By Sean Joyce, SVP, Recurring Revenue Technologies, Navint
Technology is an important enabler of every organization’s lead-to-revenue strategy. But a crowded and complex vendor landscape can make it challenging for organizations to select the right partners, platforms and tools. This is especially true in recent years, as the industry experienced a convergence of solutions within the same basic market, albeit with differentiated features and functionalities.
Here we offer three tips to help organizations make sense of the vendor landscape and select an optimal partner to help design and execute an effective lead-to-revenue strategy:
1. Understand nuances between solutions.
On the surface, the lead-to-revenue landscape appears to have many vendors that offer the same services. But look a bit deeper and you will notice some important differentiators. For example, some companies will focus on their domain expertise, such as front-, middle-, or back-office. Others may specialize B2B vs. B2C. Still other vendors cater to low vs. high volume transactions or subscription vs. consumption vs. hybrid business models.
When selecting a vendor, it’s important to determine which products and services will be an ideal fit for your business. For example, Zuora has built an offering for the “middle-office” junction between CRM and ERP. Aria, goTransverse, BillingPlatform, and LogiSense tend to have robust functionality focused on sophisticated and hybrid business models, whereas vendors like Recurly, Chargify, Chargebee, and FuseBill are tuned for high-volume, subscription business models. In the back-office, ERP vendors have either built lightweight functionality or acquired companies to manage subscription and recurring revenue. Even traditional payment gateways like Stripe have brought forth subscription functionality. Meanwhile, CRM vendors are moving towards the back-office—as seen most clearly in Salesforce CPQ & Billing.
Considerable overlap and interdependency between these solutions and systems means that organizations can’t look at recurring revenue technologies in a silo—just as the business can no longer isolate front-, middle-, and back-office operations. Companies must identify which technology will anchor the recurring revenue stack and then develop operational processes to support the desired future state.
2. Think about long-term needs and flexibility.
A recurring revenue model is one of constant change—and the technology solution needs to support the launch of new products, incorporate additional packaging options and enable a wide range of customer self-service options. At the same time, the lead-to-revenue solution must be flexible enough to support the customer no matter where he or she falls on the continuum—from a premium subscriber with constantly changing add-on services or upgrades, to a more traditional sales model.
Finding a partner that will create a solution that can both address the business’s current needs and adapt with the organization over time is an important consideration. Ultimately, this partnership should support new avenues of growth—not limit how the business functions in any way.
3. Stress integration and unity.
Integration is also a crucial factor in choosing the right vendor team. There is no “end-to-end” solution on the market today, which means that most organizations are forced to rely on two or more tools to serve the front and back offices. When selecting tools and systems, the organization must ensure that these platforms work together and create a comprehensive solution that serves the entire lead-to-revenue lifecycle.
Speaking more broadly, solving recurring revenue challenges requires a unique perspective and skillset. When engaging a transformation partner to guide the development of the lead-to-revenue strategy, the organization must think broadly, focusing on both the front and back office. Siloed approaches to scaling recurring revenue businesses ultimately fail because customers interact with companies across the entire lead-to-revenue lifecycle—and many organizations fail to recognize that customer need.
At Navint, we think of the lead-to-revenue lifecycle as one continuous process—regardless of how many tools, applications or platforms feed into that architecture. When helping with sales-focused initiatives, we know how that impacts downstream systems and processes like billing and revenue recognition. When working with finance, we can assist upstream with product catalog configuration and with the create, renew, upgrade, and add-on pathways. To learn more about how Navint can help your organization create or improve a recurring revenue model across the front and back office, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.