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“They Are Just Cars, The Sales Process Is The Same…..”

by David Brock on April 23rd, 2021

Imagine talking to a bunch of car sales people. Imagine making the claim, “Selling cars is the same, regardless of the vehicle, they are all cars.” In the audience you have people selling Honda’s, Toyota’s, Nissan’s, Renault’s, Kia’s, Ford’s, Chevrolet’s, Jeep’s. Porsche’s, Ferrari’s, Rolls Royce’s, BMW’s, Mercedes’, McLaren’s, and Bugatti’s.

It’s true, they are all cars, they get you from point A to point B (some faster than others). But that’s where the similarity ends. The target customers for these are very different, their reasons for buying are very different, the “problem” they are trying to solve is very different. The buying journey and the customer buying experience is very different. We wouldn’t want to apply the same selling process that we use for the lowest priced Honda to a customer considering a Bugatti.

It’s so obvious, that each of you should respond to the previous two paragraph’s with a bored, “Well duugghhhh Dave….. you call that insight?”

Sadly, when we shift this conversation to “SaaS selling,” whatever that means, we tend to design our customer engagement models, organizations, and metrics around a “one size fits all” approach.

I was drawn to write this when my good friend, Howard Dover, tried to suck me into one of these inane conversations about “SaaS selling.” This particular one argued, “there should be no difference in onboarding time and time to productivity for BDRs, regardless of what SaaS product you sell.” The argument suggested that other than differences in what the product does, the onboarding process and time to results wouldn’t vary significantly. As one might expect, there were dozens of people piling on with inspiring comments like, “I totally agree, Well said,….” and so forth. And, at the time I read the post, there were 48 likes….

It’s like saying, “The skills, process involved to sell the least expensive car manufactured in the world are exactly the same as selling a Bugatti.” This is driven by the flawed thinking of “SaaS selling.”

There is the blind fixation on the “SaaS selling model,” that makes everything look the same: BDR to AE to Demo to Quote to close,” repeat ad nauseum. Over the years, too many have discovered, through tragic mistakes, that SaaS is not SaaS is not SaaS. Effective engagement processes are not driven just because the offering is cloud based and priced on a subscription basis (SaaS).

Instead, the problems we solve with cloud based, subscription based products can be very different. Some are only solved on an enterprise level and require all the principles we’ve learned in challenger, solution, consultative, value based selling. These are complicated buying processes and we have to structure our engagement process to create the most value in helping them (even the use of BDRs in this process may be wrong, or your BDRs might be like my $500K BDRs). Some will be transactional and very simple/fast. The skills and resources we use for those are different. And some will be complex, involving very different engagement strategies.

But none of this is new or unique to the SaaS world. We’ve known about these for at least decades. We’ve seen these same scenarios across dozens of industries, 1000’s of products/services.

So it is silly to pose the question, “How long should it take to onboard and ramp a BDR to full productivity?” The only answer is, “It depends.” And the most important governing factor has less to do with how we want to sell (what makes us most efficient and effective), but on what does the customer buying process look like and what is the most impactful way we can create value with the customer.

A car is not just something that gets you from point A to point B. SaaS solutions are not just cloud based subscription based products.

It always comes back to the customer, what they are trying to achieve, and how we most effectively design our engagement strategies to help them. One size never fits all.

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4 Comments
  1. Sorry, but as an old English teacher, I seem to always proofread everything as I go. The car brand names in this sentence should not have apostrophes. The brands are simply plural, they don’t possess anything.

    “…selling Honda’s, Toyota’s, Nissan’s, Renault’s, Kia’s, Ford’s, Chevrolet’s, Jeep’s. Porsche’s, Ferrari’s, Rolls Royce’s, BMW’s, Mercedes’, McLaren’s, and Bugatti’s.”

  2. Hi David – i agree with the themes of your article , even though i do not make many sales as a leadership coach .i am not clear on what BDR means, and SaaS ? – please explain , thanks, Darrel in Johannesburg

    • Darrel Thanks for the inquiry, sorry for using Jargon. BDR stands for Business Development Rep, sometimes used interchangeably with SDR, Sales Development Rep. Typically, these are viewed as entry level positions, focused on finding opportunities that can be turned over to sales.

      SaaS stands for Software As A Service. It’s a confusing/misused term. Typically SaaS is an implementation—cloud based. It’s a pricing methodology, Subscription based. It’s a “sales approach,” which is primarily transactionally focused. The problem is many SaaS offerings (cloud/subscription) can only be offered on an enterprise basis, and the SaaS sales approach fails miserably. Hope this is helpful

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