This has lots of implications regardless of the type of customer you are targetting. The gulf between product and service buying for an enterprise SaaS customer is especially wide.
I want to point out a couple of key things in this piece.
Enterprise ready is an entry fee not a sales pitch
Another excellent article which caught my eye was a product manager’s guide to moving up market from Tom Tunguz.
I can’t improve on the list of product features your SaaS product needs to be enterprise ready. If you ever enter into an enterprise procurement process, covering these bases will save you a lot of heartache. And likely prevent your bid falling at the first hurdle.
But don’t be deceived into thinking this is anything like enough. As the title says this is just for a product manager. Selling SaaS to the enterprise has multiple dimensions. Meeting certain technical standards and the preconditions set by procurement is only the entry ticket.
Your SaaS needs to convince buyers not just procurement
Last week someone asked me to share the basic proposal structure I used to use when selling complex professional services. Writing this down reminded me of a fundamental truth about selling services.
Every sale needs its own unique selling point.
Most entrepreneurs will be familiar with the idea of a USP. A clear and distinctive advantage that set your SaaS apart from the competition.
The implication is that there is a clear USP which will appeal to a range of potential customers. Services are not like that. Services are personal. So each customer likes to feel that the USP is designed from them and them alone.
Back in the day, we used to refer to this as the killer slide. Every proposal had to have one page that made the buying decision for the client.
Your SaaS needs to be beyond compare and score
Achieving this when you are selling to the enterprise needs a couple of things.
First, this will never appear on the procurement agenda. Procurement’s job is to get specific answers to a whole range of standard questions. This allows them to do like for like comparisons and score your SaaS against its competitors.
Winning this type of scoring is an art form in itself. But it does not touch on USP. By definition this defies comparison. To figure this out you need to talk to the real buyers. The people in the enterprise that will benefit from your SaaS.
Your USP for a specific customer needs to be couched in the benefits that key people within that enterprise will realise if they use your SaaS. (Note use it, not just buy it.)
The Chairman's View
The service mindset is the key to enterprise SaaS. Building a product with the right operations and support to deliver behind it is a core essential. You can take account of these needs from the outset of your startup.
Once you engage with customers, you have to get on the business benefits agenda.
Satisfy procurement and deliver the wow factor the business buyers. away. Or, click the Write button and compose something new.
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.