21 Ways to Sell Your SaaS Product to More Customers with Less Time
Running software as a service (SaaS) is a lot of work. There are many moving parts that you need to juggle as a CEO. Hopefully you’ve built the right team around you, but when you are just starting out your team might be stretched thin, taking on multiple roles.
The problem is that it’s really easy to get “stuck in the weeds” of running SaaS, and let bringing in new customers fall by the wayside. If you don’t have new business coming in on a regular basis, then before you know it, you’ll be out of revenue and your SaaS will be dead in the water.
So how do you make sure you can keep everything running smoothly, while still bringing in new business?
Here are 21 ways you can sell your SaaS product more effectively and get more customers.
1. Understand the Value of Your Product
You should be able to convince your prospect of the true value of your product. What are the benefits to your prospect and how will your product help them achieve their goals?
This is where it’s important to understand your unique selling proposition (USP) and back it up with evidence of results to prove a positive return on investment (ROI) on your SaaS product. If you are having trouble articulating any of this to a prospect with confidence, you may need to go back and spend some time working it out.
2. Hire a Sales Team
If you don’t already have one, and you are making more than $20k a month, you need a dedicated sales person; if you are making more than that, a sales team and VP of sales might be in the cards. Having a sales team will free up your time from trying to sell your software and allow you to focus on other, equally important business development activities.
Don’t be cheap when hiring your sales team; a good sales rep will pay for themselves and more. But that doesn’t mean you should hire just anybody. Be selective; someone who would make a good virtual assistant (VA) doesn’t necessarily have the skills necessary to close a sale. If you outsource your sales to the wrong people, you risk doing more harm to your business than good.
Some important traits to look out for include empathy, ambition, and a willingness to learn.
3. Keep Your Trials Short
At first glance, you might think giving customers a long trial period for your product will increase the chances that they pay for your product. The truth is, a trial period longer than 14 days is likely hurting your chances of getting your prospective customers to commit.
People don’t use free trials for the full amount of time. A shorter trial creates a sense of urgency and users are more likely to test as many features as possible. The other upside to the shorter trial period is that it keeps the product fresh in their mind, so when it comes time to pay, they are more likely to go for it.
If you still have a low conversion rate after shortening your trial, try some of these strategies to nurse lost trial leads into activation.
4. Make Your Email Campaigns More Personal
People’s inboxes are slammed with emails every day, so it’s important that you are able to stand out and offer value — especially if they are prospects trialing your product for the first time.
Try making your communications with your customers more personal. Use real names in your email addresses rather than “Sales@yoursaas.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org.” It may seem like a small detail, but it’s the little things that can make a big difference when connecting with your customers.
5. Be Clever with Email Tracking
You can send emails based on your trial user or customer’s activity. Emails should go out in a number of situations, such as upon sign-up, if they visit the account cancellation page, or if their trial is coming to an end.
This way you can follow up with your prospect/customer and give them the nudge they need to pay for your product. It also shows that you care about how they are using your software and that you are actively looking at ways to improve their user experience.
6. Don’t be Afraid to Use the Phone
Bring up email autoresponders and automations to any online business owner, and they’ll talk your ear off about how great they are for selling their products. But mention getting on the phone, and you can watch the blood drain from their faces with the horror of speaking to another person one-on-one.
Not all your prospects will want to get on the phone, but speaking to people directly can have a massive impact on converting a prospect into a paying customer. The phone is a great way to quickly qualify or disqualify someone, or for you to respond to any objections on the spot.
7. Give Short, Value-Focused Demos that Ask for the Sale
Product demos are often used to promote SaaS products; however, they are not always used well. A demo shows the value of your product to a prospect, but many people use demos as a training session on how to use it, which is a no-no (that’s for your onboarding process).
Focus on showing a prospect how your product is going to help them be more successful. Keep the demo short; if you can’t get the value of your product across in less than 15 minutes, then you are doing something wrong. You either don’t know your product, your prospect, or the value you are providing.
In some cases, the SaaS sales rep finishes the demo by saying thank you and never asking for the sale while the lead is hot.
Your demo is a sales tool, so at the end of the demo make it clear what the next steps are for them to pay for your software. The best time to ask for the sale is when your prospect has your product front-of-mind.
8. Follow Up
The money is in the follow-up. You want to get either a clear yes or no. A maybe isn’t a no until it’s a no. So make sure you or your team follow up until your prospect gives you an answer one way or another.
Use a customer/client relationship management system (better known as a CRM) to manage this, or you can set up an automation in your autoresponder to do this. Set some rules so if they don’t respond to or open the emails, you get notified to follow up manually either by email or phone.
9. Nail Your On Boarding Process
You need to make sure that when your customers pay for your product, they are using it. How many times have you signed up for the gym, only to stop going after a month or two? What happens next? You cancel your membership after six months because you aren’t using it