Are you a startup founder looking to drive more sales for your SaaS business? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the experts in the industry who shared their best tips and strategies on how to increase sales for your software-as-a-service company.
From understanding your customer journey, honing in on target audiences, and perfecting product demos – there is plenty of actionable advice here that you can use today! Read on to discover nine proven selling tips designed specifically for early stage online SaaS businesses.
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is critical when it comes to selling your SaaS product. Understanding who your customers are and their needs is crucial in crafting a compelling value proposition. By paying attention to the sentiment changes in your target market, you can gain insights into what’s important to them and adjust your messaging and targeting accordingly.
To get a comprehensive understanding of your audience, it’s also important to explore multiple personas before honing in on your target market. This will help you understand the different market segments, their pain points, and how your SaaS product can solve their problems. By truly knowing your audience, you can tailor your approach to their specific needs, making it easier to build trust and close sales.
2. Hire Smart
Hiring the right team is essential to the success of your SaaS sales. It’s important to measure twice before you act and bring in people who have been at that stage before and have the experience necessary to help you reach your goals. For example, you might value your top salesperson as a highly valuable asset, and you would be justified in considering them an integral part of the company. Promoting them to a leadership role, however, could ultimately backfire if they are not ready. It would be far better to target experienced leaders with the relevant skill set for your stage.
For instance, if you’re just starting to build your sales team, it might not be necessary to hire a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), but rather a seasoned sales manager with a track record of leading teams. Similarly, when it comes to sales representatives, look for individuals who have a proven track record of closing deals at your stage and your SaaS space and have a deep understanding of your target audience.
By hiring smart and bringing in experienced leaders, you’ll be able to hit your product-market fit faster and more efficiently.
Metrics are a crucial tool for tracking the success of your SaaS sales efforts and ensuring that you’re moving in the right direction. When you’re starting out, it’s important to be clear on the metrics you’re following, even if you’re not 100% sure what to measure.
To get started, focus on metrics that bring in new clients and help you reach your goals, such as lead generation, conversion and close rates. As you grow and gather more data, you can expand the metrics you track to include other relevant indicators of success, such as customer lifetime value and churn rate.
Some key metrics relevant to SaaS include: monthly recurring revenue (MRR), customer acquisition cost (CAC), churn rate, lifetime value (LTV), lead generation and conversion rates, and average deal size. By focusing on these SaaS sales metrics and using them to drive your sales strategy, you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions that will help you grow your SaaS business and reach your goals more efficiently.
Just remember to keep things simple, especially in the early stages, and not to overcomplicate your metrics tracking.
4. Choose The Right SaaS Sales Model
In SaaS, your success greatly depends on the sales model you choose. It dictates your ability to grow. How you convert leads into paying customers affects the chances of generating revenue significantly. Here’s how you can choose the right sales model.
- Understand the criteria for choosing your model. This can include who you’re selling to, whether you’re targeting individuals or organizations or whether you have achieved the product-market fit
- Know your ideal customer
- Analyse your competition
- Understand your startup’s positioning and needs
There are generally three sales models which you can choose from:
- Self-Serve Model (The Most Efficient): This model requires no sales team or activity but is, conversely, a system designed for customers to serve themselves. This is a product-led approach where customers sign-up for a free demo and they decide how or when to upgrade it. While it sounds very appealing, you will still need to figure out how to convert the signups into paying customers with almost no sales touch.
- Transactional Sales Model (The Most Scalable): This is the most common sales model where the SaaS sales rep uses a more personalized approach. The marketing and sales team are both involved in this model, where the marketing team focuses on lead generation and building pipelines, and the sales team work to turn those leads into paying customers.
- Enterprise Sales Model (The Most Complex): This model is the most complex and requires a dedicated enterprise sales team. It revolves around fostering customer relationships and typically involves higher risk and a longer SaaS sales cycle, but it can create a solid ground of revenue to stand on. You will want to graduate to this level instead of seeing the big money appeal and trying to jump into enterprise prematurely.
5. Enable Your Sales Team
Staying close to your sales team is essential for ensuring that they have the resources they need to succeed. It’s important to identify and comprehend their potential struggles, as well as their strengths so that you can support them in the best way possible.
One of the key ways to do this is to ensure that they have the essential tools and analytics in place to understand what is or is not working. This will help them to optimize their SaaS sales process and make more informed decisions.
For example, a SaaS company might provide its sales teams with access to customer relationship management (CRM) software that allows them to track leads, analyze their performance, and optimize their "sales process". Additionally, the company might also provide sales training and support to help the team understand how to best use the tools and analytics at their disposal.
By staying close to your sales team and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, you can create a more effective sales organization that drives better results for your business.
6. Don’t Be All Laissez-Fair With Your Sales People
One common mistake among SaaS companies is to assume that new hires are infallible, simply because they come with first-rate credentials and experience. While it’s true that these individuals are highly skilled and experienced, the early stages of a SaaS sales operation can be challenging, and even the best salespeople can have blind spots.
That’s why it’s important to check in regularly and ask the hard questions to understand if they are on the right track and to make course corrections before any issues escalate.
For example, you should schedule regular check-ins with your sales team to review their progress, discuss their challenges, and provide feedback on their performance. You might also use data and analytics to track their progress and identify areas for improvement.
By staying involved and actively supporting your sales team, you can help them overcome challenges and reach their goals more effectively. By doing this, you can create a high-performing sales organization that drives better results for your business faster.
7. Smooth Onboarding Process
Onboarding new sales members is an important step in building a successful SaaS sales operation, and it’s essential to do so as effectively and clearly as possible. You don’t want to wait until three months after a new hire starts to realize that they’re not performing as expected, only to find out later that they don’t fully understand your product, process, or expectations.
