You’ve completed the procurement, done the technical implementation, and developed the marketing materials. So what’s next? How do you roll out a SaaS proposition to your sales channels, and avoid any pitfalls along the way?
The natural instinct of many telcos is to launch everything to the world in spectacular fashion: get the sales flooding, and demonstrate what an incredible investment it has been.
We see plenty of large brands try this approach – and fail. More often than not, they actually end up doing more harm than good.
For a start, SaaS is a new type of product that the sales channels are unfamiliar with. Even with the best of training programmes, they’re desperate to return to the norm – to products they’re comfortable and familiar with.
This is where the problems begin. Even though starting a sales dialogue with a customer on SaaS is not a giant leap to take, they still require some effort to build into the pattern of behaviour that is considered ‘business as usual’.
Applying strong enough pressure – and incentive – across large channels to get teams to make this change at the same time is challenging, particularly where there are competing priorities.
That means inevitably you end up with very few conversations with customers, poor performance, and excuses.
From this point onwards, you face an uphill struggle to change perceptions, address the challenges, keep the senior execs off your back, and reinvigorate everyone to make the change.
The answer? Start small, learn fast, scale.
First off, choose one or two applications to spotlight – not your whole app catalogue. Each app addresses different underlying needs, so any approach that seeks to market all of them together will lack focus.
Choose a small trial team and train this group intensively. Use them to test the training material you’ll use for others; analyse the questions they ask, how they responded – and get their feedback.
Make your sales staff in this group feel special. Place responsibility on the team leader – through channel leadership – for the success of the team.
Support them while they give it a go. Sit with the sales advisors while they do the first few pitches – listen in, brainstorm how to solve challenges as a group, provide answers to product questions, and share best practices.
And wherever possible, enlist the support of your ISV partners – they’re the experts on their products after all.
After few days of intensive support, look at the stats:
How many opportunities to pitch have there been?
Is this the right team, the right time of year? Are opportunities being identified correctly?
How many pitches have been made?
Is it confidence? Are your sales team being asked questions they don’t know the answer to? Are they familiar enough with the questions to ask? Do they lack motivation? Despite the focus, are they getting pressure to do other things first?
Have there been any conversions?
Are customers coming up with genuine reasons why they’re not interested, that can’t be overcome? Or does the advisor lack the skills to properly communicate the benefits?
How does this compare to expectations?
If you’re off track, what are the obstacles that need to be overcome?
Once you’ve overcome these challenges and the small group is performing well, it’s important to reduce the intensive support to something light touch, to assess how well performance is maintained.
After six to eight weeks, once you feel confident your model is robust, you can begin roll out to other teams. Use the trial team leader and other key representatives from the original group as champions.
Following these steps will help you to manage the expectations of the team, as well as key stakeholders who are invested in the initiative. It’s crucial to remember that rolling out SaaS must be approached differently to selling handsets or data. SMEs need to be educated throughout their life-cycle, to ensure they realise where they’re getting value. Start small and the results will follow.
PulseGTM is a unique consultancy service brought to you by BCSG, designed for telcos taking cloud solutions to market. Our extensive experience working with telcos and rolling out cloud enablement solutions has given us a unique set of insights and benchmarks to help telcos drive success. Get in touch with us to book a free consultation session and find out how you’re performing compared to others in the market.