Navigating the world of enterprise SaaS sales is akin to steering a ship through uncharted waters. The old maps of traditional sales won’t serve you here. High-value deals, extended sales cycles, and complex decision-making units add up to a challenging but rewarding process.
This article aims to shed light on the intricate strategies that can elevate your SaaS sales. You’ll learn about the 7-step SaaS sales process and a few proven tips that’ll increase your success in selling SaaS products.
But first, let’s go through the basics first.
What is SaaS Sales?
SaaS sales is the process of selling web-based software through a subscription-based pricing model. Because most SaaS products require quite an investment, the SaaS sales cycles might be lengthy. It can range from one to six months. This duration depends on your pricing, the complexity of your product, your market’s competitiveness, and the free trial you offer.
No one method works for all SaaS businesses. But, you can prevent common blunders by learning the best practices and effective sales methods for SaaS companies.
In the next section, we’ll discuss why SaaS sales is different from traditional sales and how to tailor your sales approach to this unique sales model.
Why SaaS Sales is Different From Traditional Sales
Selling SaaS products is different from traditional sales in several ways. First, SaaS products are subscription-based, meaning the customer’s commitment is ongoing. Focusing on closing the deal is not enough. You must keep nurturing the customer relationship to increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Second, SaaS sales require a comprehensive understanding of the software and its features to communicate the value proposition to potential clients effectively. It involves ongoing communication and client relationship building, which is a critical part of the SaaS sales process.
SaaS B2B products are not cheap, so pricing isn’t your selling point. You need to market the value of the product. The better your offering, the more chances you have of attracting an enterprise SaaS audience.
The SaaS Sales Process
As you can tell by now, selling SaaS products differs from selling traditional software and physical products. For this reason, the sales process requires a different approach. Below are the steps to follow to sell SaaS products effectively.
1. Generate leads
Creating leads is the first stage in the SaaS sales process. Focusing on helping your target audience rather than trying to sell to them is one of the most effective B2B SaaS marketing strategies. However, lead generation takes different shapes depending on whether you’re targeting B2C or B2B clients.
For B2C, mass lead generation makes the most sense since you have a limited customer acquisition budget to work with. So, producing content that addresses the problems of your intended audience and promoting it via numerous platforms works best here.
There are plenty of lead-generating methods and distribution channels that prove to be effective for B2C SaaS. These include content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, webinars, and organizing live events.
GetResponse, a subscription marketing platform, is one SaaS company that uses multiple techniques to generate leads. Its website has a ‘Resources’ tab with many insightful articles, webinars, and other educational content for its potential and existing customers.
Visitors can also subscribe to GetResponse’s email list and try out its product on a free trial basis.
Moreover, the platform has an effective SaaS video marketing strategy. They create helpful videos for multiple platforms, including social channels like YouTube.
The goal at this point is to produce content for the different stages of the marketing funnel to attract and nurture leads. This would then bring you to the next step of the SaaS sales process.
On the other hand, B2B SaaS brands have a bigger budget to work with. Not only that, but they’re also targeting organizations with complex decision-making processes. This necessitates a more advanced lead generation strategy.
List-building works best here. Essentially, you need to create a list of the companies that fit your ideal customer profile. You can do that by looking at the Fortune 1000 and 500 lists and looking up companies that just raised funding.
In addition, you’ll need to identify the key decision-makers within those organizations. So you’re looking for relevant department heads, depending on what your product does. From there, you’ll need to get their contact details and start qualifying them.
2. Qualify your leads
After generating leads, the next step is to qualify them. This involves determining whether the leads fit your product well and whether they have the budget to purchase your subscription.
Qualifying your B2B SaaS leads requires a combination of data analysis and communication skills. You can use these six filters to grade your leads:
- Funnel filter – use your lead magnet opt-in forms for this to ask the right questions upfront. You’ll be able to find the prospects’ employee count, revenue, industry size, role, etc.
- Behavior – track customer interactions with your website, i.e., what pages are they looking at? Keep an eye out for leads jumping between your landing pages, pricing page, and about us page.
- Challenges – find out how immediate is your lead’s requirement for solving their problems. Is it a ‘now’ or a ‘later’ thing?
- Role – find out who you are talking to. Is it the decision maker or someone lower in the business hierarchy?
- Authority – check if your contact has the authority to make a purchase.
- Product fit – determine if your solution solves the lead’s problems.
