Enterprise Sales For SAAS Startups

More by

Pitch your Startup, App or Hardware or post a Startup Event or Startup Job

Had a discussion with an freshly hatched enterprise startup the other day, a self acknowledged newbie we got to discussing the process of selling into the enterprise.

Another thing I am grateful to Hewlett-Packard for is their insistence all sales reps undertake training with Strategic Sales Training with Miller Heiman who are arguably the long established experts in the methods of selling into the Enterprise.

Might be a bit old school for the many new age growth hacked, A/B split tested, recurring billing payment gateway SAAS companies but I promise you if you are selling a product used by enterprises, no amount of growth hacking is going to help you unless you understand these concepts.

You may work out a way to bypass some of the players as Atlassian has, but to do this you need to understand the basic concepts.

So here is an outline of the key issues. If Enterprise is your thing go buy Miller Heimans books or do one of their courses.


You can buy their updated books on Amazon here.

When you are selling into the enterprise it’s important to select your prospects carefully, the reality is to do this properly you can only have a handful of active sales prospects at once.

It’s important to understand that an enterprise sale is actually 3-10 separate sales processes, they just happen to be in the one company and affect different parts of the decision making process.

The biggest single objective of the key influencers in the prospect company is to keep their very highly paid jobs and maintain their power in the organisation. Anything that poses a threat to this has some work to do.

I can’t do justice to the entire process here, for that you will need to do one of their courses but here is a summary of the key points and issues of the Enterprise Sales process.

Essentially a sales rep needs to complete a separate Blue Sheet for a sales opportunity in a prospect or customer. The bluesheet (pictured above) helps you quantify the account and requires you to;

  • Start with a single quantifiable objective for that account (separate objectives=separate bluesheets)
  • Makes you decide whether this is a good customer for you
  • Recognize your position against the competitors in the account.
  • Recognise the prospect organisation has multiple people or “Influencers” with multiple agendas and objectives, few of which will be the same and may not be entirely rational from the outside looking in.
  • In order to secure a sale you may need to sell across and up and down the organisation to convince multiple Influencers.
  • An example. You wish to sell a new Enterprise ERP software to an enterprise.
  • You are going to have to convince the CEO, possibly the board, CTO, CFO and COO, Director of IT and probably a few managers in each function.
  • This is a complex sale, it could take years.
  • In order to map out the influencers you have know which influencers are responsible for what part of the decision making process.
  • The guy who signs the cheque usually isn’t the only one who makes the decision.
  • The key types of Influencers are Economic (they sign the cheque), Technical (they make decisions based on the specifications of the products) and User (who actually use the product or manage the team who uses the product)
  • There is usually only one Economic Influencer
  • There can be many different Technical and User Influencers (consider our ERP example, could be a Technical influencer regarding accounting, cloud computing, IT Support).
  • You may need to address the sales process with each of them
  • The blue sheet forces you to review and rate each of these and your position with them
  • It forces you to work out what a Win looks like for each person who is an influencer
  • This allows you to formulate a plan to address any weaknesses or capitalise on any strengths in those relationships
  • Finally this leads to an action plan specifically to address your position in the organisation and the sales process.

All of this explains why you need to take them on Rugby and Soccer World Cup trips and get them into the box at the Swans for at least 12 months before you close a deal.

You may think that in this day and age of online sign ups you don’t have to do this anymore.

But unless your product can be purchased on a department credit card without any approvals from the division head or the product is insignificant in the company then you will absolutely need to work through this process or work out a sales method and pricing strategy where a single manager can make a decision without the approvals.

Thanks to Miller Heiman for the fantastic training some 20 years ago (it’s stuck with me) and for the use of your Blue Sheet

Pitch your Startup, App or Hardware or post a Startup Event or Startup Job

This book will change your life



Learn about OKRs - Objectives & Key Results, the management system that Google & Intel use to achieve massive growth


You can use OKRs to massively accelerate your startup and personal life.


Written by John Doerr the legendary Venture Capitalist who invested $12m into Google which became $3 billion a few years later.


He also invested in Amazon, Intuit, Zynga, Compaq, Netscape, Macromedia, Symantec, Sun & dozens of other companies.


Subscribe to our irregular email & get a 2-month Amazon Audible trial with 2 free books


PS Free book offer only for new Audible trials