Before you answer, let’s look at the first reactions you might have when you hear each of these words:
- Vendor: Price based, company first and customer second, less personal, lack of support
- Partner: Trustworthy, vested in your success, provides more value than the solution itself, personal
If you’re in SaaS sales, you may often be classified as a vendor — we’ve all heard about the reputation created by those who sell their software and then leave the buyer to figure out what to do with it. And judging by the first reactions listed above, this “vendor” category isn’t always optimal. To some, this classification even has negative connotations. Because many SaaS vendors are looked at as taking a company-first/customer-second approach, they can also be seen as untrustworthy.
On the other hand, being a partner to your customers helps create retention, trust, loyalty and an overall positive brand image, while keeping both parties vested in success together. Because many of those in the SaaS space don’t have the “partner” reputation, it also sets you apart.
How to Take SaaS Selling to the Next Level
So we know that most of us want to have partnerships — or a relationship above the vendor classification — with buyers. But how can we do that?
Understanding the difference between partners and vendors is the first step. You’ve got that down by now, right?
The second step is all about your selling process. Selling SaaS as a partnership starts with you and your team diving deeper into your customers’ needs, to the point where you can easily articulate the key strategies they are trying to achieve. You must believe you can produce value for the buyer and also believe in helping them achieve their goals.
Here are a few additional tips for you to consider as you work on getting there:
Tip 1: Do research on your prospects/customers before conversations with them. Always come into meetings aware of their current initiatives.
Tip 2: Have deep conversations early on to figure out whether you truly are a fit and how you can better help your buyers.
Tip 3: Watch for customers who treat you like a vendor. Set the tone when this starts to happen. A bad relationship with a customer who treats you like a vendor is never worth the business in the long run to the seller.
Tip 4: When you are being sold to, be aware of vendor/partner relationships. Make sure to stay responsive and honest. This will just help you to further understand what it means to be a partner on the other side of the relationship.
As a vendor, you fill a need with a solution and discuss price. As a partner, you uncover weaknesses, help forecast future analytics and provide insight into a prospect’s organization in multiple ways. You add so much value that when pricing conversations come up, your buyer doesn’t blink an eye.
Modern SaaS organizations need to be proactive and constantly adding value. They don’t just sell their software and leave it at that. They align their sales, marketing and customer success teams to offer customers consulting, content and value beyond the scope of the items listed on their pricing page. They reaffirm the partnership and differentiate themselves from being a vendor.
Use this as a reality check to ensure you are being a partner to your clients and prospects. Then see how your SaaS selling goes to the next level.