How do you sell your SaaS product to enterprise customers?

by Steli Efti

Elephant_Enterprise

There's a reason why enterprise deals are big, and it's not just about how many users you sign up. Selling SaaS products to enterprise customers is arduous.

Can you afford long sales cycles?

You typically need 6 to 18 months to close an enterprise deal.

If you don't have the capacities to sell and service large enterprise customers don't despair. You can start to gain momentum in the SMB space first and later go upstream into enterprise.

First you need to reach the right people within the enterprise. Do this with cold referral emails. Once you've identified the right person, use them as an entry into the enterprise and develop an internal champion.

During the sales process you will be challenged on everything that makes SaaS SaaS.

  • SaaS typically has a self-signup model. But enterprises want to be sold by an account exec.
  • SaaS typically comes ready-made. But they want a customized version.
  • SaaS typically is in the cloud. But they will want to look at an on-premise version.

Enterprise customers  are very concerned about security. If they think you don't understand their security needs, it will kill your deal.

Enterprise customers want more control over users and data.

You need to understand the buying process of the enterprise and know the stakeholders involved in closing the deal.

Enterprise customers often have their own contracts, written up by their own legal departments. The legal counsel required to decipher their corporate lawyer speak will cost you many thousands of dollars.

Know what you can and cannot promise

Be upfront. Don't give promises you can't keep or commit to requests you can't fulfill. Don't say yes to everything they propose.

If an enterprise customer wants to do a pilot first, proactively manage the process. You want to make sure that your product gets adopted.

Charging for enterprise deals 

These are just some of the reasons why you want to charge a huge markup on your regular monthly price.

They will request discounts anyway, so be sure to start with a very high price that gives you enough room to negotiate. 

(Sometimes you will negotiate about price with one department, and once you've reached an agreement it will be passed on to another department, and they will request a discount again.)

Offer them a big (and expensive) training and support package.

Don't accept anything less than a pre-paid 1 or 2 year contract. It's not worth to sell monthly deals to enterprise customers. The work you'll have to put in the deal and then making them a successful customer is going to be huge.

So make sure you're getting paid enough money to make it worth the effort. 

The awesome thing here is that just one large enterprise client could drive massive growth to your SaaS business.