How to Sell SaaS in B2B: Building a Strategy That Will Pay Off in 2024
Hitting big goals usually boils down to either an amazing stroke of luck or a super well-thought-out plan. And when talking about standout B2B achievements, a polished sales strategy becomes a must-do for every company in the game.
So, how come organizations spend more than 12 million U.S. dollars on the public cloud every year?
Let's break down the SaaS startup sales strategy: outline the essential steps and check out the top-notch tactics in the market. By the time you finish reading this article, you'll either confirm that you're rocking your service sales or gain a solid understanding of how to make a splash in the SaaS world.
What Does a B2B SaaS Sales Strategy Imply?
When we mention B2B (Business to Business), we're referring to a scenario where one company's target audience is other businesses. B2B SaaS (Software as a Service) implies providing a solution that other companies could use, for instance, if they need software to boost revenue, cut costs, save time, automate internal processes and operations, or solve specific tasks more optimally. This often means that the solution is customizable, has advanced functionality, many integration options, and extended customer support, which entails having a substantial budget.
Such SaaS is typically pitched to a company's specific managers, executives, stakeholders, teams, or departments instead of individual users. And since multiple decision-makers are involved, the sales cycle is generally more prolonged and intricate than in B2C cases.
Establishing strong relationships with potential clients is tougher in B2B, as you need to earn the customer's trust and convince them of the immediate and long-term business value of the SaaS. This is done via dedicated sales representatives or through product demonstrations, case studies, demos, and other tricks. Hence, a high level of personalization is required, leading to longer purchasing decisions and deal closing.
That's why in-depth analysis and research are a must to craft a detailed SaaS sales strategy. This principle not only holds water but is a crucial factor in catching the interest of businesses. To deliver something like that, you need to have a deep knowledge of your target audience's pain points and the market you're diving into.
Exploring these business intricacies will enable you to make a master plan that maps out a seamless buying experience for customers and applies the best tactics on how to sell SaaS, bring in new users, keep the existing ones, and increase your profits. Importantly, a strong B2B sales strategy generally includes a combination of sales techniques and marketing channels aimed equally at customer acquisition and retention.
Understanding the B2B Sales Environment
The B2B sales environment has unique differences that you must understand if you're looking to find out how to sell B2B SaaS solutions or improve your current results. Let's see how the B2B sales process differs from B2C at each stage.
Prospecting kicks off the B2B SaaS sales process. Invest time pinpointing individuals and companies that could be intrigued by your product or service. You can achieve this through diverse methods:
- in-person meetings and presentations;
- networking events;
- LinkedIn prospecting;
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM);
- customized demos and presentations.
In B2B, prospecting, just like all the other stages of the B2B sales process, tends to take notably longer compared to B2C. Yet, the more time you dedicate to a single partnership, the greater the chances of reeling in a significant catch like top SaaS companies do.
When it comes to generating leads in B2B, you're often reaching out to a crew of decision-makers in a business. Think executives, managers, IT folks, and even end-users. Wrangling them all together for a decision can be a bit like herding cats, but that's just part of the sales game.
Curious enough, educational content takes the spotlight as well. It's all about serving up valuable info that helps potential customers grasp the awesomeness of the SaaS solution. Deep-diving whitepapers, real-world case studies, and webinars that cater to the hungry minds of businesses will work best.
On the other hand, in B2C, the main aim is to connect with and persuade the end-user directly. There are multiple ways in which sales agent connect with customer like auto dialer where sales agents can keep reaching out to potential customers to make the sale or by crafting personalized email outreach for maximum impact. Here, it's all about making a direct impact and winning them over to your side one by one. Another option is casting a wide net with broad mass marketing strategies using online ads, social media blitzes, influencers, and promotions that aim to hit a big audience and grab the attention of individual consumers.
Qualification, in general, is the matchmaking phase. This is when you figure out if a potential client is a good match for your product or service and if they're ready to take the plunge and make a purchase.
Talking about B2B, the qualification process entails evaluating how well the SaaS solution aligns with a business's specific needs, taking into account factors such as integration, scalability, and relevance to organizational goals.
In B2C, the qualification process centers on assessing how seamlessly the SaaS product matches the individual consumer's preferences, immediate needs, and user-friendliness, often involving a shorter and more streamlined qualification process.
The nurturing stage in B2B involves fostering solid relationships with key decision-makers, sharing in-depth educational content, tackling concerns, and demonstrating how the SaaS solution consistently adds value to the entire organization.
