Nuts & Bolts of Marketing & Selling in US for First Timers: A crash course playbook!!

After releasing recently SoftALM and SoftAgile (Agile Project & ALM Tools), we at JamBuster were trying to decide on how to sell these tools in US.  We had sold software services in US earlier, but selling software product to US from India is new to us. So we were looking for some help!

They say- we start seeing things, when we start looking for them.  I noticed an email from Avinash Raghava, the co-founder of iSPIRT Foundation, about a PlayBook on Nuts & Bolts of Marketing & Selling in US for First Timers, in Hyderabad on 27th February. It was to be led by Suresh Sambandam of KiSSFLOW.

Playbook Roundtables are the small, intimate and intense experiential learning sessions that iSPIRT have pioneered.  Suresh is a iSPIRT maven, meaning trusted expert who pass knowledge to others in a pay-forward model. Suresh is a kind of celebrity in selling products or productize services in US from India! He led KiSSFLOW to have more than 10,000+ customers across the globe, in less than 3.5 years. That is absolutely phenomenal success in SaaS world, doing it from India!

Looking at these credentials, I registered for the event and got a quick reply from Chaitanya Chokkareddy of Ozonetel.  Ozonetel was to host the event. Ozonetel offers CloudAgent -a Cloud Call Center Solution that was already successful in India and was also starting on their US go-to-market strategy.  On Saturday morning I met with Vikas & Aditya from FirstHive, who have recently introduced a customer engagement SaaS offering.  I could see this was going to be informative.

Suresh’s presentation was logical, down to earth, like him. He started with timing or relevance of this phase (after Product-Market Fit), followed by knowing your customer through B2B Customers Characterization.  Next focus was on Product, inversion of selling model, freemium vs free trial, and the price.  This is then followed by digital marketing toolset, such as website, SEO, Adwords, Content writing and email marketing. Similarly, Suresh went through step by step in sales, founders and each and every aspect, as available on following presentation:

Few quick take aways:

  1. SaaS is a tough business, even when done correct.That is evidenced from the fact that 1st $1MM in revenues is almost impossible, while first $10MM is improbable, but if you do pass $10MM, then $50MM is almost inevitable. Hence the lure.
  2. SaaS models lends itself to simpler applications and focus is on
    SOHO / VSB  : no touch
    SMB & Midmarket : low touch
    Enterprise : high touch
  3. For SaaS, traditional model of marketing, sales and products gets inverted. The marketing’s job is to bring horse to pond, the product is the water and sales is understanding what the horse did with water.

I think the success of Playbook was in small size (8-12 companies), along with focus on making it relevant to your business.  While some topics may feel dry on slide, Suresh made them very interactive by first sharing his experience and then asking participants to chip in their experience.  Suresh used these chip-in opportunities for people to get honest feedback. He suggested to Sainath Gupta of AnythingAI to who go through Product Market Fit analysis for his offerings of AI Platform along with Data Science Team as service. In our case, SaaS turns out to be not a path for now, as our solution focuses on end-to-end Agile Application Development platform for teams of 25-2500.

An interesting contribution here comes from Avinash Raghava, who is walking encyclopedia of Indian Software Product ecosystem, its history.  He is focussed on making this even successful from back end, but during the event, he is the source of amazing information on who’s who, what and when!

While registering, I had asked for payment getaway, Chaitanya mentioned that it was a free event. He was surprised that someone from Pune was traveling to Hyderabad for essentially a six hours long workshop.  For me the timing of it and Suresh’s experience was an immense draw.  Turned out the open discussion with fellow product or productize services companies on their way to sell in US and Suresh guiding with refreshing openness really made it icing on the top.

Thank you Suresh for sharing the blue print, that took you 1-2 years to discover through sheer hard work. Thank you Avinash for the event and the fellow product entrepreneurs for such a debates. Thank you iSPIRIT for building this wonderful ecosystem!

I highly recommend all entrepreneurs, whether you are about to or already started or even successful selling in US to attend this and other Playbook Roundtable. I thought these 6 hours saved me at least 100 hours of discovery work. Even more importantly, it is making Indian Product Ecosystem come alive!!!

Guest post by Satish Kamat, Jambuster Technologies