SaaS-founders may face situations where prospects already have other solutions.
Many times, these incumbents are big, multi-billion dollar software companies with a product in your specific area.
In a few mentoring sessions, I’ve observed that founders tend to worry about it if it’s a large, well-known player, they compete against. After all, their product is quite young and lacks many features compared to the product of the established firm.
Also, these big firms are seen as a strategic vendor by the prospect, as they offer many products in a lot of areas. Their account team has good relationships with many departments and has used the big marketing budgets to woo decision-makers and fly them to their conferences.
But actually, while these points suggest that the odds are in favor of the big incumbent, they’re not.
As a start-up, you have a great arsenal of tools to win a client and the account teams of the big firm have their fair share of issues to deal with, such as:
Legacy architecture (pre-cloud) and slow product development cycles
- Immature cloud solutions
- Old UIs need a lot of training and put users off
- Expensive maintenance and complex integration projects
- Inflexibility when it comes to negotiating contract terms and pricing with long approval cycles
- Revenue recognition issues when selling a license in combination with custom development on the product
So, they may be big, rich, and scary, but they are also expensive, inflexible, and look like a product from the 90s.
In order to beat them, make sure that you focus on your superpowers and ensure that the prospect understands them.
Customers of legacy systems are oftentimes disappointed by long release cycles and slow delivery of new features. Let your counterpart know that you can plan the feature in a certain sprint and let them know when you will deliver it.
Make sure they understand how your open-API works and how easy it is to integrate with other features - they will be able to save a six-digit project compared to an incumbent.
When two corporates negotiate, it can take months until they come to an agreement.
The big vendors aren’t really flexible when it comes to their processes, commercial terms, and contracts - any exceptions will need approvals and the account teams will have to follow a specific process.
As a founder and CEO, you can handle this more easily and take a lot of friction out of the process for your counterpart.
Never underestimate the power of a modern UI! Old products are often hard to use, frustrate users and require big training efforts.
Customers have little ability to influence the roadmap of a big corporate software vendor. Make sure the counterpart understands that you will make their life easy with a tool that’s easy to use.
Invite them to join your user community and take their feedback on the roadmap - build the key feature that helps them reach their objectives.
Customer success & support
Ever tried the support of a big vendor? Exactly!
CEO dedication with a motivated small team will go a long way. This setup will beat the experience of a large vendor support hotline any day.
Make sure, the counterpart understands that you will personally make them successful.
Why not invite them and other customers to a slack channel?
Faster time to value
Big tools of big vendors will be expensive to implement, make your prospect understand that a SaaS vendor can be easily tested, and used, and needs no big implementation project.
Your product can deliver value easily 3-4 months earlier than the big corporation's product will and will cost only a fraction of the implementation.
Thanks to the cloud architecture, your solution will also scale indefinitely and the prospect has not to worry about anything. Neither does the IT department.
Be confident, deliver value and you will easily win deals in big corporations against the multi-billion international software vendors.