Salesforce, Hubspot, Zendesk, and other cloud-based software companies have disrupted the way businesses operate. To keep up with the competition, more and more businesses are turning to Software as a Service (SaaS) products. But what is SaaS sales?
As someone who’s worked in sales for a SaaS company, I often get asked this question. And it’s not surprising given that the term “SaaS” can be confusing. So let me break down what is SaaS sales for you.
Simply put, SaaS sales is when you sell access to software that resides on another company’s servers instead of selling traditional shrink-wrapped software that customers install on their own computers.
The benefits of using SaaS products are numerous including lower upfront costs, automatic updates, and scalability without extra infrastructure costs. However, there is one key challenge with Saas sales — how do you efficiently reach and convert your target market?
What is SaaS Sales?
SaaS sales is a type of subscription software that allows users to access and use the software from a remote location. It is a newer model of software that delivers software over the internet instead of through the traditional software installation process.
What is SaaS?
Software as a Service (SaaS) is different from other kinds of software for two major reasons. First, it doesn’t require the user to install it on their machine. Second, it can be accessed from anywhere.
The most significant distinction between a B2B and a B2C sales approach is that the former uses a subscription-based pricing scheme, which influences the sales process.
SaaS sales representatives play an important role in the success of the software by explaining its features and benefits to potential customers. To be effective, they must have a deep understanding of the product and be able to articulate how it can address the specific needs of their prospects.
SaaS platforms that target businesses and enterprises often require a high degree of customization. This can make the sales process for these types of platforms more complex.
SaaS sales can be a great way to earn a high income. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for SaaS sales specialists starts at around $78,898. This doesn’t even include commission!
If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding sales role, then selling SaaS products may be the perfect fit for you.
The rise of software-as-a-service platforms has revolutionized the way businesses operate. From email to storage, to project management, many apps we use daily are delivered by cloud-based services.
Selling software as a service (SaaS) requires a different strategy than other types of products. This article will explain what you need to know about the process, as well as a few tips to help you succeed.
Why is Selling SaaS Different from other Sales?
The more complex nature of a SaaS business has a great deal to do with why their sales are so much longer.
The sales process for selling software as a service (SaaS) is different from traditional product sales. This is because most software products, such as accounting or payroll, are complex, and involve multiple steps. They also require ongoing maintenance and support, unlike one-off transactions.
As a part of the sales cycle, a sales rep must educate a prospect on the capabilities of their product. This goes beyond what might be expected when selling physical products. If the prospect does not understand how to use the software, they may not feel comfortable investing.
This education is essential to building confidence in the product’s capabilities and investment potential for the customer.
The job of a salesperson is to first find out what the customer needs and then show how your product can help.
What are the Challenges of Selling SaaS?
Software as a Service sales involves several unique aspects, including the need to educate the customer about the product.
Subscription-based pricing models allow companies to regularly and predictably bring in revenue from their customers.
For companies, subscribing to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product is a considerable investment. If a company uses a service for many years, the cost of its subscriptions can add up to thousands of dollars.
As a result, signing up for a software service is a decision that many companies do not take lightly. Before signing a deal, a sales rep will often need to get approval from several stakeholders within the company.
The main challenge of selling SaaS is the time it takes to close a deal. Because there are often many decision-makers involved, and because each SaaS product has many features, it can take a long time for prospects to make a decision. This lengthens the sales cycle and makes it more difficult to close deals.
What are the Different SaaS Sales Models?
Choosing the right sales model for your SaaS business is key in determining how many sales reps you need and how they’ll be working with your customers, including the all-important close. This depends on the nature of your software and your market.
1. Self-Service Model
If you’re trying to sell a low-cost, high-volume product, the self-serve model might be a good fit for you. This works best for products that aren’t too complex and don’t require a lot of hand-holding.
This is an effective way to attract customers who sign up on their own. These individuals usually sign up for a free trial or free version of your product. In many cases, a salesforce is not needed for this model.
Most businesses don’t need a sales department if they offer a good self-service product.
2. Transactional Sales Model
Transactional sales involve selling software to small and medium enterprises over the phone.
The more advanced software, the more expensive it is. This also means you need more personalized attention, which would mean having a team.
Since sales reps can offer discounts, they are given a certain amount of freedom when interacting with clients.
