The Death of Enterprise Sales in Fraud Tech

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May 15, 2020 by Jimmy Fong

Check out our CCO, Jimmy Fong’s opinion about where the fraud industry is heading to, in terms of business and sales development.

There’s this famous 1995 interview where Steve Jobs explains how innovation dies when a tech company is run by marketing rather than the product team.

“…the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

For Jobs, this was what had happened at IBM, Xerox and Microsoft. And foreseeing that potential mistake allowed him to set Apple on course towards being what it is today: one of the most profitable companies in the world.

Hiding Poor Tech Behind Great Sales Teams

Of course, the tech world (and Apple itself) has tremendously changed since Jobs uttered these words, but they still ring right to me. Here is my very personal take on the topic:

The less impressive the tech is, the better the sales team has to be.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this model works wonders for some enterprise companies. And it is a testament to the hard work and skills of the sales and marketing teams.

But the problem, in my view, is that this model is both expensive and increasingly inefficient. Sales teams still operate under the Pareto Principle, where 80% of the sales come from 20% of the sales team.

And hiring a skilful sales team can be costly, especially in a talent-led market. But more importantly, I’m not sure it’s still possible to sustain that model in the COVID-19 age.

When Disaster Strikes

At the time of writing, we’re still very much in an age of uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Nobody knows what the business world will look like in a few months, and who the winners and losers will be.

But one thing is for sure: the pandemic is currently making it impossible for enterprise salespeople to do their job effectively.

How do you convince a prospect to choose your solution when you can’t meet them face-to-face? Build deep relationships without the T and E component? How do you get your name out when industry events are out of the question, and demos can’t be arranged in person?

An Age of Transparency

Another challenge of the traditional enterprise sales model: it’s massively lagging behind broader changes to customer buying habits.

Younger generations who grew up with the Internet aren’t just waiting for a cold call to start researching a product. They know where to look, whom to trust and understand the value of word of mouth and product reviews.

94% of millennials said brand transparency would make them loyal customers, and there are even questions over whether they respond to ad campaigns at all.

But the proof is right there with us right now: it’s unlikely you’ve heard of Slack, Dropbox or Stripe through cold calls: this is because these companies became leaders in their field by applying the principles of product-led growth.

The Power of Product-Led Growth

Product-led growth has been a buzzword in Silicon Valley for a few years now, thanks in part to Blake Bartlett’s work at OpenView. Mainly, it describes a go-to-market strategy that relies on high-quality products to attract and retain customers.

Here is what makes them unique compared with traditional sales models:

  • Easy sign up: PLG companies remove the firewalls placed between them and consumers. This is often reflected with a fast and seamless onboarding process.
  • Attention to UX and UI: the products must have the end-user in mind, with a focus on bleeding edge design, ease of use, and social connections.
  • Transparent pricing: no more hiding behind “contact our sales team for a quote”.
  • Deliver value ASAP: users must understand the benefits of the product quickly, and road test it immediately: like today.

When laid out like that, it almost sounds like common sense. But here’s the thing: in my 13 years of experience with risk and anti-fraud tech, I had yet to see one fraud tech platform adopt that model.

That is, until now.

Turning the Anti-Fraud Industry On Its Head

Right now, SEON is the only anti-fraud startup to operate under a PLG model. But there’s still more we can do, and I’m thrilled to announce all the steps we’ll be taking in the future to:

  • Operate as transparently as possible: our pay/per request pricing model is available right there, on our website: no hidden costs, no shady upselling techniques. We’re weeks away from a complete self-serve model for instant email, phone and IP enrichment.
  • Full trial with no strings attached: you can try our Sense or Intelligence tools without convoluted, multi-year contracts which reduces the commercial risk and lets you see first-hand how SEON works for you. 30-day notice agreement. The proof is in the pudding.
  • Adapt to your business needs: we want fraud detection to be simpler, faster and more efficient. Which is why we launched our one-click data enrichment plugin for Google Chrome, and let you integrate our tools with complete flexibility. Use within minutes.

And of course: keep building killer products. None of the above would be possible without complete confidence in the quality of our fraud detection tech.

But you may wonder: will this SaaS model work with fraud prevention? There is no doubt in my mind it will. SEON is profitable merely 2.5 years after launch, and we just secured a seed investment of €1M for the upcoming year. 

So yes, at SEON we’re fraud fighters. But we’re also working hard on making it easier for every business to grow safely and with complete peace of mind. And I can’t wait to show you how much better we are at it than the old guard of risk prevention companies.

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Jimmy Fong

Jimmy is the CCO of SEON and brings his in-depth experience of fraud-fighting to assist fraud teams everywhere.

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