To avoid this scenario, it’s important to have a comprehensive onboarding process in place that sets your new SaaS sales reps up for success from the start.
An effective onboarding process might include several stages, such as:
- Introduction to the company culture, values, and mission.
- Overview of the product and its value proposition.
- Detailed training on the sales process and tools.
- Role-playing exercises to help reps apply their training to real-life scenarios.
- Ongoing coaching and support to help reps continue to grow and develop.
By following a well-defined onboarding process, you can help new sales reps get up to speed quickly, feel confident in their abilities, and start contributing to the success of your SaaS business as soon as possible. Additionally, you’ll reduce the risk of costly mistakes or miscommunications down the road, which can help you maintain a high level of productivity and performance from your sales team.
8. Your Marketing Strategy
One common mistake that many SaaS companies make is to assume that just because they have a marketing strategy in place, it will automatically drive results. However, this is not always the case, as there can be a mismatch between your target audience and the type of marketing and channels you’re using to reach them.
This can lead to ineffective marketing efforts and a decrease in sales.
To mitigate this, it’s important to regularly review your marketing strategy and ensure that your audience resonates with it. This might involve adjusting your messaging, adjusting the type of content you’re creating, or experimenting with different marketing channels to find the ones that work best for your target audience.
You can also consider conducting market research or customer surveys to better understand your target audience and what drives their purchasing decisions.
Other ways to mitigate this mismatch include partnering with industry influencers or thought leaders, fostering your own dedicated community, leveraging customer referrals, and using data and analytics to track the performance of your marketing efforts and make informed decisions about where to focus your resources in the future.
By staying close to your target audience and continuously refining your marketing strategy, you can help ensure that your SaaS business is well positioned to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace.
Pricing is a critical component of any SaaS business, which must be approached with an open mind, while fully prepared to adjust as required. To start, it’s a good idea to monitor market trends and see how your target audience is reacting to your pricing model.
You should also regularly review your key metrics and funding/bootstrapping goals to determine if your pricing is aligned with your business objectives.
There are several popular pricing models to consider in the SaaS world, including:
- Freemium – offering a basic version of your product for free, with additional premium features available for a fee.
- Subscription – charging a recurring fee for access to your product.
- Usage-based – charging is based on the amount of usage or the number of resources consumed.
- Tiered – offering different pricing levels based on the features and services included.
By exploring different pricing models and regularly reviewing your metrics, you can ensure that your SaaS pricing is competitive, sustainable, and aligned with your business goals. By keeping an open mind and being prepared to adjust as needed, you can help ensure the long-term success of your SaaS business.
Here are some examples of successful SaaS companies at various funding stages that SaaS founders can learn from:
- Warmly (Seed, Raised $4.9M) – Warmly is an AI-powered platform that helps people build better relationships with those that matter most by providing instant insights and context on everyone they meet within video meetings. By connecting to your calendar, Warmly makes it easy to learn about common interests and connections with customers, prospects, and teammates, helping you build rapport instantly over popular video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts.
- Skiff (Series A, Raised $14.2M) – Skiff is a cutting-edge collaboration tool that prioritizes your privacy by offering expiring links, secure workspaces, and password protection. With Skiff, you can collaborate on projects and share sensitive information with confidence, knowing that your data is safe and protected.
- Instabug (Series B, Raised $53.1M) – Instabug is a cutting-edge software company that provides mobile app developers with real-time testing services to detect bugs and errors throughout the application’s life cycle. Founded in 2014 and based in California, Instabug helps developers deliver high-quality mobile apps to their users.
- Retool (Series C, Raised $141M) – Retool offers a powerful platform that allows businesses to build their own custom tools without requiring any programming skills. With Retool, businesses can streamline their operations, improve accuracy, and focus on their core competencies while their development teams have the necessary tools to succeed.
- Vercel (Series D, Raised $313M) – Vercel is a cloud-based platform that offers developers an unparalleled user experience with a strong emphasis on optimal end-user performance. It features cutting-edge development tools and parallel computing capabilities, all in a serverless environment that delivers an exceptional managed experience for both developers and end-users alike.
These companies are not only successful, but they have also disrupted their respective industries by solving real problems and providing valuable solutions to their existing customers. SaaS founders can learn from their innovative approaches to product development, marketing, sales, and customer service, and apply these strategies to their own businesses.
In conclusion, SaaS sales can be a challenging but rewarding journey for startups. By following these eight tips, SaaS founders can increase their chances of success and build a sustainable and profitable business.
From understanding your audience and staying close to your sales team, to keep an open mind on pricing, these tips are essential for any SaaS founder looking to take their sales to the next level. By taking the time to implement these strategies, SaaS startups can position themselves for long-term success and grow into the next Warmly, Skiff, Instabug, Retool, or Vercel.
So, don’t be afraid to get started, roll up your sleeves and put these tips into action today!
About The Author – Zuz Kudelova
Zuz Kudelova is a revenue professional with deep experience in scaling up SaaS startups, having directly contributed to revenue growth from $500k to $12M over 4 years at GetApp (acquired by Gartner) and built both pre&post-sales and marketing organizations at TravelSuit, leading to its acquisition by the BCD Group in 2021. Zuz founded Salesmic – a B2B SaaS consultancy – where she channels her passion for establishing sales & marketing organizations, setting up Go-To-Market strategies and sales enablement.
Salesmic focused mostly on pre-series B companies and helped the likes of Slido (acquired by Cisco), Happeo, Codegram (acquired by Factorial), Mitiga, and Constru just to name a few at various stages of their GTM journeys. Zuz loves helping people develop their professional skills and is very passionate about management’s impact on employee performance. Zuz is a health software fan and enjoys brainstorming and finding ways to prevent or manage chronic diseases.