By focusing your time and energy on the most qualified sales opportunities, you can maximize your efficiency, and make more sales and profit.
3. Enterprise Sales Model
At the enterprise level, a company sells expensive, specialized products such as analytics tools or social media monitoring tools.
Because these products are specialized and large-scale, sales professionals typically need to invest a lot of time with their potential customers.
During this lengthy sales process, sales reps will meet with stakeholders, conduct demonstrations, and answer questions, many of which will be highly technical and complex.
For enterprise sales, you must have a strong technical understanding of the product or service you’re selling. This knowledge will help you close deals with large organizations.
When selling to enterprises, remember that their budgets are often much higher than those of small businesses. This means you can usually get away with charging more for your product or service but be aware that the sales process can take a lot longer.
4. Free Trial and Demo
Offering potential customers free demos of your product is a great way to convince them to buy.
But you’ll need a strategy to make your free-trial offer worth your while.
The length of your trial should depend on the complexity of your product or service. A seven-day trial of a simple or low-cost product is standard.
Enterprise-level software solutions, such as CRMs, often require a 30-day trial, while more consumer-oriented services, such as streaming or gym membership, usually require a shorter 14-day period.
During longer trials, it’s wise to keep in touch with your prospect. This helps you gather their feedback and keeps them engaged.
When conducting demos, it’s important to not overwhelm your buyers with too much information.
Your sales team should do some research on their target customers before doing their sales presentation. This will allow them to tailor their pitch to problems their customer may be facing. When their sales pitch feels more relevant to their potential customer, they are more likely to be successful.
5. Monthly and Annual Subscriptions
Most SaaS companies sell both monthly and annual plans, but how do they differ in the sales departments?
When selling to small businesses, it’s always best to let your customers choose whether they want to pay for your product every month or on an annual basis.
Subscription-based businesses benefit greatly from annual contracts, as they help to reduce cancellations, as well as provide better cash flow.
If most of your customers are small business owners, consider offering a monthly subscription plan. This will make it easier for them to budget and commit.
On the other hand, enterprise clients usually prefer to pay annually for their subscription services. This is because they already have the budget set aside and it’s a headache to reconcile monthly invoices. Paying annually upfront can save the enterprise client both time and money in the long run.
When creating your call plans, make sure you’re offering the right type of plan to your audience. If you’re not sure, try both types.
Five Factors Influencing the SaaS Sales Cycle
- Type of customer
- Entering new markets
- Product type or complexity
- Price of product
- Trial periods
The Stages of a SaaS Sales Cycle
The sales process is the journey from prospect to closing a deal. Understanding the process is key to making an accurate forecast.
- Prospecting: At this point, your marketing strategy does most of the hard work. Your content marketing, social media marketing, and online advertising all play a huge role in getting in front of your target audience.
- Qualifying: It’s important to distinguish between promising and non-promising website visits and free trials. You can accomplish this by implementing lead scoring systems, which automatically collect and analyze data about your prospects. Another option is to have your sales team contact new customers immediately after they sign up for a free trial, so you can gauge their interest in your product.
- Presenting: Here, the goal is to get on the phone with a qualified prospect and discuss their specific problems and how your product can help solve them.
- Handling Objections: After your pitch, your prospective customer may express concerns about the product or service. First, your rep should listen and try to understand their concern. If the concern is that the product doesn’t fit their needs, your representative should then probe further to understand their issue. If the issue is that the price is too expensive, your salesperson should then explain the value of your product or service.
- Closing: This crucial point in your sales process is when your prospective client decides to become a customer. The best way to do this is to avoid giving discounts, which can encourage customers to haggle with you and cost you money. You could try giving them a free trial, or a month for free if they pay upfront for a year.
- Nurturing: After closing, you should continue to engage with your customers. Offer them helpful support, a comprehensive training program, and any related products or services. This will keep users engaged for a longer time.
Skills to Master in SaaS Sales
Mastering the stages of your software sales cycle can be the deciding factor between beating out your competitors and falling behind. These are the three skills you need to master to be successful at SaaS sales.
Identify Key Buyer Personas
Before you dive into selling, you need to fully understand who your customer is.
Trying to pitch your software to the wrong company can waste a lot of your time and money.
The ideal customer profile (or buyer persona) is an important tool in lead generation. By identifying the characteristics of your ideal customers, you can better target your marketing efforts.
