Scrappy or scrapping: Are bigger SaaS companies producing better tech?

Apr 27, 2023

Have you ever been live-qualified by a company that wants to sell to you?

You get on a call with a company who's going to demo their SaaS product. You and your team know plenty about the tech, that's why you're interested in taking this call!

The SaaS salesperson asks you and your team a ton of questions that could have been done over email, all of which are geared towards them deciding whether you're a good fit for their product. 

Your team is wondering why you made them sit through this...

Instead of getting on a call with the salesperson who's ready to close, knows you're a perfect fit prospect, and simply needs to understand your expectations, you're being evaluated yourself.

This story, which Michelle Kwan, Co-founder and CEO of eWebinar, shared on the Selling SaaS podcast, only seems to happen at big companies.

Everything I just described is the furthest from a PLG strategy possible and every founder reading this knows it. Small startups won't survive a day if they operate like this.

What makes small SaaS and bootstrapped startups special?

Maybe I'm biased, but the technology that comes out of a bootstrapped mindset has a different feel to it.

At a startup without an enormous fund to fall back on, there is more need for the customer and therefore the technology is more tailored to the users. Those companies won't survive simply because their legacy customers are locked in, in the way large brands do. They have to survive by listening to customers.

Michelle added: "Companies get to a stage where they're too big to fail, and they start letting go." They stop researching for their calls, they let relationships go by the wayside which means they don't know their users as well.

Sad, right? And also bad business.

How can large companies keep the scrappy startup vibe without scrapping?

Here to know how to sell SaaS B2B without losing your spirit? First of all, your prep needs be just as in-depth as you'd do if you were at risk of the next call being your last with the customer.

1. Research like it's your last call.

Carry out a sensible exchange of information via email with clients, only the things you can't find on public forums (i.e. don't waste their time) before you get them on a call.

2. Take onboard all feedback. And follow up.

With some companies, Melissa says, "there are so many layers between me, the customer, and the CTO or VP of Product. While I could share on forums, does that feedback really go anywhere?"

If someone gives feedback on our companies, mine or Michelle's, it makes a difference to our roadmap. We apply solutions and look further into what's happening. That's a PLG strategy. 

When every customer matters a lot, you pay attention.

What else can monster-buck brands can learn from little startups: 

If you're a big brand, here's what you can learn from smaller competitors. Disclaimer: These are my opinions so they do reflect the opinions of Selling SaaS

  • Stop trying to dictate the market ahead of time, you're not Steve Jobs.

  • Listen to actual needs, and solve those before turning to your pet projects.

  • Adding to the pet project idea, ever heard journalists say, "kill your darlings?" You need to do that with your roadmap too.

  • Follow up on bugs that are reported, which means updates as it advances and when it's solved too.

  • Value your non-tech-savvy users as much as those that "just get" you. Not all your users are the same as your perfect clients (buyers)

  • Drop the ego, you're not untouchable.

If you can hang onto a level of personality, even as a heavily-funded, VC-backed or legacy tech brand, you're going to stand out for more than just being inescapable. You'll stand out for having great tech.

 And on that bombshell (don't come for me HubSpot, SalesForce, AWS, I still love you) I'll let you tell me if you agree that often, smaller SaaS have the best products.

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