Thursday, July 23, 2009

Business-as-a-Service

I remember during the .com how many companies wouldn't say what their products did or how much they cost on their website. The one that particularly comes to mind was E.pithany, whose website was laden with benefits and customer praise, but after spending 15 minutes perusing their website, I couldn't figure out what they did.

Business-as-a-Service is one of the best aspects of Software-as-a-Service: the commerce is frictionless. We at Transpond consume many services ranging from email to source code control to customer service systems, and we have never had to talk to anyone, negotiate a contract, or deal with anything complicated. We look around online, find a vendor that we like, check out their terms of service, use their free trial, and if we like it, we start paying monthly for the service.

What I have found surprising when looking for services is we still run into some that don't answer the three basic questions that every business should answer:
  1. What do you do?
  2. How do I get it?
  3. How much does it cost?

While looking for a SaaS subscription billing service, I checked out one that has received a lot of press lately but did not have any indication of pricing or a guide on how to integrate the technology. I sent them an email stating specifically what we needed and asked for information on pricing and integration. They wanted me to schedule a call with a sales rep! So perhaps they are delivering Software-as-a-Service, but definitely not delivering Business-as-a-Service. Of all companies, why don't these guys let me choose what I want from a menu and then start billing me for it!

At Transpond, we definitely subscribe to the Business-as-a-Service philosophy and answer these three questions quickly and simply:
  1. What do you do?
    Home page headline: Easily Create Apps for Social Networks, Mobile, and Connected TV.
  2. How do I get it?
    Home page and every page: "Get Started" button or link.
  3. How much does it cost?
    Products/Overview: Price list.


While it seems the entire web is Business-as-a-Service now-a-days, we should recognize the pioneers, which include Google, WebEx, PayPal, Intuit, and Salesforce. These companies were all very clear about what they did, how to sign up, and how much it would cost... and they all grew into huge businesses, some without ever publishing a phone number!

2 comments:

Travis said...

Man, that really is a turn-off when you actually are interested in a product / service, take the time (via email) to request more info on a specific question or requirement ... and then get greeted with some generic "let's talk" response from some sales person. That is so 1998.

And inexcusable not to say exactly what your product is and exactly how much it costs. Who buys products that they don't understand? When I see companies that have these really opaque descriptors of their product, it makes me feel like they don't understand me or my common "use cases."

When a company doesn't publish its pricing info, it makes me feel like they have something to hide. And it certainly makes me 99.99% less likely to have any dialogue with them (i.e., who wants to raise their hand to get contacted by a salesperson?).

1998:
>Opaque product descriptors
>No pricing info
>Customer Contact = Return Contact from Sales Person, then spamming the shit out of them from that point forward

2009:
>Clear product descriptors
>Pricing published (alongside competitor pricing, to ease the pricing eval vs. confusing it)
>Customer Contact = reply from company founder if a smaller upstart; or at minimum reply from more of a "peer" than just dumping the prospect into generic sales follow-up)

Nichole said...

I've been experiencing these things as well. And this is so annoying. However, if this method is producing money then why not?

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