April 18, 2019

How to contract Saas with enterprise?


Hi guys we are a small Saas with many enterprise clients and we are experiencing tremendous delays in our contracting process because this slow Giants are not used to deal with Saas. Their contracting terms are outdated (intellectual properties just to mention once) but the corporate nature makes it hard to get anything changed or accepted within a reasonable time.
Is anybody experiencing the sames issues and delays ? How are you dealing with that?


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    Working with enterprise can be exciting but the sad reality is that most of the times – this is what it is. Nevertheless, here are some tactics we deploy when contracting enterprises.

    1. Have a champion up high
      Usually your commercial contact would be your champion, if they are also the decision-maker. If not, try to be introduced to the boss's boss's boss. It's essential to have someone who not only can vouch for you, but also is willing to spend political credit when i.e. pushing legal to act faster. This is 100% relationship based selling.

    2. Push for exceptions or pilots
      The biggest driver for legal/contracting is risk-management. Corps like to de-risk everything. If you want to get to results fasters (which undoubtedly is what your champion also wants) you could aim for work-arounds of the legal process.
      One way to do this is setting up a pilot – a discounted, set-period, usage/trial of your software. When it totals around 20-30 k they might be able to accept your pilot and start working with your software already. In parallel you can then work on the full contract and procurement, but at least you keep momentum (and also important: you are in their payment system already). Other de-risking strategies: Limited exposure of clients data (i.e. small amount of projects, users), non-public usage, limited Personal Information (i.e. create username/ww accounts without email-addresses and names). You will be surprised to learn that there exists formal processes and forms that have management 'accept minimized risk' and sign-of an exception usage of your software.

    3. Facilitate as much as you can
      We have documented all our answers to legal teams and captured them in neatly designed documents. I.e. they ask about security, software used, company stability, references, privacy compliance, subcontractors, development lifecycle. We've literally created nice PDF documents containing all those answers. This allows their legal/buying team to find many answers to questions themselves, instead of their typical behavior: Saving up questions for that one meeting in 3 weeks time. Having a good open channel also helps.

    In short:

    • Make sure someone is pushing internally for you
    • Have de-risked versions of your product which can start in parallel to contracting, so you can keep momenten
    • Document any answer you ever give to enterprises and bundle them in easy to share guides.

    Good luck!

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      We do have a trial period and is working out quite well... how do you get into paperwork discussion when the buying decision is not made yet?

      Thanks for taking the time to answer. It gaves us a lot of food for thought

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    Legal departments take into consideration not only the text in front of them, but also who they are signing with. Large vendors have contracts that have been “matured” with time and experience, and large customers know that because other large companies agreed to those terms before.

    When you add the logo of a big client of yours to your website, you are telling to the market that not only your service is good, but that doing business with you, from a legal perspective, is also good.

    Aside from that, find a SaaS specialized lawyer who could make your a contract with the terms normally accepted by large companies. Do that when you have the mean for it, of course.

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      Thanks rodolpho for sharing your prospective. The first part is particularly interested and i was wondering how to bring that in practice. We usually deal with our commercial contact that hands over paperwork to their legal department. In this kind of situation how can i bring our credibility on the table ? We DO have other BIG clients (sometimes belonging to the same brand but in different countries) but they do not speak to each other.

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        The best thing you can do is to expose your big clients brands to your prospect's Legal department. If you normally send the contract via email, make sure you attach an extra file like company-name.pdf containing only 2 pages: page 1, all logos/brands of your most notorious well-known customers, page 2, who you are, what you do. Page 3? No, they don't have time for page 3.

        In case you hand them the contract on paper. You can get yourselves a nice hardcover contract folder with all the logos/brands on it and a catchy phrase like "Welcome to company-name! Here are some of the companies that trusted our services/products.

        At this point, the Legal analyst will know you guys passed the criteria of, let's say, Ford Motors' Legal department, and that makes a difference.

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          This is a very actionable suggestion! Thanks !

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    By being patient and persistent, and by making sure you preemptively clear any hurdles before they become the bottleneck.

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