Have you created a well-defined SaaS startup sales strategy for your company?
The answer, for many SaaS (software as a service) businesses, would be no. Of course, everyone uses sales techniques to acquire new customers, but only a few have a clear and well-documented sales strategy.
With the global SaaS market growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 17.7% (2017-21), you’d think that you don’t need a formalized sales strategy. After all, if the market is growing that fast, good SaaS products should really sell themselves, right?
What you fail to account for is that a majority of this market is dominated by SaaS giants like Microsoft and Salesforce.
Image via Synergy Research Group
So, even though the market is growing rapidly, it is still highly competitive for new SaaS startup companies. As a SaaS startup, you need a solid sales strategy to get those first few customers, who are probably using a similar product.
The question is:
How do you create a winning sales strategy for your SaaS startup?
That’s what this post is all about. In this post, you will learn an effective process to create a sales strategy for your SaaS startup company. So, let’s get started.
A 7-Step Process to Create a Successful Sales Strategy for Your SaaS Startup
Here is a step-by-step process that you need to follow to create a robust SaaS startup sales strategy to grow your SaaS company.
1. Understand Your Sales Cycle
The first step towards creating a successful sales strategy for your SaaS startup is to understand the sales cycle of your company. Depending on the cost of your product and your target market, your sales cycle could be short or long.
Why is understanding the sales cycle important?
You need to understand that there is no one right strategy for all SaaS startups. Your sales strategy will depend a lot on the length of your sales cycle and how easy or difficult it is to acquire new customers.
So, how can you determine what your sales cycle looks like?
Well, it mostly depends on your product and its price. Keep reading to learn more.
Low-Value SaaS Products
If your product subscription costs anything less than $5000 a year, it is safe to categorize it as a low-value SaaS product. For such products, the sales cycles are short as these do not require a lot of investment.
In fact, a majority of such products work on a self-service sales model where a prospective customer might check out your website and directly subscribe or try it. As long as you provide all of the necessary information on your site, there would be no need for a prospective customer to contact you.
Moreover, if you offer a free trial option, then your sales teams will not even need to get involved as your website will do that job for you. So, the startup sales strategy for your SaaS company will revolve mainly around conversion rate optimization of your website and inbound marketing strategies.
High-Value SaaS Products
If you’re offering a new, innovative, premium SaaS product, then it makes sense for you to price that at a premium rate. However, your target market will contract due to premium pricing and the length of your sales cycle will increase.
What will be considered as a high-value SaaS product?
Well, there is no hard and fast rule but anything south of $100,000 per year is a premium product with a long sales cycle. But, what about the products that are priced lower than that and higher than $5000? Well, those are mid-value products and we will get to them later.
For high-value SaaS products, your sales team will need to connect with prospective customers using go-to-market strategies and close the deal.
Think of such SaaS (software as a service) products as an enterprise-level B2B software solution. Your SaaS startup sales strategy for such products should be along the lines of a typical B2B sales strategy.
This means, going through the entire sales process of lead generation, lead nurturing, and conversions. Your sales team will need to be highly involved in the sales process. Boosting conversions and enterprise sales will be more difficult.
Medium-Value SaaS Products
These are probably the most difficult of all and probably that’s why many experts term this market as a startup graveyard. Business owners and marketers often fail to accurately determine which sales strategy to follow for selling such products.
Should you go for a self-service business model or go full throttle with a dedicated sales team? Or, is there a middle ground?
The answer, we’re afraid, is not that simple.
But, there’s a way in which you can solve this dilemma. Think about how easy or difficult it is for you to sell your software solution. It does not just depend on its price, but also on the nature of the product.
Let’s understand this with an example.
Maybe your product price falls on the lower end of the spectrum, let’s say around $10,000 per year. But, it is a niche-specific, technical, and innovative product that people need to be informed about.
In this case, you will need to provide product demonstrations, explain the benefits of your software solution to prospective clients, and make them understand why they need it.
For many innovative products, there were no existing markets. The company had to target personas that were likely to be interested in their product to create a market for it. Similarly, you might need to offer more than a free trial to lure customers and acquire them. Your sales teams will need to play an active role to boost sales and company growth.
Similarly, for products that are slightly costly but self-explanatory, and have an established market, your SaaS startup is likely to have a shorter sales cycle. All you need to do is market your product well and establish it as superior to other products in the market.
To conclude this section, we would like to say that understand your sales cycle before you formulate your SaaS startup sales strategy.
Pro Tip: For mid-value products, create a customized sales strategy using a mix of SaaS sales models.
