In this blog post, we go deep into the following:
- What DeepStream’s 3-month walk-away right includes
- Commitment to transparent contracts and pricing
- Why it’s in our sales teams’ best interest to properly qualify new business
- Why we’re choosing to challenge companies to put the customer first
What is the 3-month walk-away right and why we implemented it
Philip Madero Hammarskiöld, our Head of Business Development emphasises the importance of offering a 3-month walk-away right as a key differential between ourselves and other procurement software providers. He explained that, having spoken to procurement professionals, they had been frustrated that companies selling enterprise software would never let you try the product. This meant an onerous task on the customer to do a huge amount of research in order to find a solution, and even then, the long implementation time (averaging 9 months) meant that there was considerable uncertainty as to when customers would find out whether the solution actually worked. However, due to the nature of long term contracts they had to sign to test the product, if the results were disappointing, customers were trapped - locked in for years.
This was a core reason why DeepStream decided to implement a 3-month walk-away right. As Philip says:
"We want people to stay because they want to and they see value in the product - not because they are forced to. It doesn’t make sense - we are saying that our platform will deliver value and is better than the competition - then if that’s true why wouldn’t we let people use it and see for themselves?”
Ultimately, we’re a product first company - which is reflected in our investment in the product, dev and customer success teams in comparison to a much smaller sales team. We want to let the product speak for itself, and don’t want to use sales tactics that dupe companies into joining like most other enterprise software companies do.
If you are interested in understanding a bit more, let's talk!
How this approach is reflective of DeepStream’s culture
This speaks to the culture of DeepStream as a whole, and how we work together as a company. Aedan Stänkelström, a recruit from Oracle NetSuite, highlighted the difference between big companies with fragmented departments that work against each other, rather than collaboratively.
“Everyone worked in their own interest - Sales would do and say anything to get the sale over the line, and then would have to sell internally to the next team who would only be involved in the implementation and would be trying to add additional hours which results in higher hidden costs”
These are two things that do not happen at DeepStream. As Philip says, Sales doesn’t want to bring in a partner that feels tricked because of the negative impact it has on Customer Success relationships, and the pressure it puts on Product to deliver usability that doesn’t fit with the roadmap and overall product vision. Despite the different department headings, we are all part of the same Commercial team, and it’s therefore in our best interest to qualify clients on that basis. The 3-month walk-away right is part of that qualification process as well. DeepStream works off an agile model where we develop the product based on user feedback - if users don’t use the product and don’t have a use case, we can’t improve our offering.
With a trial we are therefore able to give our partners comfort and security, reduce the time researching by giving them access before making any long term commitments, and also allow them to see how their suppliers like it (which is equally important to the partners themselves liking it). Unfortunately, since the big companies that have dominated the market for so long with a lock-in and unfair sales approach, many potential customers doubt the transparency of our contract model and remain suspicious of hidden costs and long-term lock-ins.
Overcoming procurement software scarring
The scarring left from our Buyer’s previous experience buying and implementing Procurement software, has created a sad reality of how customers expect to be treated in the current market. Our contract model has embedded the guarantee of a 3-month walk away, and a clear pricing model that does not include implementation or support costs - why? Because we don’t charge our partners for either, and don’t intend to in the future. We don’t believe in pricing being a blocker to our partners asking for help when they need it, or to understanding what best practices are and how they can get the most out of using the product.
The reason why we don’t have to charge for implementation or support, is ultimately because we don’t need to. Unlike the avg. 9 month implementation period for enterprise software, we’ve had our partners up and running on the platform in less than a day - and our average implementation overall is 2 ½ days. Additionally, and in a testament to the user-friendliness of our product, our users require minimal support because the platform is simply so easy to use. Whenever they do have questions however, we are always there and happy to answer them which allows us to develop close working relationships with our partners because it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Putting the customer first ALWAYS
This is the same reason why we offer a sign now, use and pay later. We give our partners the opportunity to sign on for a trial today, but not start the trial or start paying until their first onboarding. This flexibility enables our partners to find a time that is convenient for themselves and their team to trial the platform, and doesn’t put another ticking time bomb on their desk. We want to start our partner relationships as we intend to continue them, positively and with respect for our users' schedules and workflows.
Both Philip and Aedan have said that there is sometimes a disbelief that this is actually our contract and operational model, many thinking it’s just too good to be true. This speaks to the current status of top down and frankly bullyish behavior that has been allowed to run rife in the procurement software space - without alternate options, companies have had no choice but to accept a sales model that is time consuming, has long term implications and are rigid. We believe that customers deserve better, which is why it is a policy at DeepStream to not implement software that we haven’t given a trial for. We hope by doing this we will put pressure on other companies to implement trials and focus on customer satisfaction and usage rather than unfair sales tactics to get customers to sign long term contracts before getting the opportunity to try the product.