December’s entrance means a rush of annual SaaS renewals. And while year-end is undoubtedly crazy, finance and technology leaders shouldn’t just sign and send contracts that come up for renewal. Take a moment to consider all the SaaS contract benefits you can uncover.

The increase of December SaaS renewals

The end of the quarter (EOQ) and the end of the year (EOY) are milestone moments for enterprise software vendors. Shareholders want strong finishes and teams push hard to beat Wall Street or investor expectations. Software and SaaS renewals are key to profitability for them.

Salespeople have their eyes on bonuses, corporate trips for top performers, and commission accelerators. This means that generally, customers can get better deals at this time than at any other point in the year.

The reason why boils down to an industry compensation reality around “bookings”. Even though customers are buying a software service (SaaS), salespeople are still compensated by the contract value they secure in a quarter.

Bookings represent the commitment of a customer to spend money and are tied to the contract at the moment of signup. So even though the company doesn’t get your money (or receive “revenues”) until each month or later when your wire or payment is submitted, the rep gets the full credit right away.

SaaS vendors have different fiscal year dates and you need to pay attention to those if you want to take the opportunity of the end of the year contract benefits.

Increase of December SaaS renewals.
Based on our research we found that most 2020 SaaS renewals are being made in the 4th quarter.

As you can see we found an increase of SaaS renewals in the 4th quarter since many SaaS vendors end their fiscal year in December (see the graphic below). This means instead of just signing and sending contracts that are due for renewal you should take a few moments and take advantage of the buyer leverage described in the next section.

For easier finding, we gathered 10 well known SaaS vendors with their end of financial year dates.

10 SaaS vendors with financial year end dates.

SaaS buyers have leverage

The more sales an account executive can push into a quarter the better. By end of the quarter, they’re either behind quota and need to cram deals in, OR, they are ahead and want to take advantage of performance accelerators. Either way, the buyer has leverage.

EOY is a clean time for contracts to begin and end too. Companies like the financial and legal tidiness and often subscribe and co-term contracts accordingly. You’ll likely find this to be true inside your company too.

So this year as contracts come due, use reps’ EOQ and EOY urgency to your benefit and renegotiate accordingly. Find financial, performance, and service value opportunities to take advantage of as the quarter closes out.

SaaS contract benefits to find

#1. Double-check use. This has little to do with negotiation but remains the number one place to unlock the value in your SaaS contract benefits. As the year wraps up, review software applications and confirm that licenses are actually being used before renewing again. It’s not uncommon to have employees leave and their licenses never reassigned. Or, to have a department manager overbuy to take advantage of a one-time deal. No matter how savvy a negotiator you are, or how desperate a vendor is, finding and reducing shelfware will make the biggest financial difference as you clean up SaaS. An optimization tool like Cleanshelf lets finance leaders immediately identify available licenses, usage patterns, and owners.

#2. Negotiate variables like price hikes, auto-renewals or early termination fees. Every contract will have details that, when added together, become costly. For example, many vendors have baseline annual price hikes or onboarding costs. If you sense you’ll be with a vendor for the long haul, negotiate these. A rep will likely concede to CPI+2%, instead of 4% or 5%, to close you by year’s end. If internal changes may result in your company needing to terminate a contract before its end, negotiate a contingency. For peace of mind, consider negotiating off the standard auto-renewal terms and require the vendor to give you thirty or sixty-day notice prior to auto-renewal. At a minimum, this will give you some time to rationalize the value of the SaaS.

Some complex SaaS will have implementation costs or requirements. If the vendor has a services team, they may have a similar sales quota and EOQ/EOY urgency and be open to discounting. If you go to a 3rd party vendor, shop multiple.

Secure your Rights

#3. Reclaim service rights. Vendors have default terms for things like data policies. This relates to who holds your data after you terminate a contract or to assign GDPR responsibility. They also have contract language describing what reasonable service levels are for things like uptime, availability, and help desk response time. For companies with hardline policies on discounting, these areas may be opportunities to improve your contract. A little negotiating leverage may secure your rights to a data export or transition to a cloud data warehouse when you terminate. It may bolster an indemnity clause in case of a data breach or upgrade you to higher customer support and service class.

It is time to act now

Your year-end will be crazy, but it can also be cost-effective. Pause and assess your SaaS contracts. And while the rest of the industry is running around trying to close deals and get home for the Holidays, you can set up your company budget for new year success.

Your year-end will be crazy, but it can also be cost-effective. Pause and assess your SaaS contracts. And while the rest of the industry is running around trying to close deals and get home for the Holidays, you can set up your company budget for new year success.

Want to uncover your SaaS contract benefits and get a clearer insight into all your spending? Do you need data on all your licenses and usage from an easy-to-access dashboard? Contact the Cleanshelf team today and manage your SaaS with ease.

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