Why Is It So Hard To Sell Enterprise Software?

Jan 26, 2017 · 5 min read

I’m in the same boat as you. I’m trying to sell our SaaS sales enablement tool into tech companies like yours. You might be trying to do the same, or trying to reach VPs of other large enterprises with your product.

Enterprise Software Sales Are Tough

If you’ve just hit another brick wall, you might think that’s a bit of an understatement. I’ve been thinking a bit about this recently, and realised that understanding what’s going on and why it’s so hard, is probably the best way I can optimise my sales strategies going forward.

If you’re ahead of me and have already come to this realisation, well done! But perhaps this blog post might throw up a few things or you could add your own experience in the comments?

So, these are the key barriers / friction points / brick walls I keep coming across, and a few ideas about how I’m going to get around them:

Brick Wall #1: Long Sales Cycles

I’m used to being able to make decisions about buying products or services pretty quickly — that’s because BuyerDeck is a lean, mean, agile start up machine. But when I’ve worked for larger tech companies, and when I’ve sold into enterprise businesses, the sales cycle seems to lengthen with the size of the company.

This is a real problem for the sales rep because we’ve got quotas to hit. We’re worried that if we don’t hit quota this month, we won’t be around by the end of that company’s sales cycle to close the deal!

So what’s the answer? It may not be possible to reduce the sales cycle but we can all manage it better. This starts by understanding your customer and what their timeline is. Are you in next year’s budget, are they approaching MLA’s review dates, are there other milestones on their calendar that a sales cycle needs to align with?

To get this information you need to be listening to your customer, asking the right questions and have some industry insight that help you maps out an accurate sales timeline. You need to learn about their procurement, legal, IT review, and risk processes and factor all of this in.

Then you need to get sponsorship from the buyer, a tactile agreement that the timeline works for them and if you hit all the milestones along the way you might have a chance of closing the deal.

And then you need to manage that timeline and make sure all parties do what they’ve agreed.

Our whitepaper Control The Timing Of The Deal explores this in more detail — you can get a your copy here.

Brick Wall #2: Your Product Is Unique

I think what we’ve done with BuyerDeck is create something that addresses a specific problem for sales reps in a really innovative way and it should be a no brainer that you buy our sales portal!

Do you feel the same about your product?

The problem is when you create a unique product, and you’re a start up like us, is that it’s an unproven product and the company doesn’t have any sort of track record.

This means you’ve got to first prove that your product addresses a big enough problem for a prospect to sit up and take notice, then that it works, and finally that your company can deliver.

Furthermore, if your product is truly unique there will be no obvious competitors. While this may seem like a good thing, it makes a competitive procurement process impossible.

For a more mature company your problem will be differentiation. You’re already competing in a crowded marketplace and you’ve got to get your innovative product to stand out from the rest.

One way of doing this is to draw your prospects attention not to your unique product, but first to your exceptional buyer experience.

Brick Wall #3: You Don’t Know Who You’re Selling To

If you want to sell something to BuyerDeck, you just need to talk to Adam or I. If you want to sell to enterprise there are many other people you need to sell to, and each of them will have their own unique problems, motivations and risk criteria.

Just because you have a great relationship with the VP of Sales or CEO doesn’t mean that contracts will get signed.

Therefore you really need to know who the decision makers are: who cares about the problem your solution solves, and who else do they need to involve in the decision making process?

Even if you know who these people are, how can you get access to them so you can sell to them?

This issue is something we have addressed with our sales portal. If you have BuyerDeck your sponsor can invite other decision makers to the join the portal, and you can see who they are. This provides a great opportunity to learn more about them, what content they’re interested in, what their priorities are; and then address any friction points proactively.

Brick Wall #4: No One Wants Change

Another issue we come across is that many companies don’t want to switch to a new product or provider. Sure, our product might be 100 times better than the tool they currently use, or it might save or make them thousands compared to the old incumbents — but who wants to rock the boat and start a procurement and implementation process?

There may also be people within the enterprise that want to sabotage your bid. Perhaps they have close relationships with their current supplier and it becomes political.

To overcome this brick wall you need a combination of things.

· You need to know who the incumbents are so you can differentiate your product and prove ROI. Tools like Wappalyzer and Datanyzer can tell you what software your prospects are using.

· You need to know who the decision makers are (and your enemies) so you can address their concerns and incentivise them to explore your solution,

· And you need to demonstrate a smooth sales and implementation process to reassure customers that there will be no break in service, only gains to be had.

There are more brick walls in enterprise sales that I’ve not tackled here, but I think these 4 are enough to get started with. Let me know what you think, and what other challenges you’ve faced selling tech products. Don’t forget to share your solutions too!

If you want a copy of that whitepaper I mentioned before, you can download it here: Control The Timing Of The Deal

BuyerDeck Blog

We geek out about B2B sales. If you do too, you’ll feel right at home here :-)


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Salespeople choose BuyerDeck over email for sharing content, real time communication with buyers, and analytics on buyer engagement. #B2B #SaaS buyerdeck.com

BuyerDeck Blog

We geek out about B2B sales. If you do too, you’ll feel right at home here :-)

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