How to Sell Software as a Service: 15 Insider Tips for Top SaaS Startup Sales

SaaS is lucrative to many entrepreneurs as it’s in the early days of its potentially endless lifecycle with its prime time way ahead. 

However, SaaS is also an outright antonym of a quick buck. 

So how does one jump on this bandwagon that’s only left the station and heads to many exciting destinations while getting to the point of profitability quickest and with least resources?

Check out a few empirically-based shortcuts below to win back your time and spend less money.

What is SaaS?

What is Saas? First of all, one should know, that it is an acronym from Software as a Service.

Secondly, it’s good to jump to examples of SaaS you must have used so you can connect the dots quickest: Gmail, Slack, and DropBox are all examples of SaaS. 

Now, the final bit before the boring definition is the key differentiator: SaaS is cloud-based – it takes no effort on the user’s part to create it, manage it, store it or maintain it. Just pay the subscription and enjoy it.

Now, just as promised, the boring definition of SaaS for the geeks:

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a subscription-based model of delivering cloud-based software that enables a user to take advantage of all the benefits of the software without having to pay for its development, maintenance, servers, security and the like.

Major difficulties for any SaaS sales team

May those stumbling stones not be the graveyard stones for your budding business. 

Hiring the right salespeople

Are you looking for the IT talent on the Craiglist and HeadHunter? Consider hunting for the right talent on LinkedIn instead. A great salesperson is hardly ever out of job.

Using the Spray & Pray strategy

Buying a database of users and blasting them with emails is still practiced in the US, but is downright illegal in the EU. Nonetheless, even if you manage to get your hands on the high-quality email database and create the highly converting email marketing copy, this strategy is not recommended.

It may yield some positive results in the short run, but is a catastrophe in the mid and long terms. And yes, your reputation suffers too.

Resting on your laurels

Please, mind, the heading reads “resting on your laurels” and not “resting on your laurels too early.”

This is because there is no good time to rest on your laurels in SaaS – not after your successful series A, not after amazing series B, not when you are the number 1 in your niche world over. Your product is out there for all to try, hone, perfect, and exceed.

Question your product every day; evolve, innovate, and set trends. Sleep. Repeat.

Mistakes in Software as a Service sales process

We learned them the hard way & we invite you to read about them to avoid them.

You are welcome.

1. Geeks are the main course, sales are the seasoning.

You love coding, your beard is groomed by the best barber in the hood, and your neighbors think you’re wearing the same T-shirt you are wearing day in and day out, but you change them twice a day.

If you are a geeky type who has a great SaaS idea and the skills to code it up to a perfect state, you’ll need to get a strong salesperson on board anyway. 

Just like you wouldn’t return for a bland meal of boiled potatoes and unsalted chicken breast (even though they provide all the needed nutritional value), your potential customers will not buy for the code alone. They will have a hard time deciphering the USPs, the value proposition, the savings arising from your SaaS solution without a sales talent.

Geeks code. Sales teams sell. Easy as that. The one-man show is the shortest way to burn out and prompt business closure.

selling saas

2. Not following up.

If you don’t follow up just at the right time – you might as well not bother at all.

We suggest a BAMFAM trick: Book a Meeting From a Meeting. Whatever stage of the sales funnel you are at, make sure to book your next meeting while you are closing a meeting. This gives a perspective of the next step and rids your potential customer of the guesswork.

3. Missing the pace & sticking to the comfort zone

It is human nature to find the path of least resistance and follow it. It is in human nature to stay in the comfort zone. It is within human nature to be stuck in the era when you were young and beautiful and treat the next generations with a grain of salt.

The gist is to embrace every new trick in the book and to start using the newest technology the soonest. Become the early adopter of every new service so you can take advantage of the novelties, as opposed to handing them over to your competitors.

How to sell SaaS effectively: 15 tips for 2020

Sell solutions, not products

People selling products do their job.

People selling solutions care about solving the pains of their customers.

Simplistic? Yes. To the point? Indeed.

Make sure to always come from the highest regard to your client and their needs. Keep your finger on the pulse of their interest every time. Deep dive into their working day routines. Vivisect their needs and pains down to the Nano level.

At this stage, you know your product is good for them and their business. Your SaaS sales team is sure of it. You genuinely believe that this service will propel their business to new heights. Now you can sell the solution to their problem.

The same goes for b2b SaaS sales, but you can throw in some favorable perks to the offering.

The importance of mapping your customer’s journey

Do you remember how you took an international flight for the first time? 

Ok, so how long in advance do I have to be there? 2 hours? Or, it’s Israel, it’s 3 hours. 

What do I put through the screening machine? 

Where’s the check-in counter?

Regroup my overweight suitcase? 

The metal detector beeped? It’s the belt, of course! Sorry, guys. 

Now what? Customs? 

Taking off shoes? Why? 

Now passport control? 

