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The lifetime value of an enterprise customer and how to get them to buy into your SAAS product

An enterprise buyer team does not purchase the same way as a startup would, and it’s not because they’re behind the times or slow. Gaining and maintaining a valued enterprise customer relationship is essential because enterprises have some of the lowest churn rate, but how do you get them to buy into SAAS products in the first place, and how do you get them to stay?

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When it comes down to it, startups and larger enterprises search for different approaches to sail to success. A startup and an established business require different qualities in a SAAS product, and therefore purchase them differently. As the SAAS industry has rocketed in the last ten years, the challenge to onboard larger companies, is at an all time high, with new competition constantly arising. So, what are the essential qualities the larger clients look for when they buy, and what’s their process like?

How Startups and Enterprise teams buy

Startups

When a startup purchases, they’ll watch the video or webinar, maybe even ask for a one to one demo though often they’ll simply sign up, trial the product, and ask a few questions.

This also follows the process by which they market to other companies. Their main focus is circled around creating quality content, sending emails and running adverts. As a result, people come to the website and some sign up and buy. After these organic sales, they send the rest a sequence of automated emails and convert some customers over time.

Enterprise

When a large enterprise buyer team investigates options, they look for specific features that target more established companies. We have to consider that:

  1. They may not sign up at all
  2. They may ask a series of questions without giving details away
  3. They’ll look for comparison tables and in depth features videos, white papers and more.
  4. They’d of course look at your team and how long you’ve been around because no-one wants to take a chance.

They might then ask for a demo, and if it possesses the key qualities they look for, they usually sign up for a trial. If the product fits these requirements, and fulfils the company needs, they’ll purchase. However, closing some enterprise deals can take up to a year or more, with a recent study from Sirius Decisions, working with over 1000 B2B companies, confirming that large enterprises have a three step buying process.

Sometimes you get the feeling that startup folks think people in large companies are a little slow and pedantic, maybe even dumb, however, they work in a different way and by not understanding it, startups end up losing out on companies for whom purchasing our top end packages are normal.

Features enterprise buyer teams are looking for

It’s different when selling to a manager who is part of a large organisation who has security and compliance procedures that cannot be ignored, along with a dedicated buyer team to investigate products. For your SaaS app to reach the standards, the buyer team are mainly looking for features including:

Audit logs: To track back all actions in case something goes wrong.

Role based access control: Different users have different permissions based on their role. Someone who takes care of billing does not need permission to make deployments.

Team management: Adding and removing team members is essential.

SLA: A service level agreement, in which the service provider is available a minimal number of hours, along with a guaranteed level of quality. This contract reassures them of support and defines the level of service expected from the service provider, if they were to have a problem with the service.

Product Security: Reporting and analytics are essential to an app, proving that it’s providing value. If you’re in a monthly meeting and explaining the value of your app, it’s pretty important to share the stats. If you’re providing value and have facts and figures to prove it, it’s worth gold.

**Trust: **It’s always a wake up call when people ask questions indicating they’re looking for reassurance that you’re a real active live company that is not going to disappear in a few months. It’s worth asking whether the about us page indicates the size of team and longevity of the company. Does the home page indicate activity and availability? e.g. time stamped updates or live chat.

How to reach those who aren’t signing up

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Enterprise buyers will sometimes directly communicate via email or live chat, when making an enquiry, despite the links on the home page and the feature lists. They won’t necessarily sign up but you still have their email in your leads list. If you’re an intercom user you’d know exactly where those leads sit within the intercom system and lets face it, you might just be tempted to give them less attention than the full sign ups. There is exceptional value in sending them the material they need in order to create trust and have the appropriate information and documentation to move to the next step.

This can include sending whitepapers, comparison tables and a list of the features, along with information about the company. Demo videos and videos covering the full set of features in detail are particularly useful, explaining exactly what your product has to offer efficiently.

By adopting industry-focused features, enterprise customers will be more inclined to investigate your product. This combined with a targeted and well-thought-out SAAS sales model, will indefinitely generate and nurture leads within larger companies.

Maintaining the relationship with an enterprise customer

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A study from Groove showed that there’s a 5–20% chance of a new prospect purchasing a product, differing from the 60–70% chance of a successful sale to an existing customer. This study proved that building and maintaining long-term client relationships is one of the most important strategies to use. Without a high level of trust, customer service and a valuable product, enterprise customers won’t stay, so, not surprisingly, it is key to keep up the quality!

For startups striving for success, it is major to recognize the differences in perspective between smaller and larger companies, and in particular, what they need. No one wants to buy something that’s not helping them to the fullest extent. By reviewing your solution, you can monitor your product’s relevance and build new ideas that are essential to the clients. If another product on the market does exactly what yours does, there has to be a uniqueness to separate it from the competition, and make it an essential for a large enterprise.

Where we messed up

Upscope.io lets you instantly see a confused user’s screen to guide them to a purchase. We had the same dream of most startups: Send emails and produce content and let them sign up. Then send them automated emails to convert the unsure.

The problem was that we kept seeing people ask questions and disappear, never to return. It’s only when we started talking in depth with larger clients that we realised they were not just being dumb when asking about e.g. Single Sign On or HIPAA compliance. That old lesson of getting out of the building and listening, the one we thought we knew, came back to us.

Now, while we have not set ourselves fully for enterprise, you’ll see some of the changes we have made on our pricing page and (soon near time of writing) on our home page. We’re a little better at listening to their requests for SSO or compliance to a regulation that does not come out for another year or an SLA adjustment. Some of it might be boring as hell but we understand why they ask 🙂

The lifetime value of an enterprise customer and how to get them to buy into your SAAS product
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