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SaaS Sales: Selling to SMBs? Use this enterprise sales tactic to succeed!

everybody this is steli efti with

Roselle and today I want to talk to you

about stakeholders with an SMB SAS this

is a topic I've never seen an article

about and I'm reading probably have read

almost everything that's ever been

written about SAS and because there's so

little discussion around this and

knowledge to be passed around we fell

into a trap

in the last one and a half years with

clothes and we learned an important

lesson I wanted to share that lesson

with you and start a conversation

typically when you think about different

stakeholders you're talking about

enterprise you know you're talking about

enterprise sales and Enterprise SAS you

know we're thing about these massive

organizations we'll all different

departments stakeholder than all that

and I've talked about this before how

the difference between selling to one

person or a massive massive fortune 500

company and its essence you're still

always selling to people right there's

no logo walking around purchasing the

software but the the main thing that

makes it enterprise sales so much more

complicated is that there's so many

different people you have to sell to

their very opposing needs and views and

priorities so that is what makes

enterprise sales so complex and why it

takes such a long time and why you

better be paid really well if you're

going into that direction but when we

talk about SMB sales we always think

about a faster selling cycle we

understand that you know it's not like

selling to end consumers with just one

person making a decision although even

that in a household could be wrong but

when we talk about SMB we're talking

about small and medium-sized businesses

and too many SAS companies that sell to

the SMB are really not separating and

segmenting and differentiating between

all these different stakeholders within

an SMB customer here's something funny

that happened it closed last year in the

beginning of 2017 for the very first

time we wanted to invest in a success

team and we wanted to not just provide

amazing support to our customers we want

to be proactive in reaching out to our

customers and helping them get more

value out of the solution and get more

success with a solution so we started

hiring success people put

together success team and what did the

success team do very organically and

naturally they thought well we have

thousands of customers you know we're

small team how do we prioritize well

let's just start with our biggest

customers first let's just reach out to

them and then when they looked at those

biggest customers some of them had

hundreds of sales reps on clothes hmm

how do we now decide who to talk to

right we're not gonna talk to all the

people there so how do we prioritize

well let's talk to the admin to the

manager to the person that's

administrating the entire account

probably the person that purchased the

product or once the product was

purchased the person that took over

managing and administrating the entire

account with us so the success seemed

started reaching out to these admins

talking to them setting up webinars you

know consulting them coaching them

checking in on them I can't managing

them and obviously through all that

relationship building in all those

conversations the success team started

listening more and more to their needs

their wants their desires their problems

their grudges and they were passing

along that feedback to the rest of the

company and especially to the product

team so what started happening very

organically without us even noticing our

product team in our overall company

started prioritizing and focusing more

on building features and fixing problems

that our admin priorities so the entire

2017 we really started investing more

and more and more in admin features and

not as much anymore in end user features

sales rep features now let me give you a

little bit of a background here clothes

is the only CRM in the market that

prioritizes the end user before the

admin every CRM Under the Sun starts off

by having some kind of a thesis we're

gonna build a CRM that social that's

mobile we're gonna build a bigger serum

a smaller serum this that or the other

whatever it is and then as they're

trying to get bigger and bigger

customers they're starting to focus more

and more and more to sell to the person

who's purchasing or the person with all

the purchasing power

which is usually the admin the manager

and what does the manager want the

manager wants reporting the manager

wants control right being able to give

user permissions the manager wants

forecasting the manager wants beta and

integration so that's what most serums

prioritize and build more more and more

off and then as they outgrow even that

kind of a customer size now selling to

larger larger enterprises means not just

selling to the admin and the manager but

selling to leadership to this you know

chief revenue officer to the CEO to the

executive suite and what do they want

they want visibility they want security

they want integrations with all kinds of

other departments and tools they want

all kinds of things that have nothing to

do with selling better and be more

productive as a salesperson see rents

have always been built and sold top down

upper managers upper management buys the

CRM and then forces it down the throat

of the sales reps that have to use the

system and that's why most CRMs honestly

suck and I know that I'm biased here

right you might think well of course you

say that sell if you're selling your own

CRM it's true I'm very very biased here

but just because I'm biased doesn't mean

I'm wrong right so if you're wondering

why many serums are so complicated and

not user-friendly at all it's because

they were never built for the user the

user is not a priority stakeholder for

all other serums I would claim except us

maybe there's another exception here and

there but even the the the few CRM that

started with an end user in mind