2. Define and Understand Your Target Audience
The next important step towards creating a sales strategy for your SaaS startup is to define your target audience.
Are you targeting enterprises and need to sell your product to the decision makers of large companies? Or, can your product be used by individuals like bloggers and influencers as well?
Understand who your target audience is and remember that you can have more than one buyer persona. Your software solution could be good enough for an enterprise as well as a small business. So, clearly define your target audience and then create your SaaS startup sales strategy keeping your ideal customer groups in mind.
Pro Tip: Conduct in-depth competitor analysis to understand your target market and customers. Also, identify the inbound marketing or sales strategies your competitors leverage to boost enterprise sales.
3. Create a Sales Funnel
Once you have a clear understanding of your product and who your prospective customer is, you can create your SaaS sales funnel.
A sales funnel is basically a visual representation of all of the stages that a consumer goes through when buying your product. It usually starts with generating brand awareness and ends with a sales conversion.
Need an example?
Let’s say a consumer saw a social media post or ad about a cool SaaS product that might be useful to them. They clicked on the link and visited the website to check out the product and its benefits.
They saw that the product was indeed useful for them, did some online research to compare it with other products, and then made a purchase.
That’s a short and simple sales funnel that includes leveraging social media marketing tactics, lead nurturing, content marketing, and conversion optimization.
A shorter version of this cycle could be when a consumer is already interested in making a purchase and does online research. In this case, they might read comparison posts, consider their options, choose your product, and visit your site to make a purchase.
There can be many different ways in which you can bring customers to your website and each would constitute a different sales funnel. So, design your sales funnels and use different marketing tactics to attract, engage, and convert consumers into customers.
Pro Tip: Use popular models like AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, action) to create your sales funnels and then customize those according to your business.
4. Use Content Marketing to Generate Leads
One of the best ways to generate leads for your SaaS startup is to use the right content marketing tactics. Content creation and distribution should be the focus of your sales strategy.
Almost all prospective customers conduct online research before they invest in a product. For SaaS businesses, it is quite beneficial to have good online reviews and listings in comparison posts.
But, how can you get that?
You can always pay bloggers and influencers to mention your product in their in-depth review and product comparison posts. You can start an affiliate program and have them promote your product on various platforms.
The more positive online mentions and reviews you can get, the better it will be for your SaaS startup. Also, don’t forget to ensure that all such mentions direct traffic to your website.
Remember, this is one strategy that is common for all SaaS companies, irrespective of the type of product they sell. Content marketing is the holy grail of marketing for all SaaS startups and should be the core of your marketing and sales strategy.
Pro Tip: Pay the best industry experts to create sponsored content for you and make sure that yours is the first link anyone finds when searching for a similar product.
5. Offer a Trial or Demo
This is another common SaaS startup sales strategy but is especially important for companies selling low-value SaaS products. After all, for these products, the entire strategy to generate individual and enterprise sales revolves around getting more people to sign up for the free trial.
Beginning with effective lead generation tactics, you should focus on bringing more and more people to your website. Then, you win them over with your highly-optimized landing pages and encourage them to try your product.
Once they try your product and find it valuable, chances are that they will upgrade to a paid subscription as well. That’s the sales strategy that most SaaS startups follow, especially if they have a low-value product.
Offering a free trial is also a good option for increasing enterprise sales of mid-value and high-value SaaS products. It’s just that your team has to try harder to get people to sign up for the free trial.
That is why product demos work better for such SaaS companies. If you have a premium SaaS product, do include a product demo option in your sales strategy.
In this case, your goal would be to get people on your website and pique their interest enough for them to book a product demo. Make sure that it is extremely easy for anyone to book a demo directly from your website.
See, for example, how Salsify has added a “Request a Demo” call-to-action button right on their homepage.
Image via Salsify
Someone from your team doesn’t always have to provide a live demo and can also create a demo video for your prospects to watch. This sales strategy can work well for SaaS startups that sell low to mid-value SaaS products.
Here’s an example of a useful demo video by SurveyMonkey. You can create such videos to help your prospective customers make informed purchase decisions.
Image via YouTube
Many SaaS startups also opt for a freemium model where they offer a lifetime free plan. However, it works only if you have a product for which users will want to access more features.
Don’t adopt a freemium sales model if people can keep using your free plan with certain limitations and might never need to upgrade.
You can offer a freemium version of your tool with something like a limited number of reports or a limited number of email recipients. This will encourage people to upgrade to scale their efforts and business growth.
