Software as a Service (SaaS) is taking the world by storm. According to Forrester, the amount of SaaS businesses grew from 10.000 in 2010, to a whopping 175.000 today.
As a great supporter (and user) of SaaS, I follow the development of SaaS closely and what I find specifically interesting, is the difference in the success rate of SaaS per industry. Why do some industries embrace SaaS so easily and why do other sectors struggling to adapt? Among many reasons, the following always comes up:
“Some industries just do not embrace innovation as much as others.”
This one is annoying, isn’t it? We want to know why and above all: what can SaaS vendors do to break this resistance to innovation?
Let’s take Hospitality. This industry is notorious for the slow adoption of technology, however, since I started working in Hospitality Tech a few years ago, I’ve seen some very, very forward-thinking hoteliers. We all know the likes of Citizen M, who are basically built on innovative tech, but I also met a lot of independent hoteliers that embrace technology like their life depends on it. I am confident to say that the majority of hoteliers are actually aware of the fact that their business will require the right technology to cater to their future guests. So what could it be that is causing hoteliers to be cautious in choosing SaaS?
Well, let’s look at a sector that has been completely changed by the introduction of SaaS: Marketing. Nowadays, any business needs marketing and because it is developing so fast, businesses basically have no choice but to adopt new technology to stay in the game. But don’t be mistaken, this doesn’t mean that every entrepreneur has the relevant knowledge to choose the right solution. However, they seem to have found a way to make up for this lack of knowledge. But how?
It’s rather simple: by buying expertise. Marketing Agencies have seen their business grow tremendously over the last few years, as they are the experts on a very specific, but essential part of everyone’s business. And Marketing SaaS solutions have seen this as an opportunity. Instead of competing with these agencies, they reached out to them. By listening to their needs, they created solutions that not only cater to the end-user but also help Marketing Agencies grow their own business and enable them to achieve better results for their clients.
Basically, they’ve hit 2 birds with 1 stone: First of all, they turned these agencies into customers by selling their solution to the agency. But more importantly, these agencies now base large parts of their business around the SaaS solution. Every new client of the agency is a new client for the SaaS solution. What I am trying to prove is this:
Every SaaS provider should realize that the majority of their future clients do not fully understand which solution they need. Also, they do not always want to reach out directly to SaaS vendors. Instead, they feel much more comfortable to turn to people they trust, like experts, consultants, and peers.
Despite this, what we see in Hospitality is that most Hospitality SaaS vendors sell directly. They totally overlook the opportunity to REALLY cooperate with hospitality consultants. If a SaaS vendor does have a referral program in place, 9 out of 10 consultants say they experience the partnership as a 1-way street. Many consultants have told me that they are the ones providing the vendor with leads, but never get anything back in terms of business.
And this is maybe even the craziest part. Because SaaS vendors can actually generate huge amounts of work for consultants, with little effort. Lots of areas where SaaS vendors struggle could be done much better by a local consultant: implementation, training, change management, digital transformation, and product adoption. And on top of it all, passing this over to an experienced consultant contributes to a better customer experience, better use of the software, better results for the customer, and better retention. Seems like a logical option for any SaaS vendor, who often only has a remote Customer Success or Support team to take care of this.
Watch and learn: It seems like this revolution already has taken place in MarTech. Vendors can hugely improve the adoption of SaaS in Hospitality by working closely with consultants that can improve product adoption and increase the results for hoteliers. Vendors should reach out and ask what consultants need to run a successful business and then proactively generate this kind of business for them. 100% chance they will fight to achieve the best results for your shared customers and return much more leads.
So, forget about referral fees, who cares about €50 per month? It is much more powerful to create an even playfield, where you both generate business for each other and become stronger by working together. Try to win your partner’s heart, and you will eventually win your customer’s heart.
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