The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

December 31, 2019

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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In this episode, Steli and Hiten debate which is best: self serve or non self serve SaaS applications. Technology has evolved the business transaction to a point where salespeople have become redundant, but is automated sales the best way or do consumers still need that human interaction? Tune in to the discussion as Steli and Hiten lay out the pros and cons of both applications and the most important factors to consider as you choose your sales model.  

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:35 – Self serve SaaS applications: the customer signs up for trial and later subscribes on their own

01:03 – The non-self serve model is when there is human interaction to initiate the sale

02:18 – Steli discusses the emerging trend in sales; will the future of sales will be automated with bots and AI?

03:36 – To Hiten, people are used to use self service rather than full service

04:02 – Hiten still sees some companies doing full service

04:33 – Traditionally, the group has been divided

05:26 – The larger the customer base, the more they want to ask a salesperson what they’re subscribing to

06:12 – “Everything depends on your customer”

07:53 – As long as humans are involved with the process, there’s going to be friction

08:20 – Humans like buying things from other humans

08:54 – The more difficult the buying decision is around your software product, the more you need humans to help in the decision making process

09:53 – Hopefully, technology will allow humans to increase their productivity with tasks

10:04 – One example of a productivity killer—scheduling

11:01 – Steli hopes that companies will stop doing high volume, low quality activities

11:52 – Hiten noticed that sales is a dominant component in SaaS companies

12:43 – It’s easy to get caught in sales and revenue

14:05 – “Hiring salespeople and scaling sales is an endeavor of investing your business ahead of your revenues”

15:07 – What happened to sales

15:42 – In the past 10 years, sales has become horrible

16:25 – Steli foresees a correction and change coming for sales

17:52 – There’s NO one-model-fits-all business in sales

18:19 – We’re now in a world where you can download an app/service and use it even before you talk to somebody

18:49 – Hiten explains PQLs or product qualified leads

22:23 – How your customers buy is a good starting point

22:44 – It’s your decision if you want to change strategies

23:56 – Start testing your leads – there’s no harm in trying

26:14 – That’s it for today’s episode!

3 Key Points:

Your customers will ultimately decide the process you need to subscribe to—whether it be a self serve or a full service SaaS.

Technology has both pros and cons in regards to sales; weigh what works best for your product and/or service.  

Look into PQLs (product qualified leads) as a current and efficient marketing tool.


Steli Efti: Hey this is Steli Efti. And this is Hiten Shah. Today's episode of the startup chat we're gonna talk about self serve versus non self serve in sas. Alright? So here's for those who might not know the definitions just to make sure we have, yeah, no confusion in the you know there's sass applications out there where the customer can sign up for a trial and then decide to upgrade put in their payment information and buy the product, all on their own, quote unquote. On their own, right? and we can challenge how the self serve, the self serve model really is, but they do that basically without a salesperson needing to reach out and sell them and get their credit card information push them to buy the product. So thats one model and then the other model is where you have an actual sales process or a sales person reach out communicate trial user, reach out to the salesperson,

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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