Software-as-a-service (SaaS) was originally designed to be a more streamlined, user-friendly alternative to legacy software, bought and used online. But as SaaS surges with generative AI offerings, the sales process is beginning to resemble the struggles of the past. The startup Minoa has emerged to solve these problems.
Long sales cycles, multiple SaaS vendors for any given problem, and a growing number of stakeholders, now including finance department money wranglers and clause-crafting lawyers, have turned SaaS sales into a lengthy, cumbersome process.
Minoa, a startup founded by two frustrated SaaS experts, is addressing these issues with a platform for information exchange between the vendor and all stakeholders, aiming to build trust and provide a clearer idea of how customers plan to use the software. The ‘digital room’ also helps vendors capture valuable data, such as customer interactions, ROI calculations, and stakeholder engagement.
“One of the big problems that we’re seeing is that the number of stakeholders in the sales conversations has actually been increasing,” said Max Elster, co-founder and CEO of Minoa.
The rise of SaaS began in the late 1990s when Salesforce founder Marc Benioff introduced the company’s now ubiquitous customer relations management software delivered over the internet and accessible via a web browser on a subscription basis. The model brought significant cost savings to customers as they no longer needed to maintain their software or hardware, but it also made purchasing simple for anyone with a budget to spend.
The launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, which revolutionized cloud computing by providing a scalable, reliable infrastructure platform in the cloud, further lowered the barrier to entry for SaaS startups and with the arrival of the smartphone era, the SaaS industry experienced exponential growth.
The increasing accessibility of the internet and the rise of mobile computing meant that software could be used anywhere, anytime. Now, thousands of SaaS applications are available for every conceivable business function, from productivity and project management to marketing, sales, and HR.
But as more and more SaaS offerings crowd the market, businesses have been pushing back. CFOs and security professionals are questioning why multiple Single Sign On systems exist within the same company. It not only expands the surface vector for security breaches and attacks but also introduces redundant costs. The inability of companies to efficiently manage and vet these systems has led to a slowdown in sales.
As a result, an increasing number of people are now involved in SaaS purchases. Minoa recognized the need to involve this disparate group throughout the sales journey, giving them a transparent understanding of the product’s value and return on investment (ROI).
The conventional sales process operates on a stage-by-stage progression that often becomes generic and fails. Minoa believes in a more flexible sales process, enabling customers to jump between stages based on their awareness and needs.
By leveraging cloud technology to create a shared digital workspace, Minoa can track and analyze this data, building graphs and analytics that help vendors understand customer needs better. The platform encourages open dialogue and information sharing between different stakeholders, enabling the sales rep to maneuver each individual SaaS deal more effectively.
“We’re capturing all this information,” said Richard Einhorn, Minoa’s CTO and other founder, adding that Minoa’s users can see who is bringing in additional stakeholders, when it’s time to bring an executive into the deal or whether legal or finance departments are involved. “That’s the magic formula in our opinion to get a good deal over the line.”
Market research firm Gartner predicts SaaS spending will increase to $195 billion in 2023, constituting about a third of total cloud spending. Based on that potential, Minoa was able to raise $2.7 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round led by the VC fund 468 Capital, with offices in Berlin and San Francisco, together with other Silicon Valley-based funds and unicorn founders..
“We believe that there is a tremendous opportunity for a category-defining business to be built at the intersection of pricing, value management, and quoting,” said Philipp Seifert, partner at 468 Capital.
These kinds of tools are often referred to as collaboration software, as they assist in coordinating and synchronizing activities between individuals or teams. And Minoa isn’t alone – there are other so-called sales enablement software companies out there aimed at helping SaaS vendors streamline their sales processes, close deals faster, and reduce churn. Each of these companies offers unique tools and strategies for SaaS vendors.
DecisionLink provides a value management platform, called ValueCloud, designed to help organizations articulate the value of their solutions to prospective buyers. Ecosystems Services, Inc. offers a cloud-based platform for managing customer relationships, like Minoa promoting collaboration between vendors and customers to align vendor solutions with customer goals.
And ProfitWell, which became a part of payment-related software vendor Paddle in 2021, offers tools to help SaaS vendors utilize data-driven insights to accelerate sales and reduce customer churn. Meanwhile, Seattle-based Highspot, valued at $3.5 billion, uses AI to recommend the most relevant content for specific sales scenarios and is adopting a conversational AI interface.
Minoa’s differentiation is its focus on a collaborative environment that facilitates more productive conversations between vendors and buyers. The startup’s approach could very well be the magic formula that not only gets more deals over the line, potentially transforming the future of SaaS sales.
“We want to be the main framework for how SaaS companies work with other companies to collaborate on a specific deal,” said Minoa CEO Elster.
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