In B2C sales, we're zooming in on individual consumers again, and the focus here is to spark their interest with tailored content, promotions, and personalized recommendations. The goal is to keep them hooked on the product, nourish loyalty, and maybe even uncover chances for upselling.
And finally, the X day. It involves the last lap of negotiations, handling any lingering concerns, getting everyone in the decision-making unit on the same page, and locking in the contract terms. The closing process will most likely mean adjusting the solution to fit specific business needs and ensuring a smooth implementation plan.
In B2C, the main goal of this stage is to make the purchase process simple and user-friendly, often online, where individual consumers can quickly decide based on factors like pricing, features, and perceived value. The closing stage puts a spotlight on crafting a quick transaction experience to turn interested users into paying customers.
B2B SaaS vs. B2C SaaS Sales Process
Below are the most noticeable differences between how to sell SaaS in B2B and B2C:
So, to wrap it up, the B2B sales process takes a bit more time, ropes in a bunch of decision-makers, needs extra sales hustle, and requires a good dose of adaptability — all geared towards keeping that one business partner happy and thriving. Either way, it requires building a seamless product, no matter if you handle it in-house or turn to a partner for professional SaaS application development services.
Building an Effective SaaS Sales Strategy: 9 Key Steps
And now, moving to the diamond of the article: a step-by-step plan on how to create a SaaS sales strategy that'll rock.
Step 1: Know Your Target Market
First things first: define your ideal business to partner with. You'll have to conduct an in-depth market research to define the:
- business size (e.g., SMEs or enterprises);
- geographic location;
- decision-makers and influencers;
- technology stack and compatibility;
- pain points and challenges;
- regulatory compliance needs;
- scalability requirements;
- integration capabilities;
- team- or department-specific needs;
- long-term strategic goals and objectives;
- existing software solutions in use;
- collaboration and communication preferences;
- level of technical expertise;
- procurement processes and timelines.
Seems like a bit of a challenge, and you're right, it sure is. But remember, in B2B, it's all about hitting the expectations and goals dead-on for that specific company. Don't shy away from putting in the time and effort to gather insights and make sure your product is precisely the one that tackles their challenges head-on.
Step 2: Identify Your Customer Avatar
Going a level deeper into the market. The next step of how to sell SaaS effectively is about finding the customer avatar (the guy who'll open the doors to the company for you). To pinpoint the exact type of person your sales efforts will be turned onto, you should define the following parameters:
- job title and role;
- demographics (age, gender);
- personal pain points and challenges;
- goals and objectives;
- decision-making authority;
- job responsibilities;
- key success metrics and OKRs.
You've got to get a clear picture of your target audience and the ideal customer profile (ICP). Selling a bookkeeping SaaS to a marketing manager just wouldn't hit the mark, would it? The better you understand your buyer persona, the higher the chances you'll deliver value that really clicks.
Keep in mind that the end-user of the SaaS is always an employee who stands to gain from your proposition, while the decision-making responsibility rests on the employer's shoulders. Aim true and make that shot count.
Step 3: Choose Your SaaS Sales Model
Depending on the type of your software and who you're selling it to, you'll have to use one of the basic sales models to decide how to sell SaaS product offers best. Let's split them down.
Customer Self-Service Model
In this setup of how to sell SaaS, customers can just jump in, sign up, and handle the SaaS product pretty much on their own. The sales part is all automated, and users usually don't need a ton of help from sales reps as the onboarding is strong and intuitive. This is common in SaaS solutions that are a breeze to set up and boast user-friendly interfaces. They generally have rather high-volume sales, affordable pricing, and are often available via a freemium. Giving a few examples, Mailchimp and Figma can be considered such tools.
Best suited for: Help desk and ticketing software, knowledge management software, e-commerce platforms, online learning and training software, collaboration and communication tools.
Transactional Sales Model
In the transactional plan, the aim is to swiftly seal the deal for products that are more expensive and have extra features. You'll see this a lot with SaaS products for SMBs such as HubSpot. Sales commonly happen through reps who do their best to establish long-term relationships with clients, as more personalization and customization are necessary.
Best suited for: customer relationship management, project management software, accounting and finance tools, human resources management systems, and marketing automation software.
