Enterprise sales reps typically have taken a top-down approach, talking to C-level executives since they’re the gatekeepers of the budget. But in the last decade, we’ve seen a shift to a bottom-up model that puts employees first and empowers them to encourage company-wide adoption of a tool. Instead of targeting VP-level or C-suite executives, salespeople are realizing the importance of understanding the end user and creating a strong relationship with individual employees.
Increasingly, employees are driving the adoption and purchase of technology because they love the product and convince their colleagues of the software’s value. Individual employees have encouraged their companies to use tools like Slack and Salesforce company-wide. Starting at the bottom rather than the top is a great user acquisition approach for SaaS companies. Here are three ways salespeople should connect with the end user to ultimately secure exec buy-in:
Understand Specific Pain Points and Use Cases
When you talk to employees who would use your product on a daily basis, you’ll have a better understanding of employees’ pain points and how your solution fits into or outperforms their current solutions. With this insight, you can take a product-led approach to sales by highlighting features that address their needs and speaking to how similar companies have reaped benefits using your product.
Getting a trial signup with an individual employee is easier than with C-suite executives because they’re looking for ways to work more efficiently and strategically. Plus they’re more likely to regularly use your product and evaluate whether it solves their pain points. As the end user evaluates your product, pay close attention to their feedback since that insight will help you sell to the VP or C-level exec further down the road.
Empower the End User to be Your Champion
During the trial period, your goal is to turn the end user into an internal champion at the company — someone who will advocate for your product and encourage his colleagues and senior leadership that they can’t operate as efficiently or strategically without your product. While the prospect is evaluating your product, make sure to establish strong rapport and provide the support they need. The better their trial experience, the more likely they’ll be to use your product regularly and convince colleagues why it’s core to their daily activities.
The champion is key to expanding product adoption from one loyal advocate to many employees at the company. Some B2B companies like Yammer and Zendesk even structure their business models around employee adoption spreading within the company. Individual employees can sign up for a trial and buy it on their own, and as more people at the company sign up, the number of users and associated sales increase.
When more employees adopt the product and want access to additional enterprise features, VPs and the C-suite will have greater incentive to upgrade from the trial or freemium version. Word-of-mouth marketing and advocacy starts with establishing a strong relationship with your internal champion and providing them strong customer support.
Get Immediate Feedback and Improve the Product
Your relationship with the end user should be a win-win for you and the customer. You provide them with support and they share product feedback with you. Create an open feedback loop and regularly check in with employees to hear what they love and what can be improved. Be sure to share this insight with the product and customer success teams.
Feedback straight from the end user will help you expand product features and improve any current features. While your short-term goal is to keep current customers satisfied, other prospects likely have the same pain points and would benefit from the improved and additional features.
With a bottom-up sales model, you’ll reduce the length of the sales cycle and have more one-on-one interactions with individual employees to secure their support and establish good rapport. To effectively implement a bottom-up approach, you need to find the right employee to turn into your internal champion. When an employee becomes a strong advocate, you’ll see the company’s use of the tool increase and perhaps an increase in subscriptions.
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Also published on Medium.