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How to Sell SaaS - 3 Important Keys


I know I’ve been over this before, and I know that some of my readers don’t like even partial repetition, but that’s the thing with topics like SaaS. Things change very quickly in such a novel, burgeoning new field of computing and industry. As a result, if I don’t return to past topics now and again, you’ll be going off of old data. While I am sure I’m not your only source of information, as a journalist, it’s my responsibility to point out any new information that comes along. As a result of this, I need to talk once more about how to sell SaaS.

What provoked me to talk about this now, and not after the next big wave of conferences and conventions is that I noticed something interesting the other day, thanks to an artist friend with whom I frequently correspond. A big company is going SaaS, and while I’d normally laud it, their strategy is completely wrong. So, I will be citing three things they’re doing wrong, and show, via negation, how to sell SaaS the right way. I do hope this company is paying attention to we SaaS specialists when we tell them what a mistake they are making.

When I first started my writing career, I was afraid to call companies out by name in such a public forum, so I’d him and haw about not saying their name. But, that was then. I’m calling Adobe, of Flash and Photoshop fame, out on a rather dumb move here. Their next set of software is SaaS only, which for their line of work is a bad idea, and their model is going to doom them. So, let’s look at how, and learn from their mistakes.

#1 – Using Gradual Conversion

If you’re an established brand with established products, and you’re converting to SaaS, then you need a gradual conversion. Duality is an important phase, because people who are accustomed to your traditional model will not go willingly over to something they don’t entirely understand.

For the moment, customer land isn’t really filled with people who have an informed and optimistic view of SaaS. This “online only” software model flies well with businesses, and works ok for customers if a service is introduced as such. But, conversion requires the SaaS to be optional. And, as much of an SaaS advocate as I am, this phase of duality needs to be indefinite for now.

Adobe is not following this logic, converting directly to SaaS with no duality, and man is the art community enraged.

#2 – Price Models that Make Sense

One of the big sells of SaaS is that it is supposed to be more fiscally responsible than traditional software, primarily in the business world. Maintaining a low-cost subscription for forever-updated services that require no physical packaging or license purchases actually costs less than maintaining traditional distributions active in a large organization.

At the same time, it’s supposed to make a service more uniquely affordable to a small organization or individual as well.

Adobe is going to charge, at minimum, $50 USD per month for any of their services. A year of service at $50 USD would be $600 USD, a price which a five-year-lifespan version of many of their products does not cost. Their conversion to SaaS is actually going to drive their prices madly higher for all whom use them, making the SaaS model look like a financial enemy, rather than a revolutionary concept.

Let’s remember that this model is to reduce prices, not jack them up!

#3 – Know Your Demographic

Yeah, I’ve said this a lot, and not just in articles on how to sell SaaS. Demographics are everything. In this case, Adobe’s mistake is that their demographic, media producers and various types of artists, do not want to be reliant on SaaS entirely. They definitely have a marketable niche for it, that being redundancy over mobile and tablet when they’re on the go. However, such hefty software with a large visual payload, they do not want to be bogged down by TCP/IP latency with it, and they don’t want to be stuck relying on their internet working in order to use it.

Adobe is forcing them out of their comfort zone, and this is another in a long string of errors on their part that will alienate their demographic.

If you’re marketing SaaS, then know how your demographic thinks, before you plan your model. You may discover that you’re going against the grain of what your target user base expects from you.

So, Adobe has shown us what not to do, regarding how to sell SaaS. Let us learn from this and pray that they do as well, before their foolhardiness brings an end to the best media software we have.


Published at DZone with permission of Omri Erel, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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