I was 24 when I closed my first enterprise level SaaS deal.
I had recently started Spheric Technologies and decided to go straight to the heavy hitters.
We’re talking Fortune 500 companies like Johnson & Johnson, American Express and Procter & Gamble.
(guess the JFDI ethos was alive and well) 😉
And while I had an amazing team of coaches and mentors around me (and an endless supply of Grade A boldness) to carry me through those early deals, they were FAR from smooth.
But over a decade (and tens of millions in enterprise deals under my belt) later, I’ve refined my process into a simple 5 step system for navigating and eventually closing a high value enterprise sale.
While the intrinsic complexities and long sales cycles still aren’t for the faint of heart, this week’s episode will show you the most effective strategy for bringing clarity to the enterprise sales processes while cutting down on sales cycles and frustration.
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At a high level, the process comes down to:
- Get multi-threaded
- Virtual close
- Move metric
- Face to face
- Ask for a POC
While each step is absolutely critical, nothing matters unless you can peg your solution against your prospect’s “Move Metric”.
Meaning, even if you do everything else right, there’s no deal to be had unless the outcome your solution provides can be linked directly to a priority metric on your prospect’s strategic roadmap.
It’s your job to both UNCOVER that move metric as early on as possible — and continuously remind all stakeholders how your solution specifically moves that needle forward better than anything else they might be evaluating.
Once again, navigating enterprise deals is an entirely different beast… but one that as a founder you NEED to be prepared to engage in when the right opp shows up.
Watch the full episode here and then drop me a comment letting me know your biggest challenges or concerns when it comes to locking down an enterprise sale.
What follows below is a lightly edited transcript of the video.
Dan: Hey there. Dan Martell here, serial entrepreneur, investor and creator of SaaS Academy. In this video I’m going to share with you how to navigate an enterprise software deal. If you’re trying to work on that. I’m going to lay down the framework and be sure to say at the end where I’m going to share an exclusive resource called the rocket demo builder to help you actually do your product demos to close deals twice as fast and get them way bigger
Dan: So the other day I had one of my coaching clients, Cole from Localline posts in our Facebook group about how he should approach navigating some of the kind of mid market enterprise deals. He was working on things that are around 30 to 50K in size when typically most of the deals he’s working on were 5 to 6K annual contract value. So I kind of laid out the framework and everybody jumped in and said it was amazing and I thought, you know what, I’ve got to shoot a video on this for my crew. The reality is, is I’ve been selling enterprise deals since I was 24. You know, I’ve sold tens of millions of dollars of software in my career and at 24 when I started spheric technologies, I decided I’m going to sell the fortune 500 companies. So Proctor & Gamble, Dole Foods, Johnson & Johnson, American Express incredibly huge companies that can frustrate the crap out of any entrepreneur.
Dan: I’m going to teach you how to reduce your sales cycle and get the customer or the potential customer to navigate you through that sale in this video. Here we go.
Dan: Number one, get multi-threaded. When you’re selling to an enterprise, you’re not selling to one individual who is making a decision. You’ve got to navigate your way through the different organization chart and people that are going to be part of the deal. And there’s many different folks you could, uh, reach out to that’s going to help you close that enterprise sale. But there’s three I want you to focus on.
Dan: Number one is the economic buyer. This is the person that’s actually responsible for writing the check or signing off on the purchase order to make your deal happen. So figure out early in the process who is that decision making person is so that you can connect with them and make sure you get them onboard in the decision process. Number two is the technical buyer. Essentially, if you’re deploying software in an enterprise, you’re probably going to want to at minimum integrate with their account system, their SSO, their LDAP, whatever they call it, whatever they have. And somebody technically is also going to know how secure you are. What’s your development process? I mean, are you even solvent as a startup? Maybe you’re just getting going. They don’t want them to be, they don’t want to be on the receiving end of somebody that built all this technology, only find out that it gets hacked or it doesn’t last forever. And then the third person and why you got to get multi-threaded through the org chart is the champion. This person sometimes called the coach, they’re going to actually coach you through the process to buy. They’re going to be back channeling with you. The good ones are back channeling, letting you know what the internal meetings, the consensus was potentially the competitors in the evaluation process and help you navigate that enterprise sale.
Dan: So number one, you’ve got to get multi-threaded in your approach to the deal. You got to talk to multiple people involved. But focus on those three which will help you close the enterprise sale.