Wrong line? EU citizens only?

What “medical certificate for yellow fever?”

selling saas

By the time you get to the most disgusting yet the most expensive latte of your life, you feel like a complete fool who has won some sort of survival sprint by chance.

When you develop a product, you immerse yourself into the product 100%, knowing all ins and outs. You start taking things for granted and stop questioning them.

While mapping the customer journey, you put yourself in the shoes of that first time at the airport when every arrow and monitor and gate sign was a Godsend. Make sure you know every step of your customer’s journey so you can ease it for them.

Use feedback regularly at every stage

Regardless of whether someone is a new client who is on a free trial, a brand advocate who keeps sending social media referrals to you, or a person who just joined the heart-breaking churn stats, there should be a feedback loop created for every case. 

Segment your clients as per the stage of their user-experience, frequency of usage, payment plans, an industry they belong to, or the plan they are subscribed to and create a ton of content that supports them on their path. The email that explains the value of your product for the novice adopters, the retargeting campaign that offers a sweet discount for an upgrade, and the social media mention for the hardcore proponent of the brand.

Keep looping back to your clients at all times.

Keep it personal in your email marketing

The SaaS email marketing solutions out there allow users to segment and drill down into the database of customers with the scrutiny of Sherlock Holmes.

Ensure your email threads are using a different tone of voice and messaging to different age groups, GEO, gender groups, interest clusters, engagement stages, and more. Make it about them, their needs, pains, and wants — not your product.

Know the true value of your Software as a Service

SaaS sales strategy starts and finishes with your sales team knowing the what, how, when, and how much – when it comes to the value of your SaaS product to the client.

This includes knowing your figures as well as finding the right words for the pitch.

Know your figures: 

industry statistics, global trends, existing customer success stories in % growth, the laughable achievements of competition. Every figure should be on the menu and ready to be taken out of the sheath for persuasion purposes.

Choose your words wisely

Your tone of voice, level of assertiveness (not too feeble and not too overpowering), a compelling CTA, an appropriate sense of humor, and a clear messaging of technical nuance… Words matter, and must be selected carefully for the best efficiency.

Onboard every client with a red carpet to lower the churn rate

Onboarding process depends on two factors:

  • How complex your product is.
  • How well-versed your client is in what they are doing.

How so? 

The more complex your SaaS solution is, the more time you will spend training and familiarizing your client with your software so that every tool is utilized to bring ROI on their investment. Talk about client retention in SaaS.

The less experienced your client is in what they do, the better results you can achieve by educating the client about the intricacies of the chosen niche during the onboarding process. Yes, that involves more work on your side, but that is a factory of creating loyal brand advocates. 

And yes, this is the right paragraph to remember that metaphor from above about first time experience on the international flight.

Take advantage of email tracking

Email marketing is still super alive and kicking. As ever, ROI is still one of the highest among all the channels. In fact, it’s so wired with all the new channels, only PPC is more effective as a good old email marketing.

Imagine if, despite all the Teslas and Azimuts and Cessnas around, a pair of horses and a carriage still did the job best. Unbelievable, right?

The great news is that this is where the money is, so the SaaS solutions of email marketing are truly rocket science. The complexity and the granular level of segmentation and data analysis that is possible due to the sophisticated email marketing systems, when used extensively, is amazing. 

Using email marketing SaaS solutions is like picking the low-hanging juicy fruit. 

Using the phone is an option

It is not a panacea, definitely not. But in many cases, a phone call increases the chances of conversion multifold.

Say your prospects live in rural areas and are 50+, chances are they may prefer a quick phone call to some digital channels that are overwhelming and may seem complicated for a digital immigrant.

selling saas

If you are looking for a quick qualification of your lead, a phone call is one of the best channels. Timing is important of course; make sure the person is not driving, eating, hungry (thus possibly hangry), or tipsy by the time you call for best results. Stay away from rush hour, lunchtime, and evening calls.

Use value-centered demos to convert

Keep it short. No one has time for long anything nowadays. A perfect demo is a 10-15 minute affair with explicitly stated, mouth-watering benefits.

Keeping it focused on the value is the ABC of a converting SaaS product demo — but never forget the XYZ of it: the CTA or the clearly explained steps that you and the client agree upon right there. You both should walk out of the meeting knowing the next stage of your cooperation and its timeline.

Benefits of short trials

If you keep a short trial period, you recruit FOMO as your agent. Users are urged to try every feature possible before the trial expires, so the focus is high.

A short free trial period also makes sure the product remains on the radar of attention and doesn’t fade away before the decision-making process.

Bump up that price

This one is a bit tricky. The second part of the advice is to bump up your subscription rate if you know your product is worth it.

Price dumping is shooting yourself in the leg and only works in the short term.

