Selling software isn't easy. Selling software when you haven't before can be quite a challenge. Pivoting from services to selling software is, in my opinion, one of the toughest transition in an organization. I joined a company during a very crucial and exciting time in their development last year. They were a service organization in the early stages of developing a Saas product. Many companies seem to be navigating through similar waters & when you have an existing sales team, it can be a rough course. I learned the hard way that it often requires rewiring your sales technique to fit technology & changes the ways you interact with customers to make the sell. In my past, I had had the opportunity to undergo Challengers Sales training which helped put into perspective the ways your brain must be retrained for selling software as a service. Here were my key takeaways from transitioning into a more product-minded business developer.
Don't be the Yes Man. Transitioning from services to software can be toughest when you're working in direct contact with the client. You naturally want to bend over backwards for them & often times this can be detrimental for your tech organization. Doing everything a customer requests doesn't solve the problem and leads to often avoidable tech debt. Instead, try listening to your customer and get really comfortable asking Why...a lot! You have to get down to their real needs instead of just implementing solutions they believe they've thought of already. This can also lead you down Being able to convey this WHY to your product or engineering teams will help them uncover the best "how" to solve the problem & validate the possible solutions before implementing a new feature.
The customer is not your friend. My key take away above all others had been that I couldn't use my charisma to get the sale. I had to start changing the tone of my client relationships in order to harness some constructive tension. Yes, it's always fun to go smooze & treat your clients to dinner but it's even more FUN when you're revered as the subject matter expert who has successfully disrupt their way of working and in turn provided a revolutionary product that helps them accomplish their tasks better, faster. Smoozing is a way clients gets out of sitting in the office where the work is still there when they return. Providing efficiency through carefully solution software products allows them to blow through their workload faster than ever & get back to the things they love.
Let the Product do the talking. To sell software, you gotta know the software and the best way to really know it, is to use it. Try to use your product daily, for at least 15 minutes. When I worked on a DAM product, our team would use the platform to store our vacation photos or funny memes. Doing so helped to quickly uncover bugs or bring forth feature improvements we hadn't thought of. For certain software, such as those geared for B2B or Enterprise solutions, this might not be so easy. Talk to your team about setting up a demo account to "play around" and do some role-play with a target user to see if you can find any obvious gaps. I've never had a customer who hasn't been willing to beta test a product of mine to date.
Bring the voice inside! More today than ever before, the role of the BizDev or AM has changed in the Saas department. If you're in the tech business, the intel you have about your customer needs must be brought into the organization at a deep level. Client managers are well equipped to gain key insights from customers that wildly improve the outcomes of products. You just have to be asking the right questions and providing the responses back to your dev & design teams for team solutionizing. Do a ride along with a product person or UX designer and start to dive deeper into the customer's day to day: their challenges, their joys and bring that voice into your organization. The product will develop with that insight in mind and can help you attain product market fit.