Enterprise software deals slower to close as macroeconomics hit IT departments

Picture of longer sales cycles, more deliberation, enterprise upgrade challenges emerging across industry

Enterprise software deals will take longer to close for the rest of the year as inflation and geopolitical uncertainty hit IT departments, according to ServiceNow CFO Gina Mastantuono.

Speaking to a Citi Group analyst, Mastantuono echoed concerns of fellow large software vendors Salesforce and Workday who both presented evidence of a deal slowdown in their recent financial results.

"We are assuming that the elongated deal cycles or the increased scrutiny on deals and approval processes will continue through the remainder of the year," she told investors, adding that the company had already taken the trend into account in its revenue guidance.

"Because we know now that approval levels are going a bit higher, we are spending a lot of time with our customers really ensuring that the business value proposition is there that they have all the data they need to make sure that approval process is running smoothly."

In July, ServiceNow saw its valuation dip after it cut its sales outlook for the year. It is now expected to grow to between $6.915 billion and $6.925 billion, down from the $7.03 billion estimated in April.

Salesforce too has seen sales cycles stretched. Speaking to investors following its Q2 results, Marc Benioff, co-founder and CEO, said: "We see customers becoming more measured in the way they buy. Sales cycles can get stretched. Deals are inspected by higher levels of management." Salesforce was taking a "very deliberate" approach to hiring after it missed analysts' expectations for revenue growth, CFO Amy Weaver said on an earnings call.

At the end of August, Bloomberg reported that Palantir, Workday, Zoom, and many other technology companies were seeing a similar trend among enterprise customers.

Earlier this week, Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo said there were indications of customer buying caution ahead. "We do, however, see signs of increased diligence of purchases by enterprise customers, resulting in some lengthening of sales cycle."

This week we have seen further evidence of a slowdown in wider tech spending as consumer confidence dropped. ®

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