An Offer You Can’t Refuse
I turned on the TV at 9pm on Saturday to see what was on. I heard the familiar music and the black screen revealed the words…
‘The Godfather by Mario Puzo’,
it was perfect timing!
I remembered reading the book when I was 13 years old.
I also remembered my mother saying
“I am not sure you should be reading that.”
By chapter 7 I had been exposed to a whole other side of life. Since that time I have watched “The Godfather”… Hmmm… Only about 30 times.
It was the start of a Godfather marathon and I caught it from the beginning! Was I ever excited. The opening scene on the ‘Day of My Daughter’s wedding’ when The Don (“The Boss”), traditionally is obliged to meet with friends and grant their requests. Marlon Brando was amazing in the role in this scene as he talks to the Undertaker and his godson Johnny.
His godson Johnny Fontaine who is trying to re-launch his career and wants The Don to see if he can pull some strings with a Hollywood mogul to get him a big key part in a new movie. After slapping Johnny and telling him to ‘act like a man’ he then tells his adopted son, Tom, that he will get him the part.
“How?” Tom asks.
“We’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”.
Ah… Yes, of course. The good old ‘Offer you can’t refuse’.
Unfortunately it seems the Hollywood mogul not only liked making movies, but was also an aficionado of horse racing, so he had a weak point in his non-negotiation tactics (note: some people are heavy sleepers, but this guy takes the cake. He slept all the way through a horse’s head being placed in his bed!).
The theme of ‘Making Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse’ runs through the movie, coming up again when the new Don, Michael Corleone, puts the muscle on Moe Green in order to get control of the hotel they bankrolled for him in Vegas.
I thought a lot about ‘The offer’. I know I should be taking time off enjoying my weekend and not thinking about work, but I sat there thinking about the offers that we make online to our customers in our trucking software and freight brokerage software business.
We put the price right up front. There are three tiers at $69 for Standard, $99 for Pro, and Enterprise for $139.
That is the PRICE, but that isn’t the OFFER. The offer is actually,
AND we include access to our live online training sessions, our live support and access to all the surrounding support materials. You see, we want our customers to get ‘the experience’ of what it is like to be a customer of Tailwind Transportation Software before they actually have to put down their credit card.
I was reminded of a conversation that I had with one customer last week. He said:
“I really like the fact that you put the price right up front there. I am also signing up for one of your trials. I was frustrated with X Company because I asked them what their price was and they wouldn’t tell me. All they would say was ‘it depends’ and then told me that I had to attend a sales demo. I said forget it. Then I phoned you guys.”
You see, this is the crux of the issue…
Customers want to engage and consume software in a different way now, not just in the trucking industry, but in all industries. The Internet continues to change the way we interact, manage business, and obtain business. In 2016 more enterprise software was consumed via a ‘Software as a Service’ (“SaaS”) subscription than by license.
The truth is this (and this is coming from a 30+ year sales veteran…).
CUSTOMERS DON’T WANT TO BE SOLD TO.
I don’t think they ever really wanted to be ‘Sold’, but they have always wanted more information, and more power in the relationship. In many industries the OEMs (the sellers) have wanted to limit information and power, or just couldn’t figure out a way to manage a mutually beneficial process where ‘information power’ is shared.
Customers used to be okay with the old way of selling when it was the ONLY way they could get information. They used to be okay with it when most of the software was client server software, and sold on a license basis. They did it because it was commonplace but it’s not anymore.
The new currency in enterprise software, and now in enterprise trucking software, is the ability of posting your price and giving a customer access to the software to try it for themselves. The customer gets to see if it’s a ‘fit’ for their business needs, it’s the new ‘table stakes’ in a changing industry. The time has come.
No doubt, it exacts a big investment in time and energy for a software company to adapt to this new reality. Many companies choose not to, or simply can’t do so. Perhaps it’s too big a change or it upends their economic model to a degree that they just can’t make the leap.
At the end of the day it’s really not the ‘PRICE’ which shifts the economic model, but all the work that goes into being able to PUBLICIZE the price – changing a business model to one built around a ‘customer buying process’ and not a ‘salesperson selling process’.
When you post your Price online you are really saying this:
- This company had to go through the hard work and effort to simplify its pricing system and its user adoption methodology in order to render the software to be consumed on a monthly basis.
- This company had to change its company to build a ‘customer-entric’ culture that put the onus on the company to adapt the changing needs of the customer – not the reverse.
- This company was more willing to accept the risk in the relationship and not shift most of the risk of the buying decision on the customer who had to buy a 3-5 year license and ongoing maintenance contracts.
- This company had to believe that in helping customers mitigate up front investments in capital, and long lead times for installation that customers would be able to move quicker in their markets, and appreciate the new model – meaning they stay engaged.
- This company’s business has now moved to a symbiotic win-win relationship with the customer. They are working day-in and day-out with a ‘just in time’ software business model and sees its software continuously improved, and adapted to a dynamically changing marketplace.
- But most profoundly, it says that this company had the confidence to open up its business, be more accessible, and transparent with customers. This company didn’t need to ‘sell’ the customer, and demonstrated that it’s okay not to be ‘perfect’, as long as you were willing to change quickly and accept continuous improvement as your mantra. All with the goal of helping the customer make a choice for themselves at the end of their free 30 days, empowering them to buy (or not to buy).
Ultimately, the software as a service (SaaS) business model forces all software businesses to adapt and change. They have to figure out how they are going to empower their customers through their pricing model, and their trial process to figure out how to give…
‘An Offer They Can’t Refuse’.
Hmm, and next time, I guess I should just watch it on Netflix. No appointment necessary.
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