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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales Management'>Sales Management</a>
Sales Leadership
Canadian Professional Sales Association

In this episode of the CPSA Social Selling and Tech show, we'll discuss what’s needed to successfully sell Software as a Service into larger organisations.

Our guest is Jeremy Ames, Founder at Hive Tech HR, a tech and strategy consulting company based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Listen to this episode of the CPSA Social Selling and Tech Podcast and discover:

* What does the SaaS selection process look like?
* How can sales pros position themselves as a trusted resource rather than a pushy salesperson?
* What are some of the typical objections to buying new technology within larger companies and how can salespeople overcome them?
* After the sale has been closed, how can salespeople help to ensure a smooth implementation - so that user adoption happens throughout the organization; meaning a higher likelihood of renewed, ongoing SaaS licenses?

Want to hear more? Check out these bonus insights:

* How can salespeople shorten the SaaS buying cycle?
* Is the implementation stage the biggest block to renewals and ongoing business?
* How critical is training to adoption?

Read the edited transcription:

Bill: Jeremy Ames, welcome to the Social Selling and Tech Show.

Jeremy Ames: Thank you. Great to be here, Bill.

Bill: I'm super excited for this chat today. We're going to uncover some awesome tips to help sales people in the software-as-a-service sector. Firstly, let's talk about the product selection. Before a conversation has happened between the sales rep and the prospect, there's that huge selection process, which seems to get bigger and bigger. Talk to me a bit about what that looks like, so the independent research and the interaction with vendor content ahead of that actual inbound inquiry.

Jeremy Ames: It's very important for somebody who's jumping into the situation, into that sales cycle to really understand what's happened before they enter the door because it varies greatly, and in today's day and age, it varies even more so than even five years ago. A lot of companies are trying to do a lot of that upfront research themselves, and they have more information at their fingertips, not only the traditional stuff of going to the vendor's websites, but there's also, at this point, there's communities that discuss different products, even LinkedIn. There's also independent software, independent software advice type websites you can go to to look at reviews, so finding out how much has happened even before you walk in the door is huge, and what kind of process might've already been put in place. There might've been a consult and engage to help with the selection. The company might be trying to do it on their own. Your best bet is to really dig in to find out as much as you can about what's happened already because that way, you're not coming in just basically with any sort of assumptions in the process.

Bill: Let's continue down that process then. We're now going to look at the stage of building trust. Social selling into selling to larger companies is often a complicated process. How can sales pros position themselves as a trusted resource rather than a pushy sales person?

Jeremy Ames: Basically, respect the process. You basically, you need to not necessarily enforce whatever typical sales process you have in terms of getting from steps one through five, but each company that you're going to sell to is most likely, they have in their mind what their process is, and they may even have a third party helping them who has their own process. In order to not seem pushy, the best bet is to listen to what the prospect is looking for. Maybe they want a shorter demo just to get a flavor for your product versus going into, launching into some huge walkthrough, as an example. You really need to respect that process.

The other bit of advice is make sure that you're willing to say no. I think that what I've seen from the clients that we work with and we're doing a selection process, for example, it's the vendors who always say yes that their product can do everything, that their support team can do everything, that they can train you on every aspect of the product. Those are the ones that start raising alarm bells for the prospect, so that ability to say, "You know what? We're strong in some other areas, but in this particular area of the product or in our company, it's not our forte." That actually gains more respect than it loses.

Bill: Now, let's talk a bit about negotiation. The business case is being made, and we're at that fantastic time where lots of salespeople love this stage. They thrive on it, and it's a negotiation. What are some of the typical objections to buy new technology or perhaps replacing technology that was only unimportant to the company a few years before, particularly within larger companies, and how can salespeople overcome them?

Jeremy Ames: I mean, there's a whole host of objections at this point. I'd look foolish if I didn't bring up cost first because the cost of these solutions, especially when you're talking about per-employee-per-month situations, which is a very typical structure of a contract that adds up when you start multiplying it out, times 12 times the number of employees, and then you start adding on implementation costs that tend to be pricey, especially ... There's a huge variability, but that's a big obstacle and a conversation that they need to get past.

