How to buy SaaS for less: Leave software negotiation to the experts
Is it just me or does the task of finding and buying software for your team feel like searching for a new home office chair after COVID-19 hit?
You start by researching what’s out there, immediately feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending options, vague and wide-ranging pricing, and confusing details around the level of comfort. A few months later you’re back on the market looking to exchange the one you bought for a better, more ergonomic option that your back won’t hate you for.
I’m a marketer and my experience negotiating software (let alone a desk chair) is slim to none.
Once I know I need a new tool, my main priority is getting it in the door as soon as possible.
The research begins and I find a few solid options. I’m demo’ing, maybe even trialing, and asking for pricing options and contracts to send to whoever will listen. First, my manager tells me to email the finance team. Sometimes I’m told to get security involved, but that might not happen until I already have a PO approved. There’s no one magic workflow we’re told to follow so instead, I’m feverishly slacking and emailing whoever I think needs to know. After all, I wanted to start using the tool yesterday.
Several rounds of this and I’ve learned that buying software rarely brings immediate gratification. Not only is a software purchase not immediate, it takes so much time to negotiate the best price, undergo security reviews, and follow compliant processes.
If I could go back in time and reclaim hours wasted running back and forth between people speaking in jargon I have to Google ten times just so I sound like I know what I’m talking about, I would in a heartbeat.
Three reasons a marketing manager like me wishes they had someone else to handle SaaS negotiation
1. I buy software last minute and lose leverage as a result
Marketers anywhere, but especially startup marketers, aren’t going to have time to plan ahead for new software tools. The moment I realize my team is in need of a new product, we need it instantly. But buying last minute always means a higher price tag and sometimes even poor compliance (sorry, security!).
Since I need the tool instantly, I don’t have the luxury of leverage in the negotiation. By getting out of the way and letting negotiating experts take control, I’m creating an environment where no one fails: the deal closes faster, I start using the tool immediately, the company avoids unresolved security checks, and my CFO saves money.
2. I buy infrequently and don’t understand the buying process
When I buy software, which isn’t often, there’s usually a very specific reason as to why. My team needs a better way to track larger marketing initiatives (project management software), we want more info on the leads we’re bringing in (data enrichment), we’re looking for the best way to whiteboard virtually (team collaboration).
Because I know exactly what I’m looking for, I expect the process to be swift: find a tool that fits my team’s needs, talk to a sales rep, receive and sign a contract, and voila – we’re up and running.
In between purchases though, I tend to forget any of the purchasing best practices I may have learned from the last time. Plus, each software supplier has a different style of pricing and usability that I have to learn every time I want to buy.
Working with someone who deals with the ins and outs of deal negotiation every day, from price to number of users to monthly vs. annual contracts and so on, would save hours of time starting from scratch when I miss a step in the buying process, playing phone tag between my team and the supplier, and translating contract terms.
Instead of navigating this unclear buying process every time, I can hand the work off to people who know this business better than anyone. I can request the software I want and leave the price negotiation up to them, getting up and running 5x faster.
3. I don’t care about pricing as much as closing the deal, leaving me with a high price tag
Don’t tell my CFO I said this.
I prioritize speed over spend. If I know a new piece of software can help improve marketing performance, my focus is spent on closing the deal as quickly as possible. In my mind, negotiation is like a long game of Monopoly and I don’t have time to play all the way through.
How do you negotiate for new software? That’s a loaded question and something I never formally learned. I always found the process intimidating, not to mention time-consuming, and so I always tried to take the easy way out. Close the deal without worrying about the numbers.
But it doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating. It shouldn’t be my responsibility in the first place. That’s where people dedicated to getting me the tool as fast as possible while keeping my finance team happy come into play. This way I have time to spend on more valuable business driving objectives than negotiating software.
Take me out of the price negotiation driver’s seat
And let the experts in. Looking back, I would’ve been happier and more productive had I not been in the driver’s seat trying to negotiate software contract terms way over my head.
There are experts, people who live and breathe SaaS spend using insights from thousands of transactions every year, helping teams and even marketers like me find their way through a simple, fair, and instant software buying experience.
Would you say no to that? See how Vendr can take the weight of price negotiation out of your hands.