In the tech space, there seems to be a never-ending debate between choosing SaaS solutions or dedicated, built-from-scratch, in-house services. Within the affiliate industry, this debate often surrounds in-house affiliate network’s platforms and SaaS platforms. A recent tendency among companies to move partner programmes from networks to cloud-based platforms has given additional weight to this debate. This shift is motivated by several factors: affiliate management, platform transparency and flexibility in business scaling amongst others, with the latter being largely dependent on the technological solutions businesses use.
SaaS is fast becoming a practical choice for affiliate businesses to access and adopt new technologies and products. Software as an industry has undergone a massive transition by moving to a SaaS-based model with networks and advertisers now being able to afford these technologies by paying on a subscription model and continuing to renew month-on-month at a tailored price depending upon their usage.
One of the main reasons for SaaS’ increase in popularity can be attributed to the agility and versatility it comes with. It is now possible for companies to run SaaS software solutions without the need to install it on their own computer systems and data centres. This means multiple people in an organisation can access the software from anywhere in the world, ensuring widespread connectivity while using an enterprise-level secure connection. This also reduces significant costs in developing, maintaining and even hiring people in IT roles to manage everything.
Quick look at why companies enjoy SaaS platforms
Lots of enterprises have moved on to SaaS-based apps – 73% of companies have already decided to move all their apps to SaaS-based models. As per Gartner’s research, the global public cloud service market is projected to grow to more than $300 billion in 2021, up from $257 billion in 2020.
Taking SAAS solution to an enterprise customer
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You can’t start with the technology then try to figure out where to sell it,” – This quote from Steve Jobs holds the truth.
Over the years, SaaS sales have undergone a series of changes, having evolved from sales to product-driven approach:
- Sales-Led Approach: This was always led by outbound sales, where a sales representative used to pitch a product to the consumer, educate them on all the features, offer them a trial and convert them once they are ready.
- Marketing-Led Approach: The use of marketing campaigns to bring in customers. Targeted ads based on their search resulted in more people signing up for trials on the platform, but again the quality/intentions were sometimes questionable.
- Product-Led Approach: The new frontier of SaaS sales, where a customer researches and reads about the product and explores it by themselves. The user here knows exactly what features they want and educates themselves about the various tools available for them to use.
Despite the sales approach remaining the preferred practice for some SaaS providers, many others have moved to a product driven approach, especially when it comes to entering the enterprise-level market. Let’s take a closer look at what they look at before taking up a SaaS product subscription:
Solving the big customer equation
Big customers look at a SaaS solution as their own arm extension, and due to this they require a lot of customisations and flexibility while choosing a partner. They want a SaaS partner who not only understands their business and language, but who’s also able to support their business model with stable and robust technology.
What does an enterprise customer look for when selecting a SaaS platform?
- Product customisations and unique feature requests: As a platform owner or technology creator, we might be fully satisfied with the product we have in hand. But remember, no product is perfect and with the ever-changing landscape, the technology has to adapt to the constant changes which control the market dynamics. Big customers love their product tailored to suit their business and functions, and the effectiveness of deploying these features as per the timelines improves the chance of stickiness and credibility.
- Accessibility to service: Big customers love personal attention and care. After all, they are paying a premium to get the best of services and support. Dedicated account manager along with 24×7 support via email, live chat or phone makes a huge difference in creating trust among the clients. The clients’ belief that the partner is available at any point of crisis is a big win.
- Automation & reducing workload: Every big customer likes to reduce the manual workload and automate the entire process. This is to bring about efficiencies as they scale, and also to reduce humane prone errors as much as possible. Automating the everyday mundane tasks and driving auto generated reports for the key stakeholders is a must
- Special treatment: Before they sign up, enterprise customers always do a series of due diligence and cross-checking of the SaaS partner’s performance. Hence the relationship established here is for a pretty long period. Big customers expect their SaaS providers to reciprocate with the same intensity and work very closely as a trusted partner.
- Frequent customer updates: Enterprise customers needs to be informed regularly on the company updates and feature roadmaps, it is crucial as their as their business relies completely on your solution, keeping them up to date ensures transparency and also allowing them to test new features first amongst customers is key to long term partnerships
- Customer Success: Proactively anticipating customer challenges and providing immediate solutions and answers to those problems prior to them raising sets the premise for a superior customer success model. Customers should be able to get most of the benefits from the product, and that should remain the core objective.
Having big and high-paying customers are signs of success to any company. They become the backbone of driving revenues and building sizable credibility, increasing your brand value in the market. Furthermore, enterprise clients are very consistent and stable, and the vagaries of the economy does not affect them that much. They are also ready to commit to long term agreements, since they do spend a lot of time and resources on evaluating, shortlisting and finalising a SaaS provider. However, it is important to build a product ready for large clients. Your SaaS product should be ready for scalability, assuring the platform robustness, ability to adapt and change as per technology landscape by constantly re-inventing features and becoming the industry benchmarks, all while bearing in mind that selling SaaS to an enterprise is always worth walking that extra mile.