Are you selling a "complicated" product/ SaaS?

This question is for folks who are already selling a complicated product to solve a complicated problem. So, think “Accounting system” not HTML editor.

What approaches are you taking to deal with a selling a complex solution to a complex problem?

  • Do you offer trials?
  • Do you do webinars?
  • Are videos helpful?

Am I missing another approach?


I’ve realized, after 20 years of success!, that our product (speech therapy software) is a complex service. Or, at least it 's complex to get started. They have to know which of our 19 programs to start with and at what levels. (So, it’s hundreds of possible “starting points”). Normally a speech therapist would actually need to diagnose them. Even with a diagnosis they have to translate that into that starting point.


  1. Our software treats speech & language Deficits. That means hundreds of possible scenarios. This is a Non Trivial Challenge. Normally a skilled speech therapist with 6 years of schooling and hundreds of hours of practice would do a diagnostic evaluation. I’m trying to guide them through this. So, non-trivial.
  2. The user doesn’t understand which Deficit they have. They have a hard time even describing them clearly. (E.g., if I ask “does the patient have difficulty thinking of the right word to say” and I’ll get a reply " No. They know exactly what they want to say, they just can’t say it". I do now have a standard set of questions I ask in an interview. But even then, they often don’t understand and I have to ask the question again in another way to confirm.
  3. Even when the user understands the Deficits they don’t really know how severe they are.
  4. If we can get through all of that then there is the issue of selecting the right programs and choosing the right difficulty levels. (This is where we could improve the software. But that is a non trivial problem as well. And it does not solve problem 1-3.)

Current process

  1. They answer some questions in a form and we recommend some programs.
  2. But it’s very easy for them to answer incorrectly for the reasons above.
  3. Downloading and installing and running the programs is a lot of steps and easy for them to get lost of just abandon one.
  4. Even though people who get through #3 run the risk of trying the wrong program or the wrong difficulty level (too easy “this is not helpful” or too hard "this is frustrating) and then thinking that is how ALL the levels and ALL the programs are. (I hear this a LOT despite having reminders everywhere “there are OTHER programs”.

The good news is that they are so hungry for help that our LTV easily supports my spending 30 minutes with them. And I love doing it. I get to see my software helping them.

Currently we have a free trial but I am planning to remove that and replace with:


[View Demo] ----> Page that asks: Does your survivor want more therapy?
(we just sort of store that answer).

Then we show a questionnaire where they choose what they need.
Show a list of programs, with demo video of each one.

If they answered qualifier question above, Y, then we we offer a free Tour button next to each program.
Takes to page that says " Signup for a free Tour. We’ll email you when the next ones are available, or subscribe now, get a free Tour as soon as you like, first week is free"

Can you give us a link to your site?

Wow I had a look. Your product options are insanely complex. Also the site design is really dated.

If you are doing it 20 years you must be going well but I would strongly advise you to simplify your offering and modernise the design.

Also the brand name sounds a bit cheesy. Does not sound professional. Sorry to be blunt but typing on my phone so no time to sugar coat it.

Do you think you are missing out on sales? I could be completely wrong. Sites like old designs like Craigslist and let’s run are really popular. If you are making loads of sales ignore everything I said :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’d like to stay focused here.

I think the site design is modern enough. It converts fairly well to folks trying the program.
We’re actually really well known after 20 years, so no plans to change the name. And it’s part of our story (which I’ll be emphasizing a bit more in the coming months.

The product offering is complex specifically because what folks need is complex, unfortunately, which is why we’ve moved to a subscription model (get 18 programs, $39). Making that clearer is “on my list”. Which leads us right back to my original question about doing away with free trials and only providing Tours.

Any thoughts on my original question?

I’m not following - “free tour” is a one-one-one conversation with the prospect? Sounds too time-consuming, no?

I’m not fully understand your question tho. Let me try and rephrase:

  1. You want to get rid of trials (why?).
  2. You want them to sign up right away - OK, no other choice as trials are gone.
  3. But the product is complex, so they would sign up, don’t know what to do and give up.
  4. So as a sign-up procedure you lead them thru an orientation program where they’d choose their goals and the package that fits them best.

Is it correct?

Makes sense then. What are your reservations?

However, I would let them sign up first and only then lead them thru the orientation package. I think this way less people would drop in the middle of the orientation (not sure if this problem is real for your prospects - you clearly give them “aspirin, not vitamin”, so they may not be as inclined to drop as say Trello users).

Only providing tours would be extremly time consuming for you and would cut your sales as not everyone wants the hassle of sitting through a personal tour.

If you are moving to a subscription model why not just give the first month free?