eventually because they have all this VC

pressure and the pressure to grow and

the pressure to IPO one day they move up

market organically they're trying to get

to the enterprise and eventually they

lose their their way and we're not free

of that we don't care about VCS we're

not caring about IPO we're gonna build a

huge business and we're fully dedicated

on the SMB market in the SMB customer

and the end user is our number one

priority stakeholder

we lost our way because I mean we meant

well we wanted to invest in our customer

relationships we wanted to be proactive

so we built a success in the success

they prioritized in the simplest way

possible and boom all of a sudden we

create an echo chamber where we gave the

biggest microphone to not a most

important user so what happened was we

lost touch with the most important

stakeholder and if you know anything

about me you know that I'm screaming

customer intimacy and customer insights

and every conference that every talk and

every conversation I have and I love to

quote and to say that whoever

understands that customer best will

ultimately own the relationship and if

your competitors understand your

customer better than you do if they will

get them one day you know sooner or

later so it is incredibly important for

you to understand your customer really

really well and part of understand your

customer really well in SMB SAS is to

understand the ecosystem within your

customers and this stakeholders with new

customers and to differentiate segments

and prioritize so one interesting thing

that happened in 2017 as we build mobile

features and we made clothes more

powerful but prioritizing the admins

before the end users our salespeople our

people was that our NPS score you know

stayed the same if not slightly dipping

and we noticed that it we thought well

that's super weird

now let's dig a little bit deeper and

ps4 means Net Promoter Score it's a

simple survey that allows us to - that

allows our customers and users to tell

us how happy they're with a product

anything would recommend it to others or

not right and based on that you can tell

a lot about customer satisfaction so

we're like wow this is weird we've

invested so much in success and we've

developed a platform and customers are

not a lot happier they're just a little

happier or even a bit what's going on

here so we analyzed the data and we

realized that our end user and PS scores

went down dramatically because the sales

reps they didn't see a lot of features

and functionalities and allowed them to

do their job even better and the NPS

score of admins administrators they have

one improved because that's who we

prioritized

well overall with a lot more end-user

seats than we have admin seats right

every account just has one admin but

typically has many many multiple end

users and sales reps on clothes so we

realized why we made the wrong

stakeholder a lot happier and we

neglected a most important stakeholder

and we didn't do that by design we did

it by default and by mistake but not

being as thoughtful and mindful as we

should be so we started breaking this

down a little bit and I want to break

this down for you and and help you

understand this better be more strategic

for yourself on this if you think about

stakeholders in SAS there's a few that

are very basic typically you have an end

user that's gonna be the person that's

gonna be using your product for most of

their day or for most of the time but

the heaviest user within the SMB

customer the company that purchase your

software if the user you have the admin

that's the person that you know usually

purchases the product or has a lot of

decision-making over the purchase but is

the person responsible to administer the

entire account but in our case

oftentimes that's the sales manager then

you have leadership right leadership

could be you know the CEO the founders

could be the VP of Marketing the VP of

Sales or the chief revenue officer

somebody it's a very high-level

executive and leader in the company

that's not really interacting with the

product that often but has influence is

a stakeholder over the overall decision

then you have an engineer or an ops

person somebody that's gonna use your

API to integrate it with other tools

somebody it's going to set certain

automations or coming up the data export

or import the data or set connections

between in our case clothes and the

website and the marketing automation

tool and whatever else you're using

right this is gonna be some engineering

resource or operations resource that's

gonna have to use the system typically

it's in the beginning it's not as

frequent but they're gonna have to use

your API maybe they're gonna have to use

your permission and roles they're gonna

have to do export of data and and right

maybe they'll use a tool like zapier to

do some integrations and automations so

that that's another stakeholder and then

there's other departments right there

might be somebody marketing video of

access to the serum there might be a

support team that needs to integrate in

some way or the success team in some way

that integrates with the serum right we

build our CRM for sales people and we

want sales people to close more deals

make more sales we want to make them

more productive who wanna eliminate

manual data entry and empower them to do

their job better and faster and stronger

but in most teams they use this or in

many teams that use us it's not just the

sales team that uses us it's the success

team as well because they're doing a

comp management in our team it's the

same thing our sales team is our success

team is using clothes just like the

sales team does in some teams there's a

recruiting team or recruiter that's used

for Xero as an ATS system to recruit in

many of our cases when there's a

start-up customer they might have one

organization where their sales team and

then the farmers might use clothes to do

fundraising right so there might be

other departments of teams or

individuals in the company that want to

have access integrate or use the system

