Do You Know Every SaaS Company’s Biggest Competitor? It’s Not What You Think
Excel is your worst enemy.
That’s what we learned in the latest episode of the Revenue Growth University podcast. I sat with CloudKettle CEO Greg Poirier to discuss Excel and how tech startups can convince prospective clients to purchase their software instead of sticking to that comfy platform everyone is so used to using.
Poirier has spent years working with and advising SaaS companies in his career, many of which have been startups. In that time, he’s seen a lot of winning ideas come to fruition — and a lot of flops drop into oblivion. What separated the winners from the flops? In large part, it was how they dealt with Excel. Together we discussed what makes Excel so formidable and why SaaS companies struggle to recognize that.
What makes Excel such a formidable competitor?
Poirier had three reasons:
“Everyone already has Excel,” said Poirier. “As a SaaS platform, you’re selling a solution that has a monthly or annual fee, but the company you’re pitching your product to already has Excel on every computer.”
“Everyone already knows how to use it.” And when two of the biggest hurdles SaaS companies face are onboarding and adoption, it can be hard to make to convince a company to put in the effort to learn something new, even if it will save the company money in the long run.
“Excel is extremely reliable and people understand it,” Poirier said. “Yes, it probably doesn’t do a very good job, and it can be super time intensive. But everyone knows that it works. More than likely, someone in the company 10 years ago or so built an excel template that people have been using for a decade and are comfortable with.”
In the end, Excel has established itself as the default approach. It’s simply how things are done. And it’s very difficult to wake people up and show them that there really is a better way.
It’s time to wake up.
So why is it so hard for SaaS companies — which are filled with intelligent and capable people — to accept the fact that Excel is a competitor and a strong one at that?
Ironically, their greatest strength is their greatest blindside. “The commonality with these SaaS companies,” said Poirier, “is that they are typically intelligent, young innovators who have worked in a particular industry, have recognized that their industry relies largely on Excel or pen and paper, and so have gone to work building a much more sophisticated tool to make their industry better.
“But because they are really intelligent and forward facing, having worked with a Macbook for most of their lives, and practically live on an iPhone, they are sometimes fundamentally blind to the concept that maybe someone wouldn’t want an easier way to do something. These SaaS companies have great products, and they understand the pain points of their respective industries. They just struggle to understand what the client’s inability to move away from Excel is. And that’s a huge barrier.”
In the end, whether you like it or not, SaaS companies have to accept that Excel is their biggest competitor. After that, they have to figure out a way to overcome it. Only then can they truly be successful.
Consider this moving forward. It might just change the way you think about your business from now on.
Want to hear the full interview? click here.