On the other hand, when you keep your rates up, you:

  • come across as more credible just because (anchor cognitive bias confirms this thesis);
  • deliver the message that you are confident the product will bring returns that will keep churn rate low even at a high subscription rate;
  • incentivize your team to work their brains off to live up to the high price tag.

This trick will not work if you are in the overly saturated niche with lots of similar established products or in the wrong time or place (ahead or behind the time and the wrong GEO).

Consider implementing discounted annual subscriptions

Everyone does it, as its cash in the bank and lower churn rate. On the downside of things, you get lots of money now and lots of contracted duties and services to provide for the rest of the year.

While deciding on the perfect discount for your annual plan, consider your competitive market practices, your standing in terms of value-for-money, your financial status quo, and your projections for the next year. By providing a deeper discount you may steal a bigger share of the annual subscription segment on the market, but this comes with the responsibility of careful planning of your expenses.

Think thrice about discounting

Discounting depends. Some cultures are geared towards discounting, so people put crazy price tags initially to provide the pleasure of successful bargaining to clients.

Sometimes discounts are a good strategy if your costs are really low and margins are high and volume matters a lot.

If you are in the lower end of the pricing spectrum among your competition anyway, discounting may hurt and it may hurt badly. As a rule of thumb, try to price position your product fairly and competitively to the market and only use discounting for XXL clients.

Invest in relationships to reap higher ROI

Train your sales team to be old fashioned in their relationship with clients. It’s not a touch-and-go operation; it’s a proper long-term reality in poverty and riches.

If you manage to embed that kinda mentality into your SaaS sales team’s minds, you are guaranteed to win every time for years to come. 

By molding a meaningful “we are here for you” rapport with a client, you decrease your churn rate, increase your market share, increase your upsell revenues, and have sky-high customer satisfaction rates.

Keep improving your email campaign

One of the most important answers to the question “How to sell SaaS solutions?’” is to optimize your email campaign. 

Wrong, my bad. 

One of the most important answers to the question “How to sell software as a service?’” is to keep optimizing your email campaign. 

Spammy yet highly engaging emails are an integral part of the high conversion of free trial subscriptions. The more the better, in fact. 

Are there SaaS sales tips for this occasion?

  • Make sure you use the name of a person in your dry email marketing. No info@ and hi@ and all that general cold email naming. 
  • Keep them busy with your emails. Try to get your users to perform an action resulting in the measurable KPI: be it a video view, a podcast listening or a book sign up.
  • Segment your emails as granular as you can. The more detailed and pertinent the email is, the higher the likelihood of the conversion is.

Did we mention that more is actually more in this case? 

If we did overlook this important detail: don’t be shy to send lots of emails to convert a prospect. One email a day is the bare minimum. 

Developing your SaaS sales strategy

This one is a long read in its own right, so we’ll keep it short here.

From what we have seen work for hundreds of our clients, to instill a proper SaaS sales process, entrepreneurs should work from inside out in terms of corporate culture construction and it is more efficient to work from outside in terms of product.

When you mold your sales team and work on your SaaS sales cycle, make sure that the right attitude is at the core of your corporate value stack. You build strong respect for the customer’s needs within, nurture it on all levels of the company hierarchy, so it can be easily extrapolated to the outer world. Your sales team should only go out in the fields or pick up a phone if they know they are about to change the lives of their customers for better.

selling saas

When you work on the product itself though, you start with the customer, hang around more, then come back for another chat and only then go back to your PC to create. Until you know the context of the situation, the pains, the goals, the frequency of usage, the priorities of your user persona, you have 0 business-building code.

This is how to build a sustainable SaaS selling strategy and how to sell software as a service ultimately.

How to sell SaaS solutions more efficiently? Use technology

It’s the 21st century. You know how SaaS works, you know the SaaS sales cycle too. You know the value of a well-developed tool for an enterprise. 

Now get on the other side of the equation and see what SaaS solutions could be of help to you.

Is there some cloud-based software that could help your sales team streamline their processes and give them a better overview of the sales process? Is there a SaaS offering to ease file exchange between partners and clients? Check out your biggest pains and see if there is a digital toll to address, streamline, minimize that pain of your sales team?

Well then, get your top people to try it for free ASAP. You may be leaving money on the table for no reason.

How Nimble can help you

Nimble is a simple yet powerful CRM tool for the SMB segment, that focuses on leveraging the power of the network. It combines the email contacts, calendar, social media, messengers, and business information in one platform.

It is a perfect CRM for Office 365 and G Suite Teams.

With digitally savvy companies like GoDaddy, Upwork, and Tableau choosing this CRM for their projects, you might also consider streamlining your SaaS sales processes with the help of this next-level digital offering.  

Free Nimble SaaS trial? Be our guest! 

Disclaimer: this networking-centered CRM is so intuitive and useful, that many customers find it addictive. Be prepared to take your sales team to Salesperson’s heaven. The place where all your communication is in one place and the helicopter level overview is the new norm.