In the interest in trying to provide useful content to the group, I’ve been asked over the last month or two various times by friends and former colleagues about the benefits of selling Products versus Services (specifically by people looking to switch into Services). Here are some of my thoughts. I’d love to hear from other savages that switched from Product to Services as well! Hopefully this thread will help others make a more informed choice in the future!
For context, I’ve sold SaaS products for both small startups and for large public companies.
- In the startup space I found myself building and doing my own demos, had 1,000’s of customers to hunt into, higher commission rates and found myself doing minimal “Account Management” or Relationship Building.
- Working for the larger companies, I found myself working with less customers (typically more Install Base than New Companies) and spent more time trying to build trust and get someone to buy from me in a shorter period of time. My Account base was frequently changing so I had to start over often. Lower commission percentages but typically made more money. Also, I almost always had a support team to help sell into my accounts
What I LOVE about the Services Space:
- I enjoy the relationship building aspects of the job and wanted to spend more time with less accounts but grow them into large accounts (I was also tired of building a great relationship and then watching the next sales rep make money off my hard work in the product world)
- Making an impact to your customers… Product Demos showing the “Art of the Possible” are great and all, but showing a customer how their business improves with the technology using their own data/process/users, etc is way more rewarding (and this leads to more work almost 9 out of 10 times in my experience)
- The potential to make way more money (larger quotas, but more consistent $$ once you get off the ground)
What I do NOT love about the Services Space:
- Let’s face it, most of us didn’t go into Sales because we had the attention spans or IQ to be Doctors or Physicists! I am wholly reliant on other people who are Developers/Architects/Analysts to do their jobs well. If they do not, there’s nothing I can physically do to fix the problem. I have to negotiate internally to get new resources assigned or scream louder than everyone else to get whatever support my client needs. And since I’m the face of the company to this client, it all falls to me.
- Many things are out of your control that can impact the success of a project: Product Gaps from your Technology Partners, Poor Technology Stack at your customer, Lack of buy-in from Executives, IT/Sales/Operations tug-of-war (who owns the project?), Resource Attrition, Sick Leave and more…
Overall, I find the Services side of the business much more complicated yet also much more rewarding. If you can get past the resourcing challenges (which candidly as a Type A personality I am still struggling with), I believe that you can make more money long term (taking out any equity plays in the SaaS Startup space - acquisitions or IPO), build better relationships and become a much more well-rounded seller! Buyer beware though…. It’s not for the faint of heart!!