in some kind of a different use case so

you have to understand any of these like

five stakeholders in most SME SAS

customers and they do different things

and they influence and relate to

different things right you need to ask

yourself who's gonna be who uses our

system most of the time who buys our

system who interacts with the system

once in a while but not all the time who

integrates our system and who can block

the purchase of our product or system or

lock it right so anybody that does

integration all operational work with

your tool might be the person that you

know if you if your tool integrates

really deeply within the organization

and the engineering team has done a lot

of work to integrate really deeply that

can be a lock but conversely and this is

very true oftentimes in enterprise teams

but also with us actually if I think

about it the IT department that nobody's

thinking about selling to because

there's no purchasing power can be a big

blocker for new purchases they can just

look at your system say nope not secure

enough no the API doesn't do what we

want know we can't integrate this

product with our system and if the IT

department says no boom done deal you're

out in our case a funny thing that

happened was that because we have an

incredibly powerful API and probably the

best API CRM a lot of companies you know

would

because the engineering team will take

would take a look at a few different

serums they had to integrate deeply

within their internal systems and just

say you should go with clothes their API

is the best we want to use that system

to integrate it's gonna take us a few

hours versus taking as you know weeks of

integration work that we could rather

spend on other things so IP our API has

been an incredible factor in acquiring

customers not because of the end-users

the sales rep don't really care about

API but the engineer in the ops person

that has to integrate they care about a

API and so they become an enabling

factor for purchasing our system and

then they become a person or a team that

locks us in even if somebody wants to

leave they've integrated is so deeply

that that we have lock-in right so you

need to understand who buys your system

who uses it who integrates with it who

interacts with it and who can block it

or lock it right create lock-in or block

the deal from happening in general and

you can see this beautiful little you

know whiteboard a scrap a scribble that

I put up on the wall that you know some

people you know pretty much everybody

from user down to other could

potentially block you know you you is

somebody purchasing your software S&B

customers purchasing your software but

these people relate to different

activities differently and you should

understand who can do what within your

customer base in SMB and then what you

need to do is you need to prioritize and

this is the most important thing at the

end of the day you need to serve as many

stakeholders if not all stakeholders

within a customer company as possible

all these stakeholders are important to

close we want to empower all of them but

not equally there is a priority and for

us in the beginning from the beginning

up until now we knew a number-one

priority is always gonna be the end user

the salesperson and we're gonna put them

above the a pin in leadership above

engineering ops although we're doing a

really good job with them as well above

other teams right we want to service all

of them as good as we can but the user

we're gonna serve the best that needs to

be our North Star our priority

the boys we amplify the strongest the

NPS scores we are breaking out the NPS

scores now we're paying more attention

that's the NPS core that's the most

important to be going up and trending up

because it's our most important

stakeholder that's the stakeholder that

insures the biggest influence over the

rope product roadmap and so we had to

start thinking about ways to amplify the

voice of end users to survey them more

to talk to them more to be disciplined

to make sure that just because we become

a bigger and bigger company and our

customer base becomes massive and our

customers are growing so much we don't

just default into the easiest thing to

do which is to always just talk to one

person at every customer and usually

that's the admin but to make an effort

to talk to our end users listen to them

pay attention to them invest in the

relationship with them to make sure that

they're staying the happiest because

that's what made us that's what got us

to the dance the only reason why Kohl's

is such a successful company is because

we serve salespeople better than anybody

else out there and we intend to keep it

that way so who might have lost touch a

little bit for a little while last year

but we're getting back in touch with our

core stakeholder and we're the most

we're it is reignited our commitment to

being the best CRM for salespeople right

build by salespeople for salespeople and

that's what really is differentiating us

and what will continue to differentiate

us so I hope that this little sharing

our failure the mistake we made without

being aware of it and then uncovering

that we have to be much more mindful and

thoughtful and segments are our

stakeholders and think about how they

influence things and how we interact

with them I hope that sharing that story

is gonna be a helpful lesson for many

SMV SAS companies out there and that

this is gonna kickstart a conversation

to have I said be SAS startups and

companies be better at understanding

that stakeholders and serving them and

prioritizing them instead of just

thinking because we sell to smaller and

medium-sized businesses

we're just gonna think of them as single

unit entities because they're really

really odd all right so please if you

have not done that yet go to blogged up

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and insight or just a question should be

an email steli and close that i always

love to hear from you until next time

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