Another thing that happens is the client might be dealing, or the prospect might be dealing with too many vendors at this point, so you really, to counteract that, you want to be the vendor that's easy to deal with, not the one that creates another headache for the customer.

In terms of cost, obviously, focusing more on what the benefit is and less on the cost, speaking less about the actual dollars and cents and focusing on what their ROI might look like and trying to decrease their fear of how disruptive the implementation would be. Start talking to them from the very beginning about what they can do to make that implementation better because they tend to get scared by that part of the whole process.

Bill: Perfect. They've bought in. The negotiations happen. They've signed off. The deal has been closed. Everything's looking great. How can salespeople then help to ensure a smooth implementation so the user adoption happens throughout the organization, meaning a higher likelihood of a renewed and ongoing business.

Jeremy Ames: Wow. This is a tricky one. To be honest, it's a pretty huge gap, and not just in software sales, but in any kind of, let's say you're selling security solutions, and now they go to implement the security in the company. There's a basically, there's a connection that needs to be established between that implementation and tying back to the sales because a lot of times, you do lose that control, and your name is basically tied to this whole situation. In Some cases, some of the compensation might be tied to the success of the implementation and how long they end up staying a customer. You really need to solve this organizationally, structure things in such a way that it's not just, you don't say sayonara as the sale person but you return back to that implementation. There's connection points. The relationship between you as a sales person and that client continues over the course of it.

You also, if you think there's a problem with your implementations, be vocal about it and try to actually, if you can create relationships with the really good implementation partners within your company, because it does vary individually and by teams, the better you can get these deals that you're closing into the hands of good implementers. It's going to just be a win-win across the board.

Bill: You're talking there about ensuring the sales person is having regular conversations with the client and understanding what their goals are, what their needs are. Is there a lot to be said for also spending time with your internal front and back end developers and your marketing team and the guys who are building the roadmap for the next generation of features for your particular technology.

Jeremy Ames: Absolutely. I mean, the companies that it's ... It's actually a good analogy. I do a lot of my work in the HR space, and there's a lot of conversion, and it's very valid conversation about HR operating in silos, and so you have the recruiting department who doesn't talk to the department that brings in the new hires that doesn't talk to the department that worries about the talent management. The same thing is true from a software company standpoint where if the sales team is not talking to the implementation team, the implementation team is not talking to the support team, and none of them are talking to training, and even fewer are talking to the product development teams, that's a recipe for disaster, and I've seen that happen in different organizations, whereas if they're all part of this whole life cycle of the customer and communicating, and it's, even ties back, like when support has a huge say in things, and they can tell back to both the sales team and to the product team what needs to change, that's a sign of a very healthy organization.

Bill: Just finally to recap, what are your top two or three tips to help salespeople, sell SaaS in larger organizations, and also to retain that business that they'd want.

Jeremy Ames: Selling it to large organizations is complicated. The first step in the process is finding out who you need to speak to and who the influencers are, who are the people who are just out there poking around and who are the ones who are the decision makers. Really, my biggest piece of advice is you really want to understand the overall buying team and who they're comprised of, and not to necessarily put your stake in people who aren't going not be the ones making the final decision. Try to create those relationships with those who are going to be making that, signing on the bottom line. If that means trying to get some face time with the CFO, that's oftentimes where this is headed where you can impress everyone, but when it comes down to dollars and cents, they're the showstopper.

If the VP of HR, for example, I sell, like I said, I do my work in human resources primarily, if it's the VP of HR, creating that connecting but not being sleazy either. I have a lot clients that I've helped who they recognize when somebody's trying to just basically put, or whatever the expression is, to basically try to sell them on the, "I can get you tickets to an event," or the stuff that's not really substantive. It's clearly a sales technique, so trying to be real with those people that you connect with. That was just one, actually. I probably have a couple of others, but.

Bill: Well, I think that was a pretty big one, and that's a great way to leave it for today. That just leaves me to say, Jeremy Ames, thanks very much for being the guest.

Jeremy Ames: It was my pleasure, Bill.

Bill: This is until next time. Happy selling.

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