts, 48-hour trials that end on you, us-vs-them pricing, are all still alive and well. And in the end in 2021, they can create a buying process that for us at least, is just way too hard and long.
At this point, everyone is a SaaS buying veteran. According to Okta, their average customers deploys more than 112 SaaS apps now — and growing! And to deploy 100+, that probably means every customer has evaluated 300-1000 or more! We’ve all learned to buy SaaS. Now, it’s time to overhaul how we sell it as well.
Exactly how can vary.
But I’ve come up with just one simple construct today: Your Product Just Has To Be Easier Buy Than It Is To Use.
- If you think your product really is 10x easier to use than the older competition — it should be 10x easier to buy, too. SaaS buyers are veterans now. If you make it hard to buy, we know it will be hard to deploy and hard to use.
- You should be able to talk to sales, or support, or someone — when you want. And / or instantly. Not when a day or two later, they send you a Calendly link.
- Make free trials last as long as people want them. Don’t hide your software if it is so easy to use. You want your customers to be on a 10+ year journey with you. If they need a little more time in the early days of that journey — just let them have it. Without drama.
- Maybe deployment as close to instant as possible. At least — make it effortless. Even for a complex product, I should be able to deploy effortlessly.
- Make pricing < $50,000 at least as simple and transparent as possible. No one has energy here anymore.
- Your customers should know pricing isn’t a rip-off. Just put it on the website for anything less than six figures. Assume every customer that pays < $100k a year knows exactly how much every other customer < $100k a year pays. And price it that way.
- If your customers want to switch to you before a competitive contract is ending, incent them — and don’t make them ask. Just tell them upfront you will credit them a decent chunk of the prior contract, or give them the stub period for free if they buy another year. Make it easy to switch. Tell them upfront. No games.
- Identify high intent buyers and don’t force them to go through an SDR. In fact, respond immediately to them, or as close to it as possible. Veterans expect a rapid, painless process to evaluate a vendor they’ve already identified high interest in.
- Don’t expect High NPS or referrals if it’s painful to simply buy. You are starting off at NPS 0 if you put your prospects through a painful buying process.
If it’s hard to buy, that sends a clear signal: it will be even harder to deploy and use. In today’s environment, why bother then?
If it takes 2 weeks of negotiating to close a $30k deal, why will I possibly believe I can get up and running any faster? We can all smell good vs. bad software. A bad sales process says bad-to-mediocre software, even if it’s not the case.
Yes, truly big deals are complicated. Big deals have a lot of stakeholders, and there it’s probably fine to have non-transparent pricing, carefully managed pilots … and lots of gates. Lots of qualification.
But anything less than $50k-$100k should be simple to buy today. Even more so in today’s crazy world. Fast and easy. Like you claim your application is.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)