First Mover’s Advantage : Freemium –> Enterprise is a critical advantage
by Mike Vietti | Jul 24, 2016
“try before you buy” vs “talk to sales” = checkmate : Sales wound #154
Attn: b2b enterprise sales/marketing/product leaders
“First Mover’s Advantage powered by self-service”
“Try before you buy”, Freemium / Premium / Enterprise, self-service models in the Enterprise are not new but there are few sales teams that truly know how to take full advantage. Typically a Sales leader will immediately see the “freemium” business as a direct competitor to their own sales team.
Heads of Sales typically have these objections to self-service products:
- How can my sales team sell if the prospect simply goes and signs up to begin using the product without having to “talk to sales”?
- How can I ensure they will have the highest value experience if my well trained sales team cannot pitch them directly?
- How will my sales team gather precious intel that is needed to qualify and gain leverage in the sales process?
- We need to stop self-service signups and force a “Talk to Sales” gate so that the sales team can enforce the prospect goes through our process.
Prospect Engagement Killer
Additionally, timing is a critical piece to the enterprise buying cycle and prospects begin educating themselves 3–6 months before they are ready to make the decision. This time increases as the cost of the solution increases.
- $6k-$24k : 2 wks to evaluate and sign
- $25k-$60k : 4–8 wks to evaluate and sign
- $60k — $120k : 2–6 months
- $120k — $250k : 5–10 months
- >$250k : 6–18 months
Given that enterprise buyers want to educate themselves they will typically begin experimenting with products that are low friction first. After they have experimented via self-service with several products and self-educated, then they will reach out to Sales for the official pitch so that they can dig deeper into their evaluation.
If a product has a self-service/freemium/try-before-you-buy option that is a critical First Mover’s Advantage because you now have the opportunity to own the conversation and teach before a competitor. Of course you won’t be able to force the prospect to talk to you, but the content you send them can be very targeted and customized which they will read, especially if it does not sound like templated, automated communication. Sales & Marketing have the opportunity to help the customer along the buying cycle and align timing.
A key to unleashing First Mover’s Advantage is the ability to accurately identify and verify which individuals/groups are in the product.
- Case 1: 5 students from the Philippines signing up and using the product heavily is not interesting to Sales.
- Case 2: 2 engineers, 1 project manager, 1 director of engineering and 1 VP that are using the product is a Sales team’s dream.
Self-Service = Lead Generation for Sales. You want as many users in your product as possible so that you are in their toolkit. When they get hired at an enterprise prospect then they can bring you into the organization.
When you do identify your Ideal Customer Profile upfront, you now have an opportunity to teach, educate and own the conversation vs competitors from the very start. You are in Pole Position and can focus on the timing of when to prioritize this in your pipeline.