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“People Aren’t Buying Products Anymore. They’re Subscribing to Them.”

By Alex Low | @Alexander_Low

This post by Chris Orlob got me thinking. He cites a business called Zuora which says the way people are consuming/buying products and services is changing.

They start their sales pitches with this:

“People aren’t buying products anymore. They’re  subscribing to them.”

When you think about this further, they are on to something.

Software as a Service has been around for a while now,

“Software as a service (SaaS; pronounced /sæs/[1]) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.[2][3] It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”,[4] and was formerly referred to as “software plus services” by Microsoft.[5]

If you use Salesforce, you are basically paying as you use it. You can scale up the licenses as you need. Similar to a pay as you go phone, you just pay for what you use, when you need to use it. 

There are different types of “as a service models appearing”. For all your AI needs, anyone can sign up to Amazon Web Services and use a certain amount of their computing power for free.

Freemium or premium?

Then when you hit a threshold, you start paying for it. I am on the wait list for their translation services. You then have the freemium models like Spotify. Don’t subscribe, get adverts. Subscribe, consume as much content as you want, without any interruption. Same goes for Netflix. All they want is your monthly sub, and it doesn’t matter if you watch 100 movies or one. There is now talk of property moving towards Space as a Service – which is what WeWork has created: pay for what you need, when you need it.

So, what has this got to do with anything, especially sales? Do we need to consider looking at sales through a different lens? Can selling be considered as Knowledge as a Service? Digitally savvy buyers self-educate before they will engage with a vendor. What are they typically seeking? Information on a product or a service, yes. They will rely on the knowledge of others in terms of their opinions on said product or service. As well as the knowledge that your sales and marketing teams will disseminate into the digital economy, via a social network. All executed through the behaviours and tactics of social selling.

I would suggest that this is how a sales person should consider themselves. A service provider of knowledge that their audience will subscribe to. How do you get them to subscribe, or follow? Simple really, ensure that timely and relevant content is being distributed across the relevant social channels where the audience is seeking knowledge.  Use your data of understanding how and why your clients buy to drive the right conversation at the right time.

Feed your machine learning

“Payment” could well be giving an email address or completing a sign-up form to get premium knowledge. This will then feed your marketing automation platform with intent data. It could be a “follow” on any social network. If you have Microsoft Social Engagement in Dynamics 365, this feeds the intent machine learning.

It could be a visit to your website. Helping your marketing and sales team understand where the buyer is in their journey, thereby guiding what knowledge or content needs to shared next during the buying journey.  It is highly likely to be all of this. And more. 

Help customers move forward

Get the winning formula right and you will have many subscribers (followers) which you can then move into your sales process. However, you must ensure that you are using all of the data at your disposal to ensure that your buyer experiences the same service, no matter what the communications, including face to face or over the phone. 

The next time you consider engaging with a client or prospect, consider this, what is it they want to subscribe to? Based on the data in the market today, I would suggest it is knowledge that they didn’t know or understand. And that will help them move internal conversations forward with their stakeholders. #KaaS: that is subject for another blog. 

Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

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