Trust-Based Selling: How the Software Market is Changing with Ryan Neu, CEO, Vendr
November 16, 2023
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In the dynamic world of software sales, the balance of power is shifting. Buyers have more leverage, and organizations are moving toward software consolidation.
In our first-ever live LEARN podcast recording, Ryan Neu, CEO and Co-Founder, Vendr, dives into his professional journey from seller to CEO, how companies must adjust to evolving buyer behavior, and how to prove purchase value to decision-makers and stakeholders.
Discover how the world of software buying and selling is changing, and what this means for everyone involved.
The journey from salesperson to CEO
Ryan started his career in accounting–which wasn’t a fit because he didn’t enjoy it. He quickly switched to sales at a startup called LevelUp, which was eventually acquired by Grubhub. After that, he moved on to sales at HubSpot. His experience as a buyer and seller led to him ultimately founding Vendr.
“There was this inherent lack of trust between buyer and seller that always made me feel strange, even if I was being authentic,” Ryan says. “As I grew in my career, I became a software buyer. And as a buyer, I started to see it from the other side, where I was like, ‘gosh, this stinks. I don’t trust the price I’m getting from the salesperson because it’s changing at the end of the month or quarter.'”
These learnings and the aspiration to be his own boss led to Ryan starting Vendr and the organization’s founding principles.
“If you have a great, incredible product, it should sell itself,” he says. “If you have a big need, you should buy something to solve that need. So I’ve dedicated my life professionally to solving this problem, which is bringing trust and transparency to sales, to become the place where people can transact confidently.”
Evolving buyer behavior
There has been a monumental shift in how people purchase software, redefining the power dynamics between buyers and sellers.
“Right now, I think a very real shift is happening,” Ryan says. “In that, the software buyer has a lot of leverage, and with a lot of leverage, it’s really up to you to say what you’re willing to pay.
“A couple of years ago, sellers were holding firm, and buyers were like, ‘OK, you know, I’ve got all this cash. I’m going to spend it.’ But now it’s like, ‘I don’t have all this cash.’ And so now we’re seeing buyers tell their suppliers more like, ‘take it or leave it.’
Today, a cash-conscious environment has flipped the script. Buyers are increasingly adopting a take-it-or-leave-it mindset. This isn’t just a fleeting trend; it’s the new norm in software acquisition.
Focus on SaaS consolidation
With company leaders and CFOs taking a magnifying glass to every purchase, organizations are focused on doing more with less and consolidating their tech stacks for efficiency and productivity.
“Consolidation is one of the number one things we’re not only predicting right now, but we predicted at the beginning of the year, but now we’re also seeing it happen,” Ryan says.
Ryan shares how he sees consolidation unfolding from different angles within an organization:
The CFOs perspective
CFOs are now getting involved in every buying decision. If you want something, you’ve got to justify it to the CFO, and she gets to decide to do it or not.
There’s this added pressure from the top down, forcing teams to do more with less and ask, ‘do you really need to add something to the stack?’
The suppliers perspective
SaaS suppliers are finding it harder to sell net-new products right now. However, getting existing customers to use more products or services is easier. There’s a priority shift happening where orgs are looking at other use cases for the same product.
“Great products that started as single-use case products are becoming platforms,” Ryan says.
“And so we’re finding this movement to incumbents focusing on new categories and then the most important things that feature set must offer. And they’re not doing the bells and whistles, so we think this trend is here to stay.
“They’re all combining into this. I don’t know if it’s winner-take-all, but I think there will be a very real advantage for the platform play versus the nice-to-have.”
The message is clear: audit your existing tech stack before adding new layers, and platforms that can expand their use cases without unnecessary features will outpace the competition.
Justifying software purchases
Securing software purchases requires aligning on business outcomes and delivering compelling ROI.
Ryan shares how software salespeople play a crucial role in this process, helping buyers articulate and achieve the necessary ROI to get purchases approved.
“If you want to buy something, it’s the salesperson’s job to help you convince your boss to get this approved,” he says. “And the number one thing I would ask is, how do you attach the thing you want to buy to a business outcome?”
Ryan shares that to get buy-in from a CFO, you need to speak their language, but you must take it a step beyond ROI.
“If you can prove a return on the investment, that’s step one,” he says. “To actually get the purchase proof, you have to really showcase more of like a 5x ROI because every employer right now that’s attempting to buy something at their company, they’re saying there’s a return on the investment.
“So the CFO is like, if there’s a return on every investment here, I need to prioritize. The biggest investments. And so if you can actually get the salesperson to prove to you why their platform is like a 5 to 7x ROI, that usually gets the CFO interested to actually prioritize that purchase.”
Buyers and sellers must work together to demonstrate product value. The challenge is proving the ROI for cost savings and exponential business growth.
The future of software sales
The nature of buying and selling software is changing. It’s shifting from negotiation games to creating a direct, fair, and transparent relationship between buyers and sellers.
“You don’t need a negotiation to get to a fair price, you just need the right mentality that you care about one another as human beings,” Ryan says. “Typically the seller will give you a fair price and then you should follow through. And sign when you said you were going to sign, or if you get bad news, tell them, because in sales, the second best thing to a yes is a no.”
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Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
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