Mike Martinez

Most Effective Ways to Buy SaaS Tools

We’ve all been put in that position where it makes more sense to outsource and leverage a tool that is available in the marketplace, as opposed to trying a DIY solution. The major challenge is usually identifying which tool to use since there are SO MANY choices.

You have seen the Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads remarketed to you in your feed with every website you’ve visited while doing your research, and next thing you know, you are in someone’s never-ending sales process! The marketing flows have been kicked off, you are now 3 days into an email sequence, and you’re getting the fluffy emails where the company tries their best to mask their sales team as a “customer support” specialist, but you are well aware of what is really going on.

Now you are stuck, frustrated, and annoyed when all you were trying to do was solve a problem that seemed solvable, and allocate some budget in someone’s solution. Instead, you decide to sign up with Do Nothing Inc, every sales reps worst nightmare and your problem persists. A month or two goes by, and you rinse and repeat the above. Maybe you’ll end up choosing a tool and maybe your problem will get solved, but this is not ideal.

If you want to learn how to see through the smoke and actually pick the best SaaS tool for your problem, keep reading.

As the VP of Sales of a SaaS company, I am constantly challenging my team to not be like everyone else. We have to be different, we have to set ourselves apart and focus on customer outcomes. The hardest part of doing this is that so many potential customers are stuck in the do-nothing trap, and just have no energy left to dedicate time to my team once they get here.

I’ll break this down into the following phases of the buying process so that you can leverage this information no matter where you are at in the process:

  • Identifying 3-5 companies that may be able to solve your problem
  • Down selecting down to two options
  • Negotiating with your top choice to get the best possible deal.

Identifying 3-5 tools

Pro-tip #1: Use INCOGNITO mode! If you don’t want to get thrown into everyone’s marketing flows, then don’t let them know you are researching their product. Pay attention to the Google Ads that show up at the top of your search, as the best companies will be dedicating dollars towards the right ad words that will attract customers to their site. Now start digging in. Do your research, read customer reviews and go through their customer use cases on their website to see if any of the use cases align with your challenge. If they don’t have use cases, move on. No need for you to be the guinea pig. If their message is confusing and you cannot easily tell what it is that their tool does, it might be a good idea to move on. Based on everything you’ve read up to this point, pick your list of 3-5, and let’s go to the next phase.

Down selecting to two options through OBSERVATION

You want to play the cycle, watch, and learn. I promise you, these SaaS companies will show you exactly who they are once you are engaged in their process. If they interact on your level, chances are that there are some synergies there and it may be a good fit. If you hate the process they run, chances are this is not going to go well for you or them.

Go ahead and turn off incognito mode and let the process happen. Remember, you are an educated buyer, so you know what is going to happen. Click through the website a bit and fill out a form or request a demo. If they only offer the option for you to do a form fill so they can get back to you when they have time, chances are they might already be resource-constrained and not a fast-growing SaaS company with a solid foundation in place. I’d also eliminate these from the process as you want to do business with companies that you can speak to right that moment, or in reality, when you need them. Then sit back and wait patiently.

Response time – I’m huge on customer service and responsiveness, so response time and how quickly they get back to me, is very important. This will be a good indicator as to how quickly they get back to you once you are a paying customer and really need support.

Do they have a pricing page? If they do, great! This means they’ve figured out what their product is worth and have created some standards around it. If they have no pricing available, this means they are going to get on the phone with you, try to quantify your problem, and then provide you a price quote based on what they think it might be worth to you. This is also not a great experience, as it will seem as if they are trying to maximize what they can get from you since they have not yet figured out their pricing model. Stay away if they do not publish pricing.

Do they care? This is where you want to watch and see how they interact with you. If all they do is talk about themselves, that is probably not a good thing.

  • Are they asking questions and seeking to understand your problem?
  • Does it seem like they genuinely care about helping you?
  • Are they listening, reiterating your challenges, and making sure they understand your needs correctly?

Pro Tip #2 – Help them help you. If you have gotten this far and have down-selected the vendor to this point, then it is in your best interest to answer their questions, and help them help you. At this point, you will start to naturally gravitate towards the vendor that seems like they can make it real for you the fastest and with the least amount of effort. If it seems like the effort on your end is going to be large regardless, then chances are you may have underestimated your challenge. This is fine too, just make sure to focus on the vendor that is putting the best effort forth at earning your business.

The easiest way to pick the winner here is to gauge the level of resources they are willing to assign to your problem to help you solve it. If they are bringing in their technical team to dive deep into the situation and really understand, chances are they are going to be able to deliver a better overall onboarding experience. If they gloss over and make you feel like your situation is cookie cutter and super easy, chances are they have a, “Let’s cross that bridge when we get there” attitude, which is never fun for the people on your team that are actually going to have to work with them to implement the tool.

Negotiating to get the best deal

Hopefully, by now the winner is clear and it was easy for you to make the decision. If you feel like both are adequate, you can ask them for proposals and use that as a way to gauge if either of them meets your business objectives.

Pro Tip #3 – Not all SaaS companies have figured out the perfect pricing model. If they have online pricing, great, use that as a way to start the negotiation, but chances are their pricing model may not make perfect sense for you. This is where you should clearly communicate how you would prefer to do business with them. Pricing should be relatively easy to work out because I can assure you that if they have made it this far, they believe they are going to win the deal and will be willing to work with you on an offer that makes sense for everyone.

Where buyers get into trouble here is by saying, “Just give me your best deal, and we will make a choice.” When you leave it this wide open, there is a high probability that their proposal will not directly meet your needs. It is always best to just give them an “offer” on how you would like to see the pricing laid out, and see if they will agree. This will also clearly show you the vendor’s willingness to earn your business.

Summary

Now that you’ve researched, selected, and negotiated a solution you move forward with implementation. Let the vendor put forth the majority of the effort which will keep your team happy and focused. The process of selecting a SaaS tool can seem overwhelming but if you stick to the recommendations you’ll be able to successfully solve a problem without having the headache of a DIY project.