Enterprise Sales Model
In the enterprise SaaS sales strategy, large companies or enterprises are the target. The pricing is typically high but value-based (the product's price depends on the value the customer gets), and the frequency of sales is low. Salespeople have to have in-depth knowledge of the product, demonstrated through demos and other means. The product has to be customizable, of course (an example is Salesforce). There are multiple stakeholders and decision-makers who have different needs, and all these moving parts stretch out the sales cycle, often hitting the 6-month mark or even longer.
Best suited for: enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, business intelligence and analytics, customer experience software, and enterprise content management.
Step 4: Create a Compelling USP
No doubts, but it's worth mentioning that your SaaS must provide reasons why businesses have to choose you rather than your competitor. Pin down your competitive edges and ensure everyone in the company is on the same page about them. They can be related to:
- how you deliver value;
- the benefits of the used technology;
- integration capabilities;
- security and compliance;
- user-friendly interface;
- continuous updates and support.
Your unique selling point, sales pitch, and value proposition are vital for all your marketing moves, so they've got to be well-crafted and shouted from the rooftops.
Step 5: Establish a Solid Sales Process
No matter how great your proposition is, it's still nothing if the target audience doesn't hear it. To properly direct your efforts to the interested market, the sales process should be as clear and high-quality as a waiter's services in Michelin's restaurant. Make sure you've done your homework on how to sell B2B SaaS the right way and prepared your sales reps for a new business day.
- Select the sales channel. Reaching various buyer personas often calls for different channels. Take a peek at your SaaS nature and figure out what suits it best: direct sales, online marketplaces, customer referrals, or maybe diving into partnerships and resellers. Or all of them at once?
- Formulate the sales cycle. The more crystal-clear your team is on what needs to be done and how to do it, the smoother the process will look to your potential partner. Don't forget to fight the common objections and concerns that tend to pop up at various points in the sales cycle.
- Prepare a sales playbook. This is your sales cheat sheet — a thorough document that lays out every move needed to secure the deal. Your playbook isn't just for mapping the sales process but also for indicating the key messaging, objection-handling tricks, and best practices to supercharge your sales efficiency.
- Boost your sales team's skills. Ensure they know the peculiarities of your product front and back, have the needed tools, and skills on the latest trends.
- Optimize and iterate. Fine-tuning the sales process is an ongoing gig. To stay on top of the latest tasks and market shifts, you have to be in the loop with the current sales tactics and approaches. That way, you can always tweak your processes to match the ever-changing B2B world.
Step 6: Leverage Technology as Aid
But there's more to boosting your SaaS sales strategy than the classic tactics, as technology steps in to lend a hand. Customization means nothing if the onboarding process isn't crystal clear. Don't throw your customer into the unknown wood of your solution and leave them to deal with it on their own. Some products like HiBob or Ondato can help you create a user-friendly onboarding process.
However, if the SaaS solution is custom and always different for clients, consider adding a support team that will lend a shoulder if your user faces a challenge.
Moreover, to keep track of the deals' status and stages, opting for a client relationship management tool is one of the best practices nowadays. Alongside video conferencing, sales engagement, sales intelligence tools, and AI assistants.
Step 7: Launch a Marketing Campaign
As we mentioned earlier, we're zeroing in on our potential customers or target audience. To sharpen your message, slice and dice your target audience into specific groups or segments, tailored to their needs and preferences.
Then, choose the most appropriate channels and ways to send your message (for instance, YouTube, LinkedIn, or other social media channels). The more people catch wind of your proposition, the stronger the trust your company builds. Yet, ensure that the sales and marketing processes are aligned.
There are a bunch of ways to get people talking about you, here are a few:
- Content marketing. Keep churning out top-notch, educational content that relieves the pain points and challenges your audience is wrestling with. Whether it's blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, or other content formats to support your B2B SaaS, this builds thought leadership and lays the foundation for trust.
- Webinars and online events. Throw some webinars and virtual shindigs into the mix to flaunt your SaaS solution, give live demos, and chat with your audience. While you're at it, scoop up leads during and after these events for some follow-up action.
- Social presence. Create a community vibe around your brand using forums, social media groups, or other platforms. Let your customers connect, swap experiences, and offer each other support.
To give your marketing a power-up, make the most of marketing automation tools. Automate tasks like email marketing, lead nurturing, and lead scoring, so you can deliver the perfect message to the right audience at just the right moment.
As usual, marketing is a constant process of doing, refining, and iteration. Keep a keen eye on the results of your marketing moves, analyze them, and make tweaks accordingly to see what works best.