Fortunately, most of these lead qualification mechanisms can be automated. For example, you can use Google Analytics for behavior tracking. Your funnel filter can also automatically filter out leads who do not meet your criteria, leaving you with a list of qualified leads.
3. Connect with your leads
Once you have identified and qualified your leads, the next step is to connect with them. For B2C marketing, this is usually done through mass marketing campaigns like email marketing and retargeting ads. Again, you’re trying to connect with your leads while keeping your cost per acquisition as low as possible to turn a profit.
For B2B, one of the most effective ways to connect with enterprise leads is to network with them on LinkedIn. Reach out to your leads on LinkedIn and kickstart a conversation and relationship with your future customer.
Engage with members’ content by liking their posts and commenting. This will show people you are interested in what they have to say.
In addition to warm outreach, consider cold calling and email outreach to expand your reach. Directly introduce your business to leads through cold calling. Optimize cold email outreach for successful results.
For example, this four-part cold outreach email series from Alex Berman works really well.
I recommend combining multiple touchpoints here. You can start by connecting with the lead on LinkedIn. Interact with a few of their posts over a period of time before cold calling. You can also deploy an email series instead of cold calling or combine the two.
4. Pitch your product
After connecting with your leads, the next step is to pitch your product. For this, you can use an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a brief, usually 30 seconds long, description of your solution. It should be as short as an average elevator ride. Its purpose is to make a lasting first impression.
Make your elevator pitch clear and concise. It should explain what your product does and how it can help the customer. The pitch should focus on the product’s benefits rather than its features.
Your pitch should focus on answering the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What do I deliver?
- How do I do it?
- Why is it important to use my solution?
- Who’s my target market?
At the end of your elevator pitch, include a CTA you’d like to see the audience take.
Now, there are different formulas for writing an elevator pitch. The best practice is to filter through the options and pick a few likely to work best with your audience. Then, test those pitches in your meetings with potential customers and see which ones generate the best responses.
Elevator pitches work best when you’re targeting enterprise B2B customers. For B2C companies, webinars, and product demos make the most sense.
5. Address objections
Potential customers will have objections or concerns about the product during any sales process. Also, if a prospect has some, it means they are interested enough to raise them.
Common SaaS objections include cost, integration, and security concerns. Prepare a plan for any likely objection so you know exactly how to respond.
For example, if, during a product demo, someone says that your product seems too expensive, it’s probably because they do not see the value you provide.
You should help them quantify their pain points in terms of financial and labor costs. Show them how your product addresses these tangible costs. From this, you can discuss the impressive ROI if they subscribe to your product.
A sales objection allows you to understand your potential buyer’s struggles. You can use them to target people’s specific needs and build stronger relationships.
6. Close the deal
Once the customer is satisfied with the product and the objections have been addressed, the next step is to close the deal. This involves getting the customer to accept the terms of the sale and signing the contract for using your SaaS product.
After closing deals, the customers must be handed over to the account managers. The account managers should be introduced via email and then through a call, similar to what happens during customer handoff in account-based marketing.
7. Stay in touch with your customers
The final step in the SaaS sales process is to stay in touch with your customers. SaaS customers require more nurturing than other industries. An account manager must nurture the customer to maintain a smooth relationship and boost the CLV.
You should also have a system to track how active new customers are on your platform. This can help you detect customers facing issues while getting started. For example, Zapier has a system to identify the customers who have problems with the setup and sends them this pro-tip email before they even reach out for help.
Providing excellent customer service should be one of your priorities. This goes a long way in building relationships with your customers. A great customer relationship will ensure long-term success.
6 Tips To Sell SaaS Software Successfully
Selling SaaS software successfully requires well-planned sales strategies. Here are some top tips that can help you sell your SaaS products effectively:
1. Provide strategic demos
A strategic demo provides one of the best ways to showcase your software’s benefits and functionality. Your demo should be tailored to the prospect’s needs and demonstrate how the software can solve their specific pain points.
To run sales demos that sell, use this 8-step F.A.V.O.R.I.T.E. framework:
- F – Frame the pain. Introduce each product feature by establishing the pain it solves.
- A – Ask a question. After framing the pain, ask a pain-oriented question, like ‘How is your company handling this issue today?’ This will further establish what the feature will solve.
- V – Visualize the outcome. Tell your customers what they can achieve when they use the product feature.
- O – Orient everyone to the screen. Once you establish the feature value, get your buyers up to speed on what they’re looking at on the screen.