Pro Tip: Use free trials and demos to prepare your prospective customers to make a purchase and then direct them towards the next stage.
6. Close the Deal
This is probably the most crucial part of your entire sales process as this is where conversions happen. By now, you should have enough leads ready and prepped for making purchase decisions.
But, how can you close the deal?
Well, that again depends on the type of product that you offer and that’s why we have divided this section into two parts.
Curious to learn more?
Here you go:
Closing the Deal for Low-Value SaaS Products
For these products, the one thing that you need to focus on the most is conversion rate optimization. Use CRO techniques to optimize your website and landing pages as most of your conversions happen there.
Here are some strategies that you or your team can use to close the deal and get people to buy your product or at least try it:
- Design visually appealing and engaging product pages.
- Clearly explain what your product does and how it can help them.
- Mention the price upfront and also justify it by detailing all of the product features.
- Encourage prospective customers to try the product for free.
- Alleviate concerns by clearly mentioning that they can cancel their subscription anytime.
- Show comparison between different plans in terms of usage limits, features, etc.
- Use the right CTAs throughout your website.
Try these CRO strategies to ensure that your website visitors try your SaaS product at least, if not directly buy it. Once you get people to enroll, provide them with a best-in-class user experience and turn them into paying users.
Closing Deals for High-Value SaaS Products
For premium products with longer sales cycles, your goal should be to set up a call or meeting to discuss requirements on an individual basis and give a product demonstration.
So, you need to provide plenty of options to your website visitors to be able to connect with your sales team. Live chat, request form, email address, and contact information are some of the ways to go about it.
Once you finally have the meeting then it is up to your sales team to convince the prospects about why they should buy your product. Your team has to convey the same information (features, benefits, etc.) as mentioned above, but in person.
Pro Tip: Train your sales executives well, especially on how to give a great product demo, and you should be good.
7. Provide Great Customer Service
Your job is not done once you acquire a customer. For SaaS products where users need to continuously renew their subscriptions, the sales process is ongoing.
So, for SaaS startups, even customer service is a part of sales strategy. You need to train your team to provide exceptional customer support to make sure they remain loyal to your brand.
Pro Tip: Assign a point of contact or relationship manager to each client and make it easy for every customer to be able to contact you.
Q1. How do I succeed in SaaS sales?
A. Understand the market and your target audience well to formulate a solid sales strategy for your SaaS startup. Use consumer insights to succeed in generating SaaS (software as a service) sales and keep learning from your experiences.
Q2. What is a SaaS sales strategy?
A. It is the basic process that you follow to get more sales for your SaaS startup. It includes understanding your target market and then finding the best ways to target and engage them.
Q3. How much do SaaS sales reps make?
A. It differs from company to company and country to country. However, you can get approximately $50K or more per year. You can earn a lot more from commissions.
Q4. How do you make a SaaS startup sales strategy?
A. Follow the process mentioned above to create a winning SaaS startup sales strategy. Here’s a quick recap of the key steps:
- Understand your sales cycle.
- Define and understand your target audience.
- Create a sales funnel.
- Use content marketing to generate leads.
- Offer a trial or demo.
- Close the deal.
- Provide great customer service.
Q5. How do you generate SaaS leads?
A. Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate leads for your SaaS startup and should be at the core of your marketing strategy. Get lots of free or sponsored content published on authoritative websites that link back to yours.
Q6. What is B2B SaaS?
A. B2B SaaS brands are companies that sell products targeting other businesses as clients. It’s like any other B2B business, just with a SaaS (software as a service) product.
Q7. What is SaaS Digital Marketing?
A. It refers to the digital marketing techniques that you use to sell your SaaS (software as a service) products.
Q8. Why is SaaS marketing different?
A. It differs from regular marketing because the end objective is usually to get people to try your product. So, rather than selling a product, you sell a subscription with SaaS marketing.
Q9. How do SaaS companies work?
A. SaaS companies work on a subscription model where customers pay a monthly or annual fee to use a product or platform.
Q10. How do you grow a SaaS startup?
A. Ultimately, it all boils down to how satisfied your customers are with your product and customer service. Keep providing an excellent customer experience to boost the growth of your SaaS business.
If you want to grow your SaaS startup, you need a clear and well-defined sales strategy. You can’t shoot arrows in the dark or use a trial-and-error method as it is a waste of time and money.
Use this post as your reference to create a solid sales strategy for your SaaS startup.
So, what are you waiting for?
Get started with it right now and create a customized sales strategy for your SaaS startup right now. All the best!