Step 8: Build Relationships with Decision-Makers
Dive into research and uncover the key decision-makers at the company you're eyeing. Gather every ounce of data and organize it into one tidy spot to get a solid grip on what's keeping the major players at that company up at night.
Referrals are the most powerful trust-building tools. Maybe your previous client played golf with the CEO of the company last summer?
Once you've got that contact in your sights, pick the communication method that suits them best, whether it's video conferences or emails. You definitely don't want to be just another face in the crowd when trying to pitch something. Wrap your partner in genuine interest and care, and adjust your offering to fit their specific needs, make it personal.
Even after the deal, you should stay in touch with the decision-maker to build truly double-sided, long-lasting business relations.
Step 9: Keep Track of Sales Metrics and Performance
Money loves to be counted, so be sure you're snagging the key insights from the sales process. This way, you'll have a clear view of the current financial status of the business and be primed to anticipate any challenges that pop up. Keep these metrics and insights in check.
Now you're all armed to conquer the B2B SaaS market. But to give your SaaS sales strategy an additional boost, let's browse a few more useful and valuable tactics and tricks.
How to Sell B2B SaaS: 5 Winning Tactics
These sales and pre-sales best practices are tried-and-true tricks that most SaaS providers swear by to some extent. Get a grip on these, and don't hesitate to explore or even create your own, grabbing your own clients' feedback.
Create a Very Targeted Portfolio
As we mentioned above, trust is the holy grail in the B2B world. Success stories from your past partners are like rocket fuel for the confidence of prospects. When you're putting together a case study, spill the beans on the challenges your customers faced, how your genius solution swooped in, and the results that hit the scoreboard.
Replace 'Push' Marketing with 'Pull'
These days, savvy companies are making the shift from 'Push' marketing to its cousin — 'Pull' marketing. Instead of using paid ads and pushing for website visits, newsletter subscriptions, or app trial sign-ups, the focus is on crafting engaging content that naturally piques customer interest and sparks curiosity about what you're offering. This includes blog content, whitepapers, and other valuable materials.
Solve a Problem Instead of Selling Features
This principle is the basis and the core of any impactful and valuable business. No matter how sleek and versatile your app's tools may be, the customer doesn't understand how to use them. Switch from praising the features to the description of how they help your very segmented target audience and see what will happen.
Make Onboarding a Top Priority
We're pretty convinced that lackluster onboarding is a major player in the global churn rate hitting 13% in recent years. You surely wouldn't want your customers to bail on your app after the first login just because they didn't get the hang of it and couldn't figure out those fancy features. Make sure you've got a smooth, step-by-step introduction for newcomers to immerse them into your solution.
Offer Free Trials, Demos, and Flexible Pricing Options
Be truly versatile in your SaaS sales strategy and let your customers touch the dream you propose to them. The following tactics are widely used and appreciated by businesses:
- Free trials. Let your potential customer try your solution at no cost for a specific period of time to make them ensure that you solve their challenge. However, even if it's a free trial, you should treat the user as your regular customer when it comes to onboarding or support.
- Freemiums. Similarly, let them use your solution free of charge, yet only provide access to its part, saving the rest as a paid option.
- Different subscription models. Offer several types of subscriptions (e.g., monthly, half-year, yearly), highlight the benefits of each of them, and cases when they are best applicable.
- Upselling and cross-selling. Distribute the features and possibilities among different subscription tiers and make sure that your customer doesn't pay for any unnecessary functionality.
- Demonstrations. Show your customers how your product can solve their challenges. Again, talking not about the features, but the solution to the customer's problem.
By putting these tactics to work, your solution will be within reach for a broader audience facing similar challenges across different tiers. This not only cuts down on the churn rate for annual subscriptions but also eases up the sales tension, especially with those free demos in play.
SaaS Sales Strategy Major Takeaways
Crafting a strategy that'll be effective is a big deal, and it's a constant effort, especially in the realm of a B2B SaaS startup sales strategy. While we've touched on various aspects to ponder, the core principle every entrepreneur should hold dear is aiding their customer. A genuine drive to solve challenges and help people not only fosters goodwill but also uncovers fresh avenues for improvement.
If you've got an idea and are geared up to plunge into it with the support of seasoned professionals, our dedicated teams are all set to leverage their experience in launching SaaS startups to help you build amazing B2B products and reach new heights! Feel free to contact us to discuss your needs.