Day 0: The start of the software quest
Every good quest starts with a strong desire or need. My partner who is a consultant had a great wish to purchase software to backup his client's Google workspace environment. It was an unnecessarily inefficient, tiresome, and expensive process for both parties. (I would love to hear your thoughts on how you would optimize the below customer journey. As it was not a terribly bad experience but just a complete waste of everyone's time and resources. ) I have documented below the entire process step-by-step. It is a great exercise for any organization to reflect on the journey a customer goes through and how the experience ways up. I would recommend if possible someone to do a ' mystery shop' on your behalf. It's amazing what insights you can get from reviewing a sales process.TLDR: scroll to the bottom for my take on a "seller-free sales process" eutopia
Day 1-4: Research
And actually what happens at the start of the quest? Research. Where do you start researching software? Normally for me it still starts with a Google search then various websites, blog posts, YouTube videos, third-party review sites like G2 & Capterra, potentially CrunchBase, then even asking for referrals, and finally looking at the company on LinkedIn or on various Social Media.
A list was drawn up of a few contenders that would be a good fit for this solution one was chosen in particular because of compliance issues and location in Europe. So that was his starting point. He filled in the form to request a demo.
DAY 5 - Getting to the demo form
He wanted a trial to run a few tests and make sure the functionality matched his needs. He called the phone number on the website and there was no answer. So without any other way to start a trial by himself, he reluctantly filled out a 'request a trial' form. HE GOT NO RESPONSE.
DAY 6 - No response
He emailed asking for an update and mentioned he was keen to progress to trial/demo. HE GOT NO RESPONSE.
DAY 7 - Callback
The sales rep was helpful but he turned out to be an enterprise sales rep and couldn’t help him directly with the trial. He also didn’t seem to know the number of licenses he requested for the trial even though that was part of the form he filled out. He answered some questions, mentioned a trial should be no problem, and told me the small client BDR would follow up with me on his return from holiday early next week. He spent about 30 minutes on the phone.
He filled in the form once again. This time he received a call back from sales - 48 hours after the initial request.
DAY 14 - Chasing the rep
After a week with no follow up my partner sent an email to chase the rep. He got a call back from the small business rep who spent 20 mins on the phone discussing the solution. Turns out that there is no trial available for small business clients. Instead, a demo was to be scheduled 4 days later
DAY 18 - Demo with a Junior Sales rep
He finally went through a demo with the junior rep. The rep was a student working part-time and was friendly and helpful. However, he couldn’t answer all the questions himself and needed to first check with colleagues for some answers.
In total, the meeting took about 1hr 15mins of which 30 minutes were general sales “blah blah” ,10 mins was an intro to the company and the rep and 35 mins was the actual demo of the product.
DAY 19 - Emailed answers to questions from a demo
He got the answers to my questions by email the following day. At this stage my partner had to discuss some missing features with his client.
DAY 20 - Discount received
Without asking for a discount he received an email with an offer of 15% off as compensation for the missing features. There were several emails back and forth as the contract had 3 years instead of 1-year commitment and the documentation didn’t reflect the discount that was offered and the clients name was also missing.
DAY 21 - Back & forth
There were 4 further emails back and forth. In total there were 14 emails sent throughout this process.
DAY 24 - Closed won
Documentation was signed
DAY 26 - Onboarding
Finally received an email with the setup and login details from the onboarding team.
“Overall, this sales process took several weeks, repeated chasing and around 5 - 6 hours’ time on my side I’d say. An insane amount for a small contract and relatively simple SAAS product! 1-2 hours max should have covered everything. The lack of response/information and incorrect info brought me to a point where I considered other providers.”
The total value of the contract was approximately €1000 per year in total. It took several man hours of paid time from various sales reps and several weeks to close the deal. At a guess, this grossly inflated their CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) especially considering the low contract value.
In comparison, he also bought a few pairs of fancy new speakers for our own home which here probably worth in and around the same price. He didn't speak to anyone and he did his own research. He was in control of the whole sales process from start to finish. He was even able to choose which colour , cable type and any other options he wished all by himself. That sales process was way more efficient, more direct and pain free.
So what if the Saas sales process was able to replicate e-commerce sales?
Imagine they removed the sales led demo approach and gave back the opportunity to customer to choose for themselves how and when they want to interact with Sales?
Most businesses and products feel that their process is too complex or that it is just not possible to have a completely seller-free process.
My recommendation is to identify those products and services that have a lower price point and have a high CAC rate and experiment to see if you can lower the cost of CAC and increase your sales velocity by removing sales reps. Think of an experience where your customer goes to your website, does all the research they want to, gets all the answers to the questions they have instantly, can get access to customer testimonials or case studies can ask all the questions that they need to on the spot right there and then through live chat. They can book a calendar appointment to a rep's calendar if they should choose to or they can phone to answer any questions that you might have.
Likely your potential customers are going to your website with the question they want to be answered. Time is short. Your leads want to move on with the process and you want to speed things up after the question is answered. Imagine you could then choose a product or service that you want. It's going to be the best fit for you, knowing that you had thoroughly researched everything. That you can just click on the add cart option and check out on your own, nice and easy. No pressure or wasted time.
Imagine that there is a really simple return policy. So if you don't like the product or the service doesn't suit you for any reason you're not locked in for 12 months. You can simply click "I no longer want this". You don't need to talk to anybody you don't need to do anything just a clear process.
What you are actually doing, in reality, is taking away all the frustration from the customer. Taking away any fear of purchasing. All the facts and figures, all the information that they need to show to their boss for approval is already there. So you make your customers look efficient, professional, and knowledgeable. No bad eh?
My question to you is; Can you afford not to invest in this seller-free approach? Can you imagine how much you would save in time, resources & energy? No more back and forth and wasted effort.
Imagine all your competitors are doing this already. Who do you think your customers would choose? Who would you go to if you wanted a solution? You always go with the easiest and best choice right? If you could avoid a lengthy sales process that was antagonizing and frustrating and a waste of your time you would avoid it right?
Think of it from the customer's perspective. Show real empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. I know everyone says this. However, indulge me, really take a moment to step-by-step think through exactly from where that moment of desire or wish for need came from to literally typing in the credit card numbers. Breakdown step-by-step what happens. You will be amazed at what you learn.
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