*This is a guest post from the man, the myth, the legend Dan O’Leary. He is one of the most well-regarded employees @ Box and serves as the Chief Solutions Architect on the Consulting team, working with our largest and most complex deployments. He also loves cat videos and Funyuns.*
Modern SAAS applications are often orders of magnitude easier to use, deploy and integrate than the legacy applications they produce. Workday for example is a fraction of the complexity of a PeopleSoft. However as our applications get easier and easier to use, change – specifically changing how people do their jobs and how business processes are designed remained as complex as ever. For that reason, your company might have or choose to start a services or consulting team to help your customers better deploy and adopt your product or service. When that day comes, you will find yourself face to face with your best friends in the world – the folks that ensure that all of the promises you make to your customers come true.
As a Consultant and frequent collaborator with top sales reps, here are 7 tips for sales and services teams to work together to drive and win opportunities together.
- Customer? Client? Or Both? You might sell something to a Company, but the ultimate decision and authority to implement and deploy SAAS rests with a client. What’s the different? Your Customer is the logo that goes on your website and the larger organization that uses your product, while your client is the person that I’ll speak with on a weekly basis on my cell phone, and take out to dinner when I’m in town to better understand how we can help them accomplish their goals. It’s their name on the purchase order, and their responsibility to ensure that we achieve their desired business outcomes. As a seller you can help your services team out by letting us know who the people are that are being held accountable for the success or failure of the work, our client, and we will take care of the customer.
- Fail to plan, or plan to fail. When I started my career in software consulting, services were integral to the deployment of technology as products required the purchase and deployment and integration of so many other tools like databases, hardware, and customer development. In the SAAS world, million dollar deals are sourced from your website, and paid for by a credit card. It’s easier than ever to buy products, but the basics of change management and user adoption remains central to the ongoing success that increases the CLTV (Customer lifetime value) of your account. I often ask new sales people who are not used to selling services a direct question “What is our plan to make sure this is successful?” If you don’t have a plan for how what you are selling will be used and create value, we are all going to have a significant problem. My team has driven thousands of successful deployments, and we have a plan to make you and your customer wildly successful. Without that plan? WOOF.
- 1 Company. 1 Customer. Every interaction with your prospect from your website to proposal and through a services engagement needs to feel like 1 complete and seamless process. Make sure that all of the emails, conversations, notes and people are well documented in your CRM, and are understood by your post sales counterparts. We will take that information to craft compelling service offerings and better tailor services to the unique needs of the customer. If you know something about a customer, I want to know it too. All of the data you capture and notes you enter that you think no one read is exactly the information that a consultant will need to craft a wonderful client experience.
- Involve services early. I like to get involved when a Customer starts to ask “How” questions like “how have other customers done this?” and “What resources do you need from me to be successful?” When you starting hearing “how” questions, those are signals that you are moving closer to closing an opportunity, and you can really hammer home the plan for success.
- It takes a lot to make a stew. The best reps bring a small army to land the large deals, and that means engaging the right people across the organization and within your services team to map out the entire customer life-cycle. In the SAAS world, selling begins when the customer signs, and your services team including implementation, technical support and customer success needs to understand how to make the customer successful beyond the initial order. Introduce those teams and their roles in the sales process and align roles within a sale. I often map to an executive or senior architect, while an implementation consultant maps to a project manager. All of these people are invested in your success and should be involved in your mega deals.
- Know what Customers are really buying when they buy services. Customers don’t buy your product, they buy what it will do for them. A VP of Sales that implements a CRM isn’t buying a CRM, they are buying a more predictable sales process. If you want to start thinking like a consultant, consider the business outcomes your product creates and how success will be measured. When I work with clients I work to uncover and align the goals of their company with the goals of their team and show how it will make an impact. Sometimes that means quantifying a reduction in spend, at others it means improving time to market or improving customer engagement. Get aligned with the outcome that your client wants to create and you will align your success with their success.
- Credential your opportunities. No one knows more about your product or service than your services team – and they are often the keepers of knowledge on use cases and references. It’s incredibly powerful to bring a consultant to meet with a client to discuss how other companies have tackled similar problems – which will credential your opportunity and advance the closure. If you work at a startup or you are selling a new product at an established company, your services team will give your customers the trust and reassurance needed to close the sale.
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* If you see an acronym or word anywhere on the site that you haven’t seen before, I might have posted an explanation here If not tell me and I’ll add it!*
Insightful article. The competition between SaaS providers are getting rough these days. Yes, the demand is high but the competition is equally as high as well. You mentioned pretty doable and reliable tips in this article of yours. Well, it is still up to the customer to choose the SaaS provider they see fit to their company’s needs and demands are. Just market whatever you think will give you an edge in the SaaS market.