Dan: Number two, virtual close. One of my favorite things to do, especially using the rocket demo framework, is to ask the person when’s the last time they bought software like ours in the past? And using that as an anchor, I’ll then try to understand from their point of view what were the different steps involved in buying that software. So I want to understand, you know, was there procurement involved? Was there security? Is there going to be legal? Do we need to do contract reviews? Do we need to, uh, you know, do a security audit, whatever’s involved. You want to get that up front. And this is why deals take 12 to 16 months. Because first time entrepreneurs are really non-sophisticated enterprise buyers don’t bother mapping out that buying process and understanding who do I need to friend to navigate an enterprise sale
Dan: Who do I need to have a conversation with to close this enterprise sale and maybe front load some of those activities in those meetings so that when the customer that you’re dealing with finally pulls the trigger and says, Hey, we want to get this done this quarter, those conversations have already happened. So for me, virtual close is getting the customer in the mindset that the software is already bought. They can kind of see it working and I’m using that to kind of, um, understand the whole process that they’re going to, you’re going to need to go through to get them onboard as a customer.
Dan: Number three, move metric. Here’s what I’ve learned, especially at the enterprise level, is they’re not buying software to just help make things better. They need to peg your product to some key internal metric that they have on their strategic roadmap to improve in that quarter or that year. If you cannot demonstrate that your solution is going to be able to make an impact, move a number down.
Dan: You know, reduce costs, increase revenue, etc., Then you’re going to have a really hard time dealing because all of a sudden you’re competing against the must have stuff in the organization and priorities versus the nice to have. So make sure that in the early conversations you understand the metric that’s important. Ideally across all the different contacts at the company so that you continuously remind them how your solution is actually going to help them get that outcome over the competitor and always remind them, because sometimes they forget and they start looking down into the weeds around the features and the integrations. But at the end of the day, it’s all about moving a metric to close an enterprise sale.
Dan: Number four, face to face. This is probably the number one mistake that first time founders executing an enterprise software deal will make, is that they will not invest in getting on a plane and getting face to face with a potential customer.
Dan: At the enterprise level. People want to know that you’re real. Yes, zoom videos. Those are all great things to allow people to build connections in a distributed world. But at some point showing up, having a meeting in person, even having a breakfast or a coffee, etc., will show so much more interest and motivation to the customer that you want to get the deal done that they’re going to. I mean, at the end of the day, business is all about know, like, and trust. And if you think that you can pull that off exclusively through video, uh, I think it’s a huge mistake. If you feel like there’s a real opportunity with a customer, especially if you can get a few of them in the same city, get on a plane, invest that time, invest that budget to make sure that you get face to face. Now, everything after the fact can be on video.
Dan: But in that moment, you want to make sure that you build. There’s something that happens when you connect with somebody, uh, biologically speaking in a room, face to face, pressing hands, shaking, you know, doing a great handshake, looking them in the eyes, explaining them your passion for your product, but you want to make sure that you do that early in the buying process. And then, uh, you can use the video to keep that going. Be it you or your sales team making these connections for your enterprise sale, make sure your team gets involved in the process and make face to face connections in closing an enterprise sale.
Dan: Number five, ask for a P. O. C so a POC stands for proof of concept. One of the things that I’ve seen help navigate and really get enterprise software deals done faster is instead of trying to go for, you know, a six figure or seven figure deal, five figure even, um, you want to go for a POC, most, you know, department leads have a budget for around $5,000 to spend discretionary without needing to go to their CFO or to their department lead to the executive vice president to get budget approval.
Dan: So going for a proof of concept to get your technology deployed to a department, to a group of people is probably the fastest way to get your foot in the door to then expand the account. There’s something that happens when somebody makes a decision to go down a path and work or trial your software, that kind of mentally they stopped looking at the competitive set. Stop looking at other companies that might solve that problem. And I want you to offer that and go for the ask. Okay. Actually ask for the frigging deal. I don’t know why, but some people are just like, they don’t want to scare the customer. They don’t want to, you know, um, cause the person to say no, I don’t want to hear no, but they avoid going for the ask. For me. It’s like, what are we doing next? What’s next steps?
Dan: Are you ready to move forward? When can we get this started? Who do you think should be part of that POC? Here’s how the price point works. We’re going to do this. We can process it on your corporate credit card and then in the future we can renegotiate a larger deployment. And here’s how that will look when you want to get started. Go for the ask.
Dan: So quick review the strategies to navigate an enterprise software deal.
Dan: Number one, you got to get multithreaded and focus on the economic, technical and champion, uh, contacts.
Dan: Number two, go for the virtual close. Ask them what it’s like to buy software and their organization. Understand that buying process.
Dan: Number three, move the metric. Always peg every conversation to a metric that you’re going to move with your software. And your solution.
Dan: Number four, get face to face.
Dan: Number five, ask for the sale or the POC, proof of concept, lower price point. It will be easier for you.
Dan: These above mentioned 5 step sales process will help you and your sales team to navigate an enterprise sale which involves multiple stakeholders and reduce your sales cycle.
Dan: As I mentioned earlier, I want to share with you an exclusive resource called the Rocket Demo Builder™. It’s my nine box model that’s gonna allow you to close deals twice as fast and get more deals done. So you can click the link above to download your copy of the rocket demo framework.
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