Companies around the world are increasingly adopting software-as-a-service or “SaaS” tools as alternatives to purely in-house infrastructure and staffing.
SaaS offerings open up the door for immense savings and productivity boosts across every facet of an organization. It should come as no surprise that when faced with the prospect of significant savings and better business performance, leaders have chosen to lean into the SaaS trend, spending as much as $2,623, on average, every single year for each of their employees. Recent worldwide pressures have only accelerated this push towards cloud-based software, revealing ever more benefits for businesses that leverage SaaS services as a major part of their general strategy.
Remote working trends and a burgeoning need for greater flexibility—both in and outside of the office—are expected to fuel a continued surge in SaaS popularity. Traditional applications and activities involved in running a business have already been disrupted by the onset of a host of SaaS alternatives that do more for less and scale smoothly to match a company’s needs. This tidal wave of technological growth across a smattering of industries brings with it great potential for vast sales improvements among SaaS providers.
Sales in SaaS work differently than they might in most other industries. There are multiple sales strategies proven to work within this growing space and they can differ substantially in effectiveness, depending on various factors concerning the market and your business model of choice. Understanding the basic SaaS sales cycle and how it can be applied to your organization’s approach is integral to success at market and sustainable growth.
The basics of SaaS sales
Sales in the SaaS space revolves primarily around prompt and comprehensive service, as these factors help prospective customers ease into new, lasting relationships at higher price points. Both your organization’s sales and marketing division will likely need to learn to work together closely to ensure the optimal number of leads can be converted in a reasonable amount of time.
Once marketing and sales teams are allied, prospects can pass smoothly from the domain of the former to that of the latter, leading, step by step, from the start of the sales cycle to the end goal of gaining new customers. However, marketing teams must first capture prospects’ attention with relevant, intriguing messaging. Then, sales pros are expected to effectively convey the benefits of a given SaaS offering at key moments, emphasizing the features that would be of use to their leads before moving to close the deal.
This all reinforces the need for a longer sales cycle than would otherwise be necessary in the traditional software space. It’s also especially important for team members throughout your organization to be available to share more in-depth, technical knowledge whenever potential customers inquire about the inner workings of your system and its integrations. Training individual sales reps to possess all of the expertise needed to successfully close sales solo is a possibility as well, though it translates to higher compensation to keep top sales talent from jumping ship. Aligning details like this along with the rest of your company’s sales processes to mesh with the phases of the SaaS sales cycle can help in achieving better results at market.
The SaaS sales cycle
The SaaS sales cycle begins at first contact with a prospective customer and ends when that same customer has been acquired and onboarded. Ensuring this sales cycle progresses smoothly involves juggling communication, demos, special offers, and marketing materials as seamlessly as possible. Even with all of these details optimized, the full SaaS sales cycle can take more than a month to play out.
Your business’s SaaS sales cycle will have an average duration that depends entirely on a few key factors. These include:
The upfront and rolling costs combined to adopt your SaaS solution will definitely play a role in hastening or slowing the decision-making process on the part of your prospects. A hefty price tag practically guarantees potential customers will take more time to mull over their options and test the waters for better products. If your offering is expensive, then you’ll need to provide best-in-class support and guidance to convince prospects to partner with you.
Prepare to spend upwards of 100 days on leads if your prices are in the range of $50k annually or higher. Lower prices can dramatically shorten the amount of time and effort required to win over new clients. The common yet effective strategy of offering free trials to new prospects can work wonders in both high and low pricing scenarios. This way, leads can interact with your product before they commit to purchasing it or opening up a new subscription. However, for this approach to succeed, you should be prepared to offer comprehensive support and guidance alongside each demo of your software. Conveying value throughout the trial in a practical sense that your customer can readily appreciate can have a profoundly positive effect on purchase rate.
If your product is new, then you may need to stand up to steep competition, but if your product can be peddled to entirely novel markets, it may be met with a different kind of dilemma: confusion. Prospects in new markets might not understand what it is that your product can do for them. Communication is key here as they will need to be educated along the way to understand the full value you bring to the table. This tacks time onto the already lengthy customer acquisition process that you’ll need to account for ahead of time to set reasonable sales goals.
SaaS tools are often designed to solve complicated issues for enterprise-grade clients. In some cases, SaaS offerings abstract away the details involved in managing entire departments in-house by providing an all-encompassing cloud-based solution instead. This makes for incredible value from the client’s perspective, but it can also lead to ballooning software complexity. Complexity correlates with longer SaaS sales cycles. Helping your prospects navigate the intricacies of your service at every step can help speed up the process and win them over for future business
Even the size of your prospects’ organizations can have a noticeable effect on the length of time it takes your sales reps to onboard them. Bureaucracy may become an issue and multiple stakeholders will likely need to be won over before you can convert large organizations into paying customers.
SaaS sales cycle stages
Your sales cycle length—that is, the amount of time it takes your sales reps to close a given deal and convert a prospect into a paying customer—could be anywhere from a full month to an entire year or more, depending on the nature of your product and the market at large. According to a study by HubSpot for 2020, B2B SaaS sales cycles generally last 83 days or so.
The SaaS sales cycle can take on a variety of forms, but the following steps are generally integral to your sales team’s success:
At this stage of the process, new leads are first identified. This identification process is largely conceptual, yet it can prove to be of vital importance in the stages that follow. Essentially, buyer personas are to be drafted to help inform the key decisions that follow. For best results, you should focus on backing your buyer personas up with real data, either from within your business or from some other source that’s available to you. An informed perspective on who exactly you should be pursuing as customers for your company can seriously improve your sales team’s performance later on.
Here, your team is tasked with sleuthing out new prospects, getting their attention with relevant, timely marketing material, and making direct contact as soon as possible. Think of this stage as the meet-and-greet portion of the process. Your team should be discovering potential clients that match the personas you have produced and reaching out to them with the right information at the right time.
Warming up potential customers
At this point, if all is going well, you should be able to transition interested prospects into taking your software for a test run. Whether you choose to offer a free trial or a scheduled demonstration, this is your team’s opportunity to make a lasting positive impression on each new prospect.
Closing the deal
At this point, an actual sale can be made and your prospect can be converted into a paying customer. Naturally, this is a critical moment for your sales team to handle. A communicative and helpful approach can work wonders at this stage. Assuming your leads have enjoyed the demo or trial, it should not take too much coaxing to get them in the door as actual clients. Choosing the right medium to contact them and providing the right incentives for them to go through with purchasing your service can help simplify success at this stage. With the deal closed and a new client in the loop, your team can turn to upselling and general customer retention concerns. Customer service is essential here to ensure clients are well catered to and comfortable with your system.
Improve your SaaS sales performance with VeryCreatives
Achieving ideal performance at market with any digital product requires an experienced eye for detail and insider guidance. Our team at VeryCreatives can offer all of this and more.
From helping you decide on your business’s core pricing strategy to building out a minimum viable product that produces results (and profits!) at launch and beyond, VeryCreatives is equipped to assist you every step of the way. Partner with us to gain priceless industry insight and dedicated guidance in getting your SaaS offering off the ground. Book a call today to learn how we can help.