5 SaaS Features For Big Enterprises
In order to sell to enterprises, SaaS startups usually need to add the same 5 core product features. These features allow for a dramatic increase in price (often a few fold) and the ability to close large accounts that may scale in the millions of dollars per customer.
The below assumes you have something that is working bottoms up that you want to adapt for enterprise. If your core product does not have product/market fit, adding the below features won't help much.
Enterprise features usually include:
1. Single Sign On (SSO).
In some cases, SSO is sufficient to cause enterprises to adopt your product. This is often the minimal enterprise feature set.
2. Admin View & Permissions.
Often you want to be able to have an admin set permissions for individuals or groups of users. Alternatively, you want to be able to set preferences at the group level versus individual level (for example, you do not want to add every new engineering hire to 50 slack channels. You would rather add them to "eng" and have it propagate to all channels. Lastly, you want to be able to have an admin take over or manage specific permissions. This is often the second or thing most requested feature for enterprises.
3. Security & Compliance.
The most common compliance request is SOC2, which sets the data and information security policies, procedures and approaches. Other forms of compliance may include GDPR, HIPAA (for healthcare companies) and FEDRamp (for US Government contractors). In general, these security compliance guidelines set policies around things like data encryption, rules for which employees have access to what data, and even things like physical security of servers on which data is stored.
Enterprises may additionally request a separate security audit or review, or may want their security team to come visit and ask questions first hand.
Your bottom up pricing often allows an early adopter to put your product on a credit card. For large enterprises there are specific types of invoices / integrations you may need to do over time. This is usually not a deal breaker, but makes it easier to get paid.
Additionally, you may need to do a lot of paperwork and procurement reviews with large enterprises. This may necessitate a sales operations or support team. Not a product feature, but good to know about.
Bigco: We want to buy your thing.
Me: Great! Here's the link.
Bigco: No, we want to buy it...differently.
Bigco: Slower. More complicated.
Me: Are you sure you can't just–
Bigco: You need to fill out these PDFs.
— Ben Orenstein (@r00k) December 5, 2019
Honorable Mention - On Premise.
As an aside - an honorable mention for enterprise sales may be on premise software - a subset of the world does not want its code, communications, or other sensitive data hosted on a third party providers cloud, or with a startups security know how. The world largely continues to move to the cloud, but sometimes this is necessary for at least a subset of customers. Some SaaS companies chose to skip customers who require an on-premise solution, while for others the business case / revenue is sufficient to justify it.
Generally the 5 features listed above are straight forward to do and take at most a few engineers for a few months each (and may be banged out by a small team over 3-9 months depending on how many are needed, and the complexity of e.g. admin view). Once you have these 5 features core procurement and common use cases should not be a major obstacle to adoption (although product-specific features may still always be an issue.
As an aside, the ability to increase pricing dramatically with even a subset of these features often surprises founders. :)
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