In the golden age of Enterprise software sales, one of the last things an enterprise sales rep wants to do is hand over software to a prospect. This was mainly driven by the fact that sales reps don’t want the prospect to “twiddle” with the software before they know how to guide the prospect to a decision that put money in their pockets. As a member of these types of sales teams for more than a decade, I recall that we all lived by the creed that giving access to the software too early can result in a disaster, a lost deal and missing quota.
One of my favorite memories that exemplifies this situation was while working as a Sales Engineer for a software company in Manhattan. My sales rep instructed me to refuse giving the trial keys to the customer until we had a commitment on the success criteria of the trial. Fast forward 45 minutes into the meeting with unmet-demands for software keys and a very prominent CTO threw his laptop at me, as it zoomed over my head and hit the wall – I remember thinking, we are going to win this one. And eventually we did to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars in a market with multiple competitors. The success of that deal boiled down to understanding the prospects motivation and needs, then crafting a one on one experience for them that made sure they saw that value shine through in the software.
Fast forward to the year 2011 where the world around us has changed and the software sales cycle has been dramatically disrupted. Prospective customers can now surf the web for a selection of on-demand offerings to meet their needs. For the most part, those prospects can create and interact with a free trial with just a few keystrokes and a minute or two. SaaS applications are judged in the blink of an eye and just as quickly as the prospect showed up on the front door, they left out the back barely leaving a trace.
Accepting the new sales cycle of the cloud services era is difficult for most ISVs. The lack of control, the lack of visibility and the difficulty in forecasting ongoing subscription revenues is difficult to say the least. But it’s the new reality for the ISV. And for startups like OnboardAvenue, there is a new opportunity to help those ISVs gain a competitive edge and embrace the sales cycle disruption.