More than ever, the C-suite and executive decision makers are turning to sales teams for input when vetting software vendors. After all, who better understands what kind of software is required to get the job done than sales professionals themselves? Because of this, salespeople today have more influence when it comes to which software their company ultimately chooses to purchase.
Meanwhile, leading software vendors have been adopting a bottom-up approach to their SaaS offerings when selling to sales teams. By providing sales professionals with easy-to-use products that show their value almost immediately, they can reach more users with far less resources and effort than a traditional top-down go-to-market model.
This double-sided dynamic – sales professionals gaining more influence over software purchasing decisions and vendors’ bottom-up strategy – is a radical change in how companies evaluate and buy software for the sales force, and how software vendors sell to them.
At a time when sales teams are even more remotely dispersed, the need to source and adopt best-in-class applications in a timely manner is imperative. Top-down SaaS can create delays with its long evaluation cycles and onboarding protocols, and may even result in poor end user adoption. Bottom-up SaaS lets users deploy and share applications with their peers in record time, where top-down can fall short.
MORE ON THE PERKS OF BOTTOM-UP
The key benefit of bottom-up SaaS is that users can try products without the downtime of cumbersome integrations and onboarding processes often associated with top-down.
It makes sense, after all. Think of your life outside of work: We’ve all become accustomed to the consumer model of trying things on our own. For example, we download software (apps) on our mobile phones all the time. Could you imagine if that entailed hours of onboarding, training, and integration? Why then, should the applications we use at work be any different?
There’s one major caveat: It’s only possible for users to quickly implement these products when they are designed exceptionally well. This requires a change in mindset for most vendors, who can no longer rely on drip email campaigns to onboard new users. For the bottom-up approach to work, the product needs to speak for itself entirely – requiring no (or very minimal) onboarding, support, or integration. The product is the pillar.
When designed correctly, sales professionals can begin reaping the benefits of a product – including enhanced productivity and the ability to close more deals – significantly faster than what is possible with a top-down approach. This also benefits vendors by letting them reallocate resources that would otherwise have been spent on marketing to focus solely on the star of the show: the product.
The bottom-up trend is here to stay, as breakthrough tools like Figma, Linear, and ClickUp set a new standard in which users expect applications to be well designed and demonstrate ROI rapidly. It’s a noisy market and, as consumer expectations continue to grow, there’s less and less room for second chances and subpar software.
IS TOP-DOWN DEAD?
Despite the many benefits of a bottom-up strategy, top-down still has its place at the table in specific situations. By nature, certain applications – like those requiring multiple security reviews – don’t lend themselves to bottom-up. A top-down approach can also be used in conjunction with bottom-up to provide vendors with better results than top-down alone.
Top-down SaaS requires a heftier investment in sales and marketing up front, which generally targets the C-suite and other executive decision makers. Shifting to a bottom-up approach lets vendors spend more time and budget on the product so they can create an ultra-valuable tool for a targeted audience. With less of a focus on demand generation, bottom-up provides a more organic strategy that markedly decreases time to success for users.
Although top-down isn’t dead, for vendors who are trying to quickly capture a segment of the market and empower those users with a highly useful tool, top-down is simply too slow and may miss the mark entirely.
The bottom-up approach brings sales and marketing back to the human. What does each person need to do their job? How can problems be solved at the individual level? For sales professionals, this means being able to try products quickly, forgo lengthy onboarding, and adopt high-value tools tailored to their specific needs.
As the co-founder and CEO of Scratchpad (previously PersistIQ), Pouyan Salehi has dedicated the past decade to improving and automating the sales process for B2B enterprise sales reps and revenue teams.