Also I have never seen a business yet were users prefer complexity.

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I removed the link. Let’s just focus on my questions. I am looking for general approaches not so much specific analysis of what I’m doing.

I added a section to the original post. Take a look. It explains the issues an a bit more detail.

  1. See above. LTV easily supports a free tour and I enjoy it. (Also gives me feedback on the program). They can still subscribe without a free Tour. And in fact, many folks sign up without a trial or Tour. That’s fine. If they’ve committed $ they are more likely to stick with it AND they know I’m a phone call away. (Think of how likely you are to go to a gym you PAID for).
  2. yes, first month is a great idea. We already give first week free. I want to reserve the first month free as a one-time offer.
  3. Yes, everyone prefers simplicity. But I’m responding to the complexity of the problem. See my update to original post.

Not really sure how we can help. If you enjoy the tours and you think it works for you then keep doing it :slight_smile:


I’m looking for what other people selling a complex product (or solving a complex product) are doing.

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I don’t think many are selling anything close in complexity. My current product is complex - or so I thought until today - but nothing close, and the prospects know their area enough to understand what do they want.

It is clear that you cannot just throw the users onto the site and expect them to navigate to the right program. Questionnaire is a dead end, it seems - since the users cannot reliably correlate their condition with the questions.

So it seems you need a human during the onboarding. Someone has to help them - be it you, or a trained professional, or a trained support staff. I do not see a way around it.

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My experience is selling complex stuff to large enterprize… I am particularly interested to this thread as my current saas work (have one paying customer, just starting) is quite complex as well…

I am thinking youtube videos… Website that has as first frame on home page an introductory video… that video should direct you to subsequent video pages depending on the path required…

I think video is a great way to take people step by stem into a complex thing…

Just 2 cents…

Not sure about this. Hard (and expensive) to do right, too generic, time consuming, you name it.

We were asked (just a few times) to share onboarding videos but it didn’t work so well: too customer specific, too long, etc.

What is working for us (and especially for our customers) is well-maintained documentation.

The most frequently updated section is “Tips and Tricks”: basically answers to the actual questions asked by the customers.

I would agree for onboarding video might be difficult in your case… ETL/data integration is very customer specific… I find that videos for software products are time consuming but not that hard to do well… I am a youtube millionaire (million views… not dollars … lol) so I think that medium is a great seo/marketing platform…

Did you try translating your tips and tricks into video format? I would think they would be useful on the marketing side…

ETLWorks looks like an interesting platform… nice doc… I guess good documentation reduces customer service as well.

You might be right but to be honest there is just no time. 10 minutes to write a simple step-by-step instruction and click deploy button in Jenkins vs at least an hour capturing the video, dealing with encoding, publishing, etc. Additionally, there is a convenience of copy and paste (for end-users since they can copy and paste the fragments of code from the doc). We do reference doc articles in marketing materials and social media posts.

Does each of your users need to start with the exact same thing?
(.e.g, if you were showing them this Discussion Forum then the answer is yes: Learn go view the posts, pick an interesting one, read it, comment)

In my case, every user has a different collection of needs, and a different starting point. And if I start them at the wrong point they may have a bad experience and give up.

I think a key thing here, for us at least, is that the user is very motivated and excited at they anticipate the solution. Think about someone joining a gym. They’re super excited. Then they jump on a machine, use it wrong, pull a muscle, and now their first experience is painful and frustrating.

What if, instead, while they are anticipating how good it’ll be, if you start asking them questions about their goals.Based on their answers you find a good machine for them to start on. We’re just trying to create a positive first experience.

This is what I do when I’m selling in person. I don’t even mention the product at all for 5 or 10 minutes. I find out what their needs are.I stumbled on that by accident. Just seemed obvious. Part of that was actually trying to DISQUALIFY the customer ASAP. But it turns out that this establishes rapport, trust, etc. AND it increases the odds of a first positive experience.

I read The Ask Method by Ryan L…

I know there is a LOT of marketing hype out there, but I really think his approach is a good one for selling something complex.


BTW, this is an example of the Exercise Fail:

Please consider not to remove the trials. Instead, you could put a big green button saying “Want better results quicker? Our qualified specialist is there for YOU for free”.

Regarding removal of free trials, I highly recommend to keep them. Please imagine the following scenario: you come to a store and instead of seeing bunch of products, there are stickers everywhere that say: “Please contact our merchandiser first. Answer 10 questions and maybe we’ll show you a product”. What will a sane person do? Right, he will run away and never come back.

Not necessary. She may have pain-in-the-butt sickness, and so cannot sit. Then she’s just being creative in working out the same muscles in a different position.

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