How did you get customers to let you plug it into the heart of their business?

Answered by: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

Category: Marketing and Sales

In hindsight, we did pick off a big challenge. This is a very complicated product to build compared to the previous experience of building a CRM application. There was a lot of complexities back then because the whole concept of SaaS was new. There were no open source tools to actually figure out how to build scalable systems. But the product itself was much simpler compared to what we did.

And when we go in, it's got to integrate into an environment, There's something to be said for the naivete-ness and optimism of entrepreneurs. If we had known how hard it was, who knows if we would have done it or not. But once you're in there you've got to make it work. The lesson for me was a little different. I think there was a naive assumption in the early days that we would just take what we did at Salesforce and just do the same thing. It's another category. But just do the same thing. It's all gonna work out well.

What we realized early on was that we had a very different business model. At Salesforce, a salesperson can actually close four deals in a month. We're lucky if our sales reps close one or two deals a quarter. Luckily with our space and what we're tackling, there's an alignment between the complexity of what we do and how important it is. It has to work. And the alternative for companies wasn't great. It's not like they can throw bodies at the problem and solve this problem on a long-term basis. And it was a big driver of their ability to grow. What that translates to is that they're willing to pay more for it than our first few deals at Salesforce.

The combination of being seen as mission critical really allowed us to have enough runway to build the right product and then build the right supporting infrastructure to make that product successful with our customers.