How to create a better B2B buying and selling experience by connecting on value | Alex Smith - Cuvama
Why did you build Cuvama?
Alex: Cuvama stands for CUstomer VAlue MAnagement. What we are doing is we help B2B SaaS companies sell the value of what they do. In the world of B2B sales, many people want to communicate the value, the business value that they deliver, rather than just the product and the features and functionality. But although a lot of people want to do that, it’s a hard thing to do. Cuvama is focused on helping B2B sales organizations sell the value and outcomes rather than the features. We provide a SaaS platform that integrates with the salespeople’s CRM tools. We help them translate the features and functionality of their product into the business outcomes they drive for their customers.
Best Cuvama features
Alex: I shouldn’t talk about my features. I should talk about the value we deliver because we use our product. We engage and speak to other B2B SaaS, and we find a lot of them don’t have any documentation and don’t have anything written down about what problems they solve. We work with startups as they’re hitting that scale-up phase, as the co-founders have. Maybe they’ve got some investments, and they’ve e got to Series A any need to hire a sales team and scale?
A common problem for those co-founders is they’ve got in their heads, they know what their product is and the value it delivers to their customers. But when hiring ten new salespeople, how do you get those new salespeople to go out and discover and communicate the value? Our key focus is that it’s not always just a simple, repeatable thing. If it were a simple value proposition where you could just write it on a straightforward piece of paper, you wouldn’t need us. But where we fit is where we’re helping a company whose product solves different problems for different industries or different personas. Maybe the value it adds to the CFO in the end customer is other than the value it adds to the sales leader.
We help that leader codify that value proposition so a salesperson can go out and sell it. We make it easy for the salesperson, it’s integrated with their CRM, and they can click to create a discovery. They go through a guided process. We help collaborate with the customer so they can share access with the prospect. When the salesperson interacts with the prospect, they can invite the prospect to collaborate on the business problems they want to solve and the outcomes they want to drive. Then it becomes an ongoing success plan that flows into the customer department. At each of those points, there are several different areas where it often breaks, there are disconnects, or there are things that don’t work. Cuvama is helping smooth all of that.
Successful use cases
Alex: Our first customer is Zellis, a software company based in the UK, owned by Bank Capital. They have revenue of around £150 million to £200 million per year. There were about 50 salespeople, and I guess an excellent successful use case is they are using Cuvama in their sales process to make better discoveries with their customers, to uncover better each of the companies they’re selling to.
They use our platform to discover the specific business problems the company is looking to solve and map out the outcomes they want to drive. Then they turn that into a business case of how much pounds of saving per year or extra revenue it might be worth to that end customer. They’ve used that to drive an increase in their win rate. They’ve seen that where they make a discovery properly using Cuvama, they see a higher win rate and a more significant deal size. They find that they’re able to sell more modules and they’re able to sell more of their solution to their customer effectively.
Are you the first company to solve this problem?
Alex: In the world of B2B sales, the idea of value and a salesperson discovering the problem and then articulating the value that’s not new at all. That’s been for 20 years. You can go on Amazon and buy sales methodology books, of which there are hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of consulting companies focus on sales methodology, and they will all include some element of discovering the pain and communicating the value. It’s not new.
I have been in technology platforms for almost 20 years and have been trying to solve this problem. But there were a few significant differences. Many of them have focused on this problem purely as a sales exercise. You tried to use value to close the deal, but in the world of subscriptions, if all you do is win that customer, but then they churn after a year, you lose money. In the world we operate in now, customer value management is not just about selling the value to win the customer and close the deal and get. You have to ensure that that customer is then achieving value ongoing. It’s more of a lasting relationship, the way you engage with that customer.
Some platforms that have been kind of trained to crack this space for the last 20 years have had much more of a pure sales focus, while Cuvama and one or two others view this as more of a customer methodology. You start with sales, but it has to flow into customer success, and that’s the wrong way of doing it. You, a salesperson, need to discover the prospect’s problem first and go through a discovery process. It’s a conversation, and it’s not just rushing to dollars. It’s a long-winded way of saying yes or no. Yes, we have some competitors, but it’s still quite an immature space growing, and we want to influence how the market thinks.
What is your story, Alex?
Alex: I’m 43, and I’ve had a reasonable career role already. All of my careers I spent working with other software companies. Some UK-based, some US based, and some large public software companies. One particular was a company called Pros, which does pricing and revenue management systems for airlines and manufacturing companies and things. But also worked for at least one venture capital-backed San Francisco-based software company. I had a nice mixture of exposure to different types of software companies. I have primarily been on the sales side, and I’ve done a little bit of helping to implement software but mostly selling software for close to 20 years now.
And as I said, I started to get into this kind of newer value engineering. We have a customer value management platform, and often we will work with our users, who are often salespersons but sometimes value consultants. Many big software companies, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce, have dedicated value consultant departments now. I had that role at a couple of previous companies and started to get into that as well. That’s my background, and founding Cuvama was opportunistic. It was a subject that I was passionate about. I’m enthusiastic; I have a lot of passion for helping companies solve this problem and helping the customers in the market. This isn’t just about helping the software company to be better. It’s about creating a better relationship with the end customer. I’m passionate about this, and it excites me. It frustrates me that it hasn’t been sold for years before this. Then there was an opportunity where there was an opportunity to work with my co-founder, and a few things came together, and it was something you have to grab.
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