Overcoming an Outdated B2B Buying Process

By Sandeep Jain, Founder and CEO, MonetizeNow
An old cash register on top of a pale yellow table.

In the current macroeconomic environment, CEOs and CROs at SaaS organizations are under more pressure than ever to unlock revenue. New capital is increasingly hard to come by, and customers – reacting to an environment of fear, uncertainty, and doubt – are looking to cut costs and increase flexibility.

Amid this perfect storm, the SaaS industry is weighed down by the anchor of an outdated B2B buying process. How can a nimble and fast-evolving industry be expected to weather the storm when its lifeblood – revenue – is being restricted by RevOps tools that have seen little evolution over the past 30 years?

The Problem

The current B2B revenue operations (RevOps) tooling was built for the now-outdated B2B buying process of the 1990s.

Purchases were infrequent and often involved hardware components that weren’t self-serve – they needed much seller assistance: setup help, customization, and onboarding. These were high-dollar one-and-done deals, typically over six figures, and often took a long time to close. The companies making these sales often had fewer than a hundred customers, and sales were very manually processed. An account executive would evaluate the client’s needs and send the customer a quote for a multi-year contract. The parties would negotiate the terms. Once the customer agreed and received their product, one or more “fixed amount” invoices were sent. If the customer’s needs evolved, the process would have to start all over again.

The pace of business was slow, but that’s OK because so were the customers. As an industry, software was mired in hardware and not yet sophisticated enough to conceive of anything better.

The problem is that, three decades later, the industry has moved on. The cloud is dominant. Customer needs change from day to day, as do their expectations. Today, customers want to be able to adjust the number of users on their account on the fly, pay for usage instead of on a flat fee, and be able to upgrade services without needing to go through the sales team. Customers are practically begging for sales automation that SaaS companies don’t know how to provide.

This is the expectation established by popular B2C products. Services like Hulu and Netflix allow users unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Unlike the traditional players in their industry – for example, cable companies – streaming services allow consumers to self-serve and change their plans at will. B2B buyers have taken note, and so should B2B vendors. Customers do not leave their conditioned expectation of convenience at the door when they go to work.

Land and Expand

SaaS monetization best practices call for a “land and expand” strategy, in which companies first sell through a narrow solution, or sell only to a small subset of users in an enterprise organization. This reduces resistance to the initial sale and makes it easier to get a foot in the door. Then, once the beachhead is established, the customer organization is upsold, cross-sold, and expanded as far as possible.

For this approach to work well, expansion opportunities must be identified, nurtured, and closed quickly and frequently. Time lost due to an unresponsive salesperson or long quote process is time during which the customer can change their mind, find another solution, or lose focus. Ideally, the entire upsell process could be initiated and completed independently and automatically by the customer, with sales staff getting involved only in edge cases or situations where a transaction is stuck.

A New SaaS RevOps Architecture

It is clear that the days of low-volume, high-dollar deals are mostly behind us. Today, the biggest and most valuable B2B companies are being built on a high-volume, low-dollar model using the land-and-expand approach. This demands a new revenue operations architecture – one built to take advantage of the inherent strengths of the SaaS model. Instead of multiple disparate tools, there needs to be a single system of truth for GTM across any and all sales channels – self-serve, sales-led, partner-led, and even marketplaces. The system should be closely integrated with the product, allowing customers to pay for only the features they need and rapidly adopt new ones as needs change or new offerings are released. It should allow for companies to reconfigure in order to rapidly monetize new developments and optimize for maximum profitability and user retention. In short, it should be built for the speed of the modern startup. Such a solution could be the next $10 billion enterprise IT opportunity.

The Revolution

The modernization of the RevOps stack is not a matter of if, but when. The fundamentals of the SaaS business are so far removed from the monetization platforms available to them that a change is inevitable. Many companies have even tried to build the RevOps stack themselves – including one that spent $300 million on a CPQ (configure, price, quote) transformation project that didn’t achieve the desired result. Another public company has a team of more than 250 people working to build such a system. These approaches are clearly not scalable but highlight a genuine problem that enterprises face today: how to remove friction in the sales process and grow revenue fast.

Well, there is hope now. A modernized RevOps architecture is already available on the market, and early movers are adopting it. Companies that manage this transition ahead of their competitors will be rewarded handsomely. It is a tremendous value-add to free customers of a cumbersome process for quoting, contract amendment, and billing. Reducing the time in the sales cycle offers value to customers more quickly, reduces lost opportunities, and allows companies to monetize innovation nearly instantaneously. Because it automates so much of a sales team’s “busy work” (for example, generating quotes and making contract amendments), it also frees them to focus on closing blue-chip sales opportunities.

Finally Automated

Marc Andreessen coined a truism among tech types that “software is eating the world.” His prediction – that software was a force multiplier that would disrupt the entire economy – seems to have been true nearly everywhere…except for B2B SaaS RevOps. This final enclave of manual and byzantine bureaucracy has subsisted, right under tech disruptors’ noses, for decades. That is finally changing. By automating the quote-to-cash process, SaaS companies can revolutionize the way they monetize, increase profits, and potentially even find prosperity in the economic turbulence unfolding around us.

Sandeep Jain is a SaaS monetization expert and the founder and CEO of MonetizeNow. The company helps businesses with their quote-to-cash processes and offers the first-of-its-kind zero-touch sales system.