Selling Enterprise Software

Interesting read from Kalzumeus.

All internal users hate the purchasing process because it inhibits their ability to get work done. Successful Enterprise sales is about finding an internal champion who really wants your product like they want oxygen, and then allying with that person against their own employer. One of the easiest ways to do this is allowing them to exercise any loophole their Purchasing Department provides.

Because the whole rigamarole costs several hundred dollars in employee salary to approve any PO, most internal Purchasing Departments have a few enumerated exceptions. One is an upper limit on expenses a worker or low-level manager can approve on their own authority without ceremony, generally by putting them on a corporate credit card

As part of my job I am often looking at SaaS products. I like to do a bit of research here so I have a solid idea of how to use the platform, ie. become a better ‘internal champion’ when selling the solution to management.

I would extend the above concept in two ways

  1. Offer “no credit card” trials
  2. Don’t force collection of a contact phone number

No CC makes the trial phase easier for obvious reasons, however 2 is even more annoying because the trend now with SaaS products is to immediately call trial customers. If I give my internal number I waste time fielding sales calls, something I have no authority or capacity for as a developer. A more appropriate management/procurement number leads to my boss getting calls from a company he knows nothing about.

I think a more appropriate model for these kinds of sales would be to include a “developer trial” before the normal trial. So a developer can sign up without a contact phone number, and at the end of the trial can pass along details for the Purchasing team, where the normal trial funnel begins.

Changing to this two phase trial could enable further customization like

  • Loading the trial account with dummy data instead of trying to setup with business data that the developer may not have permission to use yet - Xero does an excellent job of this
  • Make sure API access is included
  • Skip the marketing around pricing and plans as this isn’t relevant for the developer