- R – Reveal the workflow. Present your demo, show the workflow that the feature enables, and how it solves a problem.
- I – Implant the value. After you show the workflow, state the value statement (again). Tell them what they’ll get as a result of using your product.
- T – Tell a story. People remember stories! Bring up a success story of how another customer is winning using the feature.
- E – Elicit a response. Ask a post-feature question to get people engaged. Try: ‘How does that compare to how you’re solving this issue today?’
Use your time wisely to help buyers better understand what they’re paying for.
2. Provide reasonable free trials
Offering a free trial can be an excellent way to show prospects the value of your product. It helps you attract new customers and build trust.
However, it’s important to ensure that the trial is offered for a reasonable period of time. It should last long enough for the prospect to evaluate the software fully. Usually, this ranges from a week or two to up to a month.
During free trials, you need to monitor usage patterns and collect feedback. Learn how prospects use your products and where they encounter issues. This tactic will help you improve the product, revise the sales pitch, and improve the customer experience.
3. Communicate with your users during free trials
During the free trial period, it’s crucial to communicate with your users regularly. This will help the customers understand your product’s features and benefits and answer any questions they may have.
If you want to establish rapport and increase the chances of conversion, you should invest in providing personalized support right from the beginning.
When the free trial is close to the end, send a polite reminder, like the one below from Balsamiq Cloud.
Notice how the company provides a way to contact support and allows users to download their projects so they are not lost after the trial ends. This earns them goodwill with their customers.
4. Create sale scripts and templates
Creating sales scripts and templates ensures your sales representatives present a consistent message to prospects. Everyone from your sales team, engineers, technicians, and other experts should speak with a unified voice.
You can include email templates, qualifying questions, call scripts, and closing techniques in your sales playbook. You can also add some general information about your customers’ industry, and the characteristics of your ideal customer profile, to help sales reps with their pitches.
Sales scripts and templates can also ensure that important details aren’t missed. Your sales reps can sell from a place of knowledge while maintaining consistent brand tone and messaging.
5. Upsell and cross-sell
Keep seeking opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to current clients. Suggest an upgrade to customers at lower subscription levels. See if your current customers could take advantage of more features and or expand the number of users, etc.
You can also sell complementary products or services. For example, a company that offers employee monitoring software could cross-sell a document management tool to its existing customers.
Upselling and cross-selling can significantly increase revenue and provide more value to your customers. By understanding your customers’ needs and pain points, you can offer additional features and services to help them achieve their business goals.
6. Monitor your performance
Track and analyze your sales performance regularly. This will help you identify when something isn’t resonating with your audience.
One key metric worth tracking is customer churn. Monitor your customer churn rate regularly to determine whether customers find value in your prIn addition, it’s. It’s a best practice to survey churning customers to identify the reason behind churn.
The graphic below shows other sales metrics worth monitoring.
You must be flexible enough to adjust your saas sales plan based on new data and insights.
SaaS Sales FAQs
The average SaaS sales cycle is close to 84 days, according to a report by HubSpot. However, the exact B2B sales cycle will always vary depending on the complexity of the product and the size of the organization, and the competition. Long free trial periods and high annual contract value (ACV) of a deal could lengthen the sales cycle even up to six months.
The stages of a SaaS sales process include lead generation, lead qualification, connecting with leads, pitching the product, addressing objections, closing the deal, and staying in touch with customers. It’s important to note that the SaaS sales process isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Your sales process may differ based on your product, target audience, and industry.
Selling SaaS products requires a unique approach that differs from traditional sales.
To begin with, it’s crucial to generate leads using various techniques, like content and email marketing, hosting webinars, and live events. Then, you need to qualify and connect with your leads. Cold calling and email outreach can be useful for connecting with potential customers.
Having an effective pitch and addressing common objections is crucial to successfully selling your software product. Closing the deal is not the end of your efforts. An account manager should stay in touch with your customer to maintain a smooth relationship and boost CLV.
Once you understand the process, you can use these tips to increase your chances of success selling SaaS products: provide strategic demos, offer reasonable free trials, and communicate with your users throughout the trial. You should also create sales scripts and templates, upsell, cross-sell, and monitor your performance to learn if your sales tactics work.
The key to success is understanding your customer’s needs and providing value at every stage of the sales process.
Over to you.
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS marketing agency. He works with enterprise SaaS clients like Writer, Right Inbox, and Surfer SEO, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.