Startup Positioning: Battle Process Change like DocuSign

I recently got an email from DocuSign with the subject: “How e-signatures are safer than wet signatures”. It made me wonder, why would DocuSign send such an email? E-signatures are ubiquitous; from job offers to house purchases, we e-sign most of our contracts. Doesn’t everyone believe that e-signatures are safer than wet signatures?

For context, DocuSign is the largest company in the e-signature market. It’s so dominant that its name is a verb. Its market cap is in the range of General Motors, the largest car company in America. In other words, DocuSign is winning.

So, why bother sending an email positioning against wet signatures? And why now?

Why position against wet signatures?

Every SaaS company has to position its value against the cost of “process change”. Process change is just a fancy term for “changing the way we do things”. For instance, my company has communicated over email for the past 20 years; why should we switch to Slack and retrain everybody? Wet signatures are simple, secure, and age-old; why should we adopt DocuSign?

Slack and DocuSign are examples of “behavioral process change” as opposed to “vendor process change” (switching from Skype to Zoom). A company changing deeply set customer habits needs to educate the market on the value of new habits and the risks of older ones. That is why Slack blogs goodbye to company-wide emails and DocuSign says e-signatures are safer than wet signatures.

Why position against wet signatures now?

Any company that successfully changes customer habits creates a massive category for itself. There is a huge “late majority” of processes that could adopt e-signatures. COVID-19 has been a boon for DocuSign. Its market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 31% by 2026. That means a whole lot of new people with old fears about e-signatures. That is why, seventeen years after its birth, DocuSign is still sending emails about why e-signatures are safer than wet ones.

Takeaway for startups

Every startup founder or executive can learn from DocuSign. No matter how many happy or passionate customers you have, the change you seek is neither simple nor without resistance. Go back to basics and message why changing habits is worth the cost. If DocuSign still does it, so should you.

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