Communications and Business Development
1. Stay focused on a vertical in your early days
Concentrating on a vertical keeps your developer team focused and not spread out working on different requirements for various groups. It keeps your sales team focused too, and provides them with references to close additional sales. As you nail a couple financial services firms for instance, it gets much easier to sell to others. Once you gain significant traction in the vertical, then you can expand to others.
2. 'Land and Expand' by targeting progressive business units
Land a small use case with a progressive business unit, and get a contract put together. Once you're established, then you can expand beyond that team into the broader organization with less obstacles in your way.
3. A customer logo can be more important than revenue
In your early days when you're proving yourself, if a large name customer is pushing hard for price concessions, ask to use their logo on your customer page. This gives you credibility as you sell to other potential customers, and will lead to more revenue in the long run than the discount on that particular deal. Be sure to ask for a certain number of reference calls annually too. To have them do 5 reference calls in a year is a great exchange for a discount, and it will be highly impactful when you're closing new business.
4. Determine ideal profile of your buyer, and go after warm
Establish the profile of an ideal buyer of your product, and then leverage relationships you have to get in warm. Too many people get spammed with cold emails, so try relationships from partners, customer references, or advisory boards.
You can setup a User Council because it validates your business model. If you're rolling out a security offering and you have 10 people who can provide feedback on what would be viable and what features they want to see, it can help shape the product. These people will make intros into their networks to help you. For a User Council it is best to target mid-level people because they benefit from adding the experience to their resume and LinkedIn, which is often in-line with their desire to grow their careers.
5. Arm your sales people
Make it easy for your sales team to demo. This especially works nicely if they can make custom branded demos on the fly with ease, which is much simpler to do in the SaaS world than for on-premises software. Customer testimonial videos work nicely too, and some people even commission TCO / Payback model studies to establish value to customers and put real numbers behind their sales talk.
As you grow your sales organization, you want to have a repeatable sales process. Be sure that the infrastructure is scalable, and setup a CRM which can grow with you so that you can capture early tribal knowledge and then bring new hires up to speed quickly and easily.
6. Be wary of resellers & OEM relationships if you sell a SaaS product
A SaaS product for a reseller isn't as lucrative financially as perpetual license software, and as such sometimes you won't get their full attention. It is often tempting to work with a reseller for a variety of reasons, but realize that you also lose control, your message may get diluted, and you're giving up a portion of your profit.
While OEM partners are often a quick way to drive early revenue, they will often seek to white-label your offering which dilutes your brand value and can create revenue concentration concerns for future financing rounds.
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