Home page of Milan Vrekic

Few tips on doing sales demos

Your demo should boil down to  one of the following four propositions:

Could not be done before!

At the end of sales presentation do not forget to ask something to effect “is there anything I should be asking that I did not ask?”
The answer will usually clearly define if you have hit the pain point with them or not.

For each sales demo clearly define:

Meeting Location

Meeting date

Start and end times (so people know how much time to budget, often sales demos are canceled as prospective clients think they would take too long)

Meeting objective (Is your target to get a pilot deployment, purchase Order…)

Ask your internal champion to provide you with real problems organization has, prior to meeting. You should then use those problems to illustrate a solution in your demo.

If you will be giving promo material or printouts – do it at the end of the demo, so they don’t jump ahead of you and make assumptions.

As a rule of thumb, you will be interrupted during the demo with questions.

Great questions you should answer right away, good questions you should answer later and stupid questions you should still answer (you don’t want to insult a potential client) but answer them at the end. You can say something like “That is a valid point, I will talk more about that at the end of the demo”

How do you know a great question you ask?  Great question is a question that leads into next slide or into the next few slides.

If you are demoing at a trade show, develop several “60 second” demos that you can present to prospects based on their specific needs.

Good luck demoing!

Few notes on the Freemium business model

Posted on October 7, 2013

Freemium is sexy and easy. When I say sexy, I mean that most of the recent BIG funding came for the companies doing freemium (look at Hootsuite for example) and when I say easy I mean that it is way to easy for founders not to think too much about their pricing and cost structure and just declare that they will do freemium instead.

There are some clear Pros for the Freemium: Press loves it, it is easy to get early adopters, you get to leverage passive advertising, and you build brand power A LOT faster than in the licensing model. However, that comes at a cost. That cost is a smaller paying user base, higher support costs (all those free users will all the time on their hands will be the major drag on support), free ones rarely convert (3% is considered a better rate in the industry) and you can hurt your positioning.

Before you commit to freemium, you should think and answer the following questions:

How can you monetize “free” users if they never convert into paying customers?

Can “free” users somehow benefit your paying customers? (example of this is linkedIn, paid profiles would be useless without all those millions of free accounts to look at)

Can you gain actionable market intelligence from “free” users?

Can you benefit from a “nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd” notion of a large user base? (this often is an asset if the play from the get go is an acquisition by a 3rd party and not revenue)

What is an average cost of a “free” user on an annual basis? You noticed by this point that I never wrote free. just “free” as only thing that is free is cheese in the mousetrap.

You should play with the model a bit and see what works the best. For example, you could give everyone 30 days of all-access on all features, then once they get used to the good stuff, kick them down to the lower plan and sell them on the value add features on a per-feature basis. This would dis-incentivise (did I spell that correctly?) people to signup for the free plan in the first place.

In B2B play, it is more about the time required to setup and learn the product, than money the customer would save with freemium. Free in B2B is often perceived as having zero value. A startup offering a “free” version of the product that their business is build on would appear to be less stable than the one offering the same product for a fee (the “how do they make money? will they be around next year?” question).

There is a simple formula that you can use to figure out potential customers from a freemium model: Addressable market x Reach % x Signup % x 3%

Example case would be 4200 employees in courseware industry in Canada x 30% that we can reach x 25% of them who sign up x 3% that convert to paying (3% is the industry standard in B2B SaaS.)

Dropbox succeeded in freemium as they literally have every business out there as their potential client. Those are big numbers…

Increasing price, would allow you to get more revenue with less active clients, but larger average sales price is also more risk for client. More risk for the client results in more clients wanting personal relationship with the vendor and that costs money.

With TitanFile our risk of losing serious confidential data stored on our servers increased sales complexity, and so did increasing the cost (more people then had to approve the purchase).

Essentials of SaaS Marketing

Posted on October 6, 2013

These are some things I have learned over the last few years marketing our SaaS product, working with SaaS companies at Volta and hanging out with the “cool marketing kids” around Halifax (mostly former Radian6 crowd):

In a SaaS product environment, customers are always looking for signs whether they can trust their vendor. Make this an important part of your corporate identity. When you are seeking for those first few early adopters, you must understand that those people are investing in your company as much as in your product. You should allocate resources to build a corporate identity that projects trust. Some practical examples are public uptime status pages (like https://status.github.com) or photos, names and emails of team members on the about us page etc.

You should also have a section that wins over  IT professionals and managers with hard data. If you go to the Salesforce pricing page, you will see how they do a great job there by providing a “Download the full edition comparison chart” document.

Your existing customers will come up for renewal once their subscription expires. Do not try to bill them without letting them know that you will renew their subscription (no brainer) but also do not make a mistake of assuming that all of them will just happily renew their subscription so that you can focus on the new client acquisition. Always treat clients that are on their last leg of subscription as prospective clients. This means, engage them, remind them of the value they are receiving and ensure their renewal goes flawlessly.

Sales and marketing for client acquisition will be your largest expense in a “true” SaaS startup. Monitor these carefully on a daily basis.

There is a common pattern among founding teams. Teams that are strong on business side do better in B2B play while teams that are strong technically do better on the B2C side. Technical teams too easily fall in the trap of promoting features. Business savvy founders know better so they promote experiences.

Selling on price never ideal but if you must sell on lower price understand that customers value reliability, ease of use and flexibility as much as they do lower cost.

Look for distribution partners only when you are already making money. I have made this mistake way too many times.

Volta Demolition

Community is the framework

Posted on April 30, 2013

My Friends,

Over the next short while I will be transitioning from my role at TitanFile to a position of an Executive Director at Volta, with a goal of creating a place where entrepreneurship is celebrated and taking over the world is expected.

I was always passionate about startup community and after all the support TitanFile has received, I am now given a chance to give back.

Last 3 years have truly been a great journey and the biggest reward I received was to work alongside, and learn from, some of the most amazing people I have met in my life.

At TitanFile, I have seen the company attract top-tier talent, go on to receive some of the most prestigious innovation awards in North America and win over amazing roster of clients. Best part is that TitanFile is just getting started.

I will remain close to the company and I am really excited about all great things we have planned for Volta!


Sell for 3 months ahead

Posted on April 28, 2013

When selling enterprise software, your solution needs to not only solve a problem, but still make sense after 3 months of “imaginary use”.

No one says “looks good for now! I am sure you will add rest of the features we need on time” no, they fast forward 3 months in their heads and make a decision.

This is why a lot of MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) fail. In a sense, they are not “true” MVP’s.

A “true” MVP has a limited set of features, but the features it has are thought trough and function well in a scope of a solution.

Here is an example: at TitanFile we have a files panel that lists all the files belonging to the associated user. It was rolled out without an in-panel search capability with a premise that “by the time users need it, we will have it”. Time went on and as we got more users, different things took priority. Needless to say, in-panel search was not there when users needed it.

Feature creep is real and hides behind every “wouldn’t it be cool if…” So if you want to build enterprise software, start by building less – but better.

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