Techopia Live at SaaS North: Kinaxis CEO on breaking down enterprise customer ‘skepticism'

Selling at the top level requires proof and patience, Kinaxis CEO John Sicard told Techopia Live this week on the sidelines of SaaS North.

Sicard was a keynote speaker at this year’s annual conference for software-as-a-service companies in Ottawa, where he shared Kinaxis’s secrets to selling to enterprise-class customers the likes of Honda, Toyota and Johnson Electric.

“There’s one unifying attribute when you sell at that level, and the word that comes to mind is ‘skepticism,’” Sicard told Techopia Live.

For Ottawa-based Kinaxis, which helps companies manage their supply chains through its RapidResponse software, landing major customers is about patience – the company’s sales cycle usually stretches up to 18 months – and proving it can get the job done. Usually, the firm will have to pilot its software with the client’s own data in a proof of concept trial before being able to close the sale.

“What distinguishes us is that we lead with proof, not PowerPoint,” Sicard said. “You can never ignore what you’ve witnessed with your eyes.”

Though Kinaxis is doubling down on its Ottawa hometown – the firm is building out a new headquarters in Kanata West to accommodate its growth – Sicard also emphasized the importance of getting boots on the ground in your enterprise customers’ regions of business.

With a customer like Toyota, Kinaxis had to prove it was making an investment in the Japanese market with local sales and support staff in the region. It also means localizing sales tactics, as the Japanese style of selling often involves going through third parties.

“Part of this is understanding, ‘How does business happen in Japan?’ You’re not going to change it – this is a very old culture – so you have to embrace it,” Sicard said.

To hear more of Sicard’s thoughts on enterprise sales from the floor of SaaS North, watch the video above.