Selling Saas Software to Enterprise: Challenges, Benefits and Best Practices

According to North Bridge’s Future of Cloud Computing Survey 2015, with a spreading presence in 77.3% of all organizations, SaaS is the most used cloud technology, today. Compared to its relatively minuscule adoption (9%) in 2014. SaaS software has indeed come a long way.

Going by these staggering adoption figures, one would assume selling SaaS to enterprises is as easy as pie. However, selling SaaS software to enterprises is an arduous task. Unlike SMBs where decision-making is quick, getting an enterprise customer onboard is hard due to the multiple decision-makers and layers of middle management. The sales processes are long-drawn and often involves higher customer acquisition costs. In short, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to sell your SaaS products to enterprise customers.

Challenges of Selling Saas Software to Enterprises

Selling SaaS software to enterprise prospects comes with its own set of objections.

Companies, normally with a multi-tier management structure, may take a longer time to approve proposals from their vendors.

Pursuing enterprise businesses also take more elongated sales cycles, which calls for networking with the right channels and decision-makers to assist the sales process and close the deal.

According to Fast Company, half of all enterprise employees are uncertain about the specifics of the function they play in their organizations. More frequently than not, you may be pursuing an employee who doesn’t carry the authority to make purchasing calls.

Enterprise pipeline
Source: LinkedIn

In short, selling SaaS software to enterprise businesses, calls for a completely different pitch and often takes many follow-ups before a deal closes.

Benefits of Selling Saas Software to Enterprise Businesses

There are a ton of benefits to selling to enterprise customers. First, and most obviously, the number of purchases tend to be significantly higher and consistent.

If a SaaS company’s sales model revolves around selling only to individual customers, they can only sell a few products over a period of time. However, if they are able to get a big company with a large number of employees, they could possibly sell in large volumes and on a consistent basis.

Even as sales might drop during recessions, in a relatively stable economy, you can maintain a solid business relationship with enterprise clients. Enterprise customers tend to trust and buy from the same vendor considering their long-term relationship. This leads to an opportunity to approach customers for an annual upgrade, up-selling, and cross-selling possibilities.

Selling SaaS software to enterprises helps you meet your sales goals easily as you have to close just one deal on a weekly or monthly basis.

Generally, the sales revenue goals of a SaaS company occurs within a shorter cycle than other sales other models. For example, selling to an SMB or Solopreneure. You may sell more with a price per unit / subscription model, but the price will be lower compared to selling to enterprises.

This is because SaaS software for enterprise businesses tend to carry a significantly higher price.

By focusing on enterprise businesses, you can sell relatively, fewer numbers of software products but still attain a higher monthly recurring revenue.

Moreover, when you get a well-known enterprise client onboard, it helps you boost your brand equity. Showing their logo on your home page, for example, can help you boost your social proof significantly which, in turn, will attract more businesses down the road.

Best Practices of Selling SaaS to Enterprise

Selling SaaS to enterprises is inherently challenging, but with the following best practices this task will become less challenging for you.

Stay ROI-Focused in Your Pitch

What really makes selling to an enterprise customer more daunting is that unlike an SMB, enterprise prospects don’t buy software on impulse. There are many departments and decision-makers involved in the process of purchasing software and is often a long-drawn process.

To make it effortless for them, recognize an enterprise’s pain points and explain how your software can answer those challenges. Moreover, identify the costs involved in the adoption of your software and how it will bring about more savings or advantages for the organization. In short, communicate the big picture and highlight ROI benefits.


Send Case Studies

Decision-makers in enterprise businesses don’t have the time to dig into reports about the effectiveness of your SaaS software. To make it easy for them, include case studies about how your existing enterprise customers benefited from using your software and how it helped them make more money.

Include PDFs of Best Practices

Attaching a PDF of your best practices gives your message a personal touch, and helps the decision-maker understand.

During the long sales cycle of a SaaS product, your sales team will pitch several times to several people in the same company. Each time they pitch could also change in regards to the benefits and effectiveness of a person’s role within the company. With a PDF of best practices, those who have been pitched to will be able to read and undestand the benefits on their own time, and allows prospects to learn additional information that might not have been part of the call.

This method helps you to cover all of your bases and leaves a mark with those you’ve talked to.

Evaluate the Investments of Time and Money

In terms of costs, the elongated sales cycle of acquiring enterprise customers makes it an expensive proposition. Consider the expectations of the prospect and how far you must go before they are able to sign-up. Ask yourself, “Do they need any mockup treatments or product trials?”

Some prospects may also request that you meet in person to demonstrate your software’s capabilities at their offices.

This is also to see if your customer acquisition costs are sustainable, whereby your company can pay for benefit from sending you to multiple locations routinely. When designing your pricing model of your software, be sure to include these costs as well. These costs can include travel expenses to a prospect’s site, and other costs required to follow up with the prospect in the sales cycle which could take as long as six to twelve months.

More importantly, factor in the average lifetime value (LTV) of on each account and request that you travel to their locations to demonstrate your software.

Additional Efforts

More often than not, selling SaaS software to enterprise customers requires more efforts. For example, many enterprise customers may require additional training for better integration and adoption of your software. However, due to their potentially high lifetime value, it’s worth going that extra mile. In some cases, it also leads to an increase in conversion rate to the premium version.

Tracking Customer Success (Post-Sales)

While you must maintain a healthy long-term relationship with all your customers, it’s often wiser to allocate more time to your enterprise clients in order to track the success of your software periodically.

Think about Sending Personalized Gifts

Sending personalized gifts, e.g. t-shirt, mugs, cards, to your enterprise customers is investing in long-term relationships. It shows the decision-makers that they are valued and adds an emotional touch to your professional relationship and pays off in the long run.

Final Thoughts

The additional amount of time and efforts required to sell SaaS software to enterprise prospects sometimes gives rise to concerns. However, despite the challenges, the benefits of catching a big fish far outweigh the potential risks typically involved in the sales process.

About the Author

Susanta Sahoo is Top League Technologies, a digital marketing start-up in Bhubaneswar, India. By offering SEO consulting services, he helps SMB’s build their online presence and boost ROI. Follow him on Twitter:@sushantsahoo

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