Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) requires a strong process in order to make sales and grow your tech startup. Here are 5 factors that sell SaaS.
When it comes to selling software-as-a-service (SaaS), don’t be fooled into thinking that because the technology is useful or innovative, it’s an easy sell. “The product I was selling has a complexity I had never seen in the corporate environment and, upon first inspection, was an easy sell that solved a clear need,” writes a former sales executive turned first-time startup founder. Founders are sometimes caught off guard by this disconnect, maybe thinking, “This is the greatest invention since sliced bread. It should sell itself!” Right? Wrong. What’s perceived as an easy SaaS sell is often times only successful if well-executed.
Here’s how to sell SaaS solutions the smart way, the way that Growthwright helps startup founders perfect and scale:
1. Define Buyer Personas
Learn the difference between early adopters and mainstream market buyers by developing buyer personas. These personas will anchor your sales process while you grow your startup, allowing you to adjust your sales strategy as needed (even telling customers no can be a good thing). Sometimes, early success will cloud judgement, leading a startup founder to believe that their SaaS product will easily scale to mainstream audiences.
But that illusion usually crumbles after round B funding, writes Bob Apollo, founder of Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners. At this point, early sales success is deceptive because it’s often a result of early-adopters purchasing your SaaS technology. Apollo points out that early adopters are different buyers than mainstream clients, meaning that what worked early on for a startup is often not a scalable sales strategy.
Early sales success is deceptive because it’s often a result of early-adopters purchasing your SaaS technology. This success is difficult to scale.
2. Establish a Scalable Process
Building on point 1, your SaaS sales process is shortsighted if it isn’t scalable. Early success doesn’t indicate that the process you used to achieve a sale will work once scaled. Instead, strategize and implement a sales funnel that works for your product. Your sales funnel should include processes around lead generation, follow-up, and closing.
You can optimize your SaaS sales funnel by focusing on dimensional activities, such as buy signals, using discovery call questions, and closing techniques that spark action. Don’t be afraid to outsource the development of your SaaS sales strategy, because often times this connects you with industry experts who know what works in a SaaS sales funnel and what doesn’t.
3. Focus on Value vs. Features
Technology innovators may be distracted by the “bright and shiny” aspect of creation. But pretty, feature-heavy SaaS products don’t necessarily translate to value, and without value, a sale is hard to make. While we agree that features are important, we advise that startups consider what value they bring to a potential customer.
Here are two red flags that indicate your lead isn’t perceiving your value:
Early Price Ask
Red flag #1: If a lead askes about price too early, it’s a sign that you’re not communicating value.
Single Feature Sale
Red flag #2: If a sale hinges on a single feature, then not only are you not communicating value – you might be misunderstanding the value that the lead is prioritizing.
4. Don’t Rely on Discounts
According to Close.io, “SaaS companies who rely on pricing to be competitive aren’t confident in their products.” Ouch. That hits close to home for many newbie startup founders and small business owners, right? The impulse that you can gain market share by undercutting your competitors on prices is understandable.
But aggressive discounting may have opposite the intended effect, according to the CRM-focused startup. “Pricing shouldn’t make your product competitive – value should. In fact, if you never lose deals over pricing, then your SaaS product is too cheap.”
Underscoring point 3, value-focused SaaS products lead to a pricing structure that tells your customers that the product you offer is incredibly valuable and worth the price you ask.
Aggressive discounting may have opposite the intended effect.
5. Make Buying Simple
Relying on long, complex processes in your sales cycle? Survey says, “no way.” That’s not what customers want. Just to clarify, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an advanced implementation protocol in place, or processes for client relations. What we mean when we say “Make Buying Simple” is that SaaS-based startups should be careful not to burden their clients or potential clients with inundated workflow processes that become wearisome.
What we’re talking about is startup marketing 101, but many founders struggle to wrap their head around how to differentiate between internal and external sales strategies. Avoid learning this lesson the hard way and instead consult with, outsource, or hire (depending on where you are in your company growth) sales and marketing experts who can develop a streamlined and “easy” sales funnel for your business.
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