What a Sales Team From Any Industry Can Learn From Innovative SaaS Companies
Considering that SaaS companies, in their current form, are a relatively new phenomenon, it’s astonishing to see how important their services have become to businesses around the world.
The best of these companies have experienced meteoric growth, not just because of their products, but because of the innovative strategies they incorporate into their sales and marketing processes.
B2B organizations that sell physical products, meanwhile, may consider their companies as worlds apart from SaaS providers, but they too have an opportunity to implement many of the following SaaS-style techniques that make those tech startups so successful.
1. Make a commitment to customer success.
Many SaaS companies have risen to the top of the heap by understanding that there is no hope for them if their customers don’t quickly and reliably succeed with their solution. When you think about the B2B SaaS market, you probably think about products seemingly emerging overnight, and an open environment that makes it easy for customers to search out the next big solution.
These are realities that SaaS salespeople and account managers deal with every day. If customers are having difficulty getting the most out of their platform, they're going to start thinking about canceling their current subscriptions and signing up with a new service.
Are you a sales leader in another industry? You may believe that your sustained success is not as closely tied, like a SaaS company's success, to your customer’s achievement level with your product.
You may mistakenly believe that your primary goal is to sign a deal with a customer and move on to the next one, leaving the responsibility for customer support up to a different unit entirely. However, like Saas professionals, B2B sales professionals in every sector also have the responsibility of getting involved in the customer onboarding process to limit churn and facilitate sustainable growth.
2. Don't let your sales process begin or end with your sales team.
When you stop to think about how different the B2B sales funnel was even 20 years ago, you might feel your head spin. Sure, there was marketing back then: And maybe your customer saw a print ad or browsed through some products in a catalog.
But, by and large, customers came into sales calls with a dearth of information that only the salesperson could fill.
Today, things are very different: Studies indicate that nearly all B2B buyers have researched a brand online beforehand, and many have completed a great deal of their research before speaking to a company sales rep for the first time.
This means that they’ve had possibly dozens, or even hundreds of various micro- and macro-interactions with your brand before your sales rep has a chance to outline your product's value proposition.
SaaS companies have the added challenge of trying to sell something that isn’t physical. Not only that, but the customer may not even understand the nature of the software product itself. That’s why the most successful SaaS companies work hard at maintaining alignment between their marketing, sales and customer support divisions.
That’s not to say that SaaS sales professionals have an easier job at doing what they do because so much has been done for them, but rather that the way to position users to succeed with your solution is to present cohesive messaging to your customer across all stages of the sales journey.
3. Regard subscription revenue as the wave of the future.
Subscription-based pricing for SaaS platforms has clearly taken hold across the industry, and it’s not difficult to see why. In 2015, the industry delivered a median subscription gross margin of 78 percent, and such streams of predictable revenue can quickly free up cash flows to invest in other innovative processes.
The lure of predictable revenue is so attractive right now that even companies which, like Cisco, were once synonymous with hardware development are shaking up their strategy and benefitting from growing subscription channels.
But, if you think subscription-based revenue applies only to SaaS, think again. Any type of organization can transition to a subscription model and gain many of these same benefits. As long as you continue to focus on delivering real value for your customers, they’ll likely appreciate what a subscription-based model provides them as well.
4. Let your customers tell you most of what you need to know.
SaaS buyers are generally not a shy bunch. They know that companies are increasingly turning to customization in order to increase customer satisfaction, and they’re not afraid to let sales or support staff know that the product could be improved for them in some way.
Of course, with software, this often means that developers can quickly change some code to facilitate the request. Companies that manufacture physical products don’t have that same luxury, but they can still listen to their customers’ concerns and pay close attention to their thoughts on the products.