The Sales Ready Product: Compressing B2B Sales Cycles — Part 2

A better way to build your company and products

Bill Portelli
Dec 6, 2017 · 13 min read
  • 4 different SRP go-to-market options: Definitions and examples of In-Person Demos, SaaS, Product Downloads and Free Utilities
  • Sales Alignment: How to align your SRP approach with any of the three common B2B sales models — customer self-service, transactional sales and enterprise sales — based on an analysis of your product’s price and complexity

The SRP journey

To create a powerful SRP, begin with a highly compelling use case in which the user has a real pain point and an urgency to move. Enable the customer to rapidly integrate their data into your product during the trial. These are sure fire methods to bring the prospect to a “light switch” moment — when the prospect experiences immediate insight into the value of your product.

Drive Alignment

Gaining the benefits of a Sales Ready Product strategy requires cross-functional alignment. Integrate company activities and metrics to drive incremental internal improvements at every stage of the prospect and customer journey. At each stage, employ measurable and finely tuned acts of daily customer engagement focused on research-backed personas and value propositions.

Create a Plan

Build a cohesive long-term strategy. All SRP approaches involve cross-functional work and metrics across a series of 7 Stages:

  • Product Packaging — Package the product for simple distribution, installation/provisioning, downgrades and easy expansion.
  • Web Experience — Optimize your marketing focus and the prospect website journey around the compelling use case from discovery to registration.
  • Product Provisioning or Installation — Integrate wizard-driven activation, automated help support, technical marketing content and information for paid-products.
  • Data Aggregation/Integration — Create seamless integration of prospect/customer data to your system for rapid demoing and to automatically trigger context and persona specific marketing nurture.
  • Sales Conversion — Automatically trigger sales tools and actions based on specific prospect/customer product usage. Automate purchases.
  • Customer Success — Automate upgrades and expansions, and trigger your customer success and product enhancement processes.

Be Agile

Don’t do everything at once. To reinforce progress and highlight success, drive towards monthly and quarterly “wins” seeking to gather market, customer, product usage data and inside/outside sales team feedback. Focus on multiple small wins versus one big win and avoid investments in long tail features that only serve a few power users versus features that drive a broader growth base. Measure results and iterate from there.

Prepare for a Culture Shift

Be prepared to change tools, processes and even your culture. The SRP approach is a product-led go-to-market strategy. For instance, this means that your development team is no longer a back-end fulfillment organization reacting to backlog specs handed to them by product management. Instead your development team’s role is to analyze product usage patterns in real time to add features and drive improved customer conversion and satisfaction. Your enterprise sales team requires training on how to uplift customer tool conversations to customer value discussions. Marketing and product management teams need to think like data scientists.

Assign an Executive Owner

An SRP changes your company’s priorities and investment decisions in tools, training and processes. Leadership for this DNA change must come from the top.

Rethink your Metrics

  • The SRP expands your available metrics: An SRP approach requires capturing many metrics that span the marketing and sales funnel, customer product usage and adoption, customer success and financial data. Simplify these SRP metrics by summarizing around the customer journey, product adoption and business. Use this data to measure, iterate and improve the prospect’s product usage experiences and to increase the resulting conversion to paid licenses.
  • Define your guiding metric: To keep the organization focused on the most relevant direction, consider defining your single most crucial metric to your business. Daily active users? CPU hours utilized? Storage? Bandwidth? Flights booked? Dollars under management? Reduced customer churn? All activities should lead there.

SRP approach details

The following sections outline the cross-functional team efforts and metrics needed for each of the four SRP options — In-Person Demo, Product Download, SaaS and Free Utilities. The comprehensive implementation detail in these sections stems from years of direct experience and lengthy conversations with superior teams and experts in the field.

In-Person Demo

The In-Person Demo approach is used to augment your enterprise account management and Challenger sales techniques to accelerate the prospects’ time-to-value. It is characterized by an on-premise sales team interacting with the prospect.

Product Download

Software companies sometimes utilize an application Product Download SRP approach. This approach employs a lighter weight open source or proprietary version of the enterprise product to seed and accelerate market penetration to target personas and use cases.

SaaS

The SaaS SRP approach has several aspects in common with the Product Download SRP. Both options are hands-off by the sales team until post-product provisioning and initial usage triggers purchasing interest. A premium is placed on ensuring a top-notch, customer-driven experience in a SaaS SRP just as in the Product Download SRP. However, the micro-activities differ considerably because control and storage of prospect data sits squarely in the vendor’s SaaS cloud. For instance, server, storage and bandwidth costs should be considered when selecting a “free forever” versus time-based trial strategy.

Free Utilities

The Free Utility SRP approach is used in conjunction with and as an input into any of the other three SRP approaches to create awareness of a vendors’ products while the prospect is still in the needs/solutions discovery phase of their buying cycle. In this approach, release free enterprise software utilities into the market either as a software download or in a publicly available cloud. Target your prospects with elegant utilities that create awareness of the need for your product category and product.

At a Glance

For your reference, please see a comparison chart of the 4 different SRP approaches, below. Low/Med/High refer to the relative difference of each of the 4 SRP approaches for each row, not to an absolute level of effort or quality.

Final Thoughts

At last count, there were 5000+ industry sales and marketing automation tools — there will be more. Apart from a few exceptions, I did not attempt to map commercial 3rd party automation tools to the detailed steps provided in each SRP approach. The individual tools are less important than enacting a smart, measurable process in which you:

  1. Focus on your customer: Build a demo/trial with a highly compelling use case that addresses a real pain point.
  2. Use customer data: Automatically integrate prospect and customer data into your product to drive customer “light switch” conversion moments.
  3. Align companywide: Drive revenue-centric product development focused on conversion moments.

  1. Nick Bonfiglio, Mickey Alon, Myk Pono. “Mastering Product Experience in SaaS — How to Deliver Personalized Product Experiences with Product Led Go-to-Market Strategy.” E-book. intrinsicpoint.com. October 3, 2017.

CEO Quest Insights

CEO Quest helps early and growth stage founders and CEOs accelerate growth and hit funding targets with evidence-based coaching in the business domains of product, revenue engine, funding, people, and systems design.

Bill Portelli

Written by

CEO Advisor, Board Member, Technology Advisor. Company founder & entrepreneur. Changing the way the world builds SW; Friends and Family

CEO Quest Insights

CEO Quest helps early and growth stage founders and CEOs accelerate growth and hit funding targets with evidence-based coaching in the business domains of product, revenue engine, funding, people, and systems design.