When identifying your key buyer personas, you should consider their title, role, responsibilities, age, key influences, where they fit in the buying process, and pain points for their particular interests.
As you collect data and filter potential customer contacts, you’ll be able to target the right people within the right organizations. This will help you race ahead of your competition.
Create Positioning for Your SaaS
Today’s buyers are skeptical of old-school marketing and advertisements and rely more on reviews and content from their peers. To capture their interest, you need to position your product or service.
Your marketing team should create content that answers common buyer questions such as:
- How does your SaaS service meet their needs?
- How does it fit within their budget?
- Is it cheaper than alternatives?
- How will it impact their profit margin?
- What makes it different from the rest of the market?
- Is it more customizable or does it have a more innovative approach?
- Is your implementation and customer success service more hands-on than that of competitors?
By providing answers to these questions, your SaaS company will stand out from competitors, and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to close deals.
Develop Inbound Marketing Content to Fill Your Pipeline
If you’re not already using inbound marketing to attract and engage your target audience, now is the time to start. Here are four reasons why inbound marketing should be a key part of your lead generation strategy:
- Inbound marketing techniques help you attract more leads.
- Inbound marketing helps spread awareness of your SaaS offerings.
- Inbound marketing helps you collect invaluable data.
- Inbound marketing simplifies the process for both your marketing and sales teams.
Because clients that come to you through inbound channels have already gone through some of your marketing material, they’re generally more ready to close the deal.
Enable Your Sales Team
A solid sales and marketing strategy is useless if your teams are not properly equipped to do their work.
If you want your sales team to be successful, you need to enable them with the right tools and training. Give them the knowledge they need to convert leads into paying clients, and provide them with technical support so they can do their jobs properly. By investing in your team, you’ll set them up for success.
Provide them with comprehensive training that covers not only the features of the product but also how it can address the customer’s specific needs. Additionally, give them the tools they need to close the deal, such as sales demos and up-to-date sales content. Finally, make sure that technical support is readily available to answer any questions that may come up during a meeting.
By following these tips, you can enable your team to sell your product more effectively.
Run Playbooks and Programs
You now have leads to come in and the sales department is hard at work, but your work isn’t done yet. You’ll now need to optimize your process, and to do so you’ll need to adopt the mindset of constant improvement.
There are some excellent strategies for improving your sales processes.
- A/B testing
- Capture customer feedback
- Perfect your playbook
These can reduce costs, improve resource utilization, and shorten the sales cycle.
Create a Dynamic Sales Pipeline
Having a strong sales funnel is the cornerstone of any successful B2B company.
This workflow not only streamlines your operation but also provides the data and information needed to make informed decisions (as opposed to guesses).
When creating your sales pipeline, be sure to keep compliance in mind, track your leads, and use robust tools to increase efficiency.
Now that your sales team has all the knowledge, tools, and workflows they need, they can begin closing deals. This is the most challenging part of the SaaS sales process.
When it comes to closing a deal, remember that mastering the previous steps in the sales process can make things easier for reps. Customers who are better informed and have a better understanding of your product will be more likely to make a purchase.
This stage of the SaaS sales process includes signing the deal and collecting payment. This can be done via a variety of payment methods, such as monthly subscriptions or discounted yearly contracts. By offering different payment options, you can cater to your client’s preferences and close the deal.
Measure and Optimize The Process
Analyzing your sales funnel and constantly evaluating your process is integral to maximizing your return on investment and minimizing costs. In today’s business world, data is king, and utilizing it effectively is critical to success.
If you want to improve your process, you need to take a few steps. First, ensure that the data you’re collecting is high-quality.
Second, fit the data to the corresponding metrics. Don’t shove your data into metrics where it will do more harm than good. Let data drive design, not the other way around.
Finally, utilize technology to reduce manual data collection and analysis while mitigating the risk of human error.
As the SaaS market becomes increasingly competitive, it’s more important than ever to have a sales process that is not only successful but also continually improving. By setting out a plan to measure and optimize your process, you can ensure that your company not only survives but thrives in this volatile market.
As someone who’s worked in sales for a SaaS company, I can attest to the fact that selling software as a service is not always easy. However, the benefits of selling SaaS products are numerous and businesses should consider making the switch. If you’re looking to learn more about what is SaaS sales, be sure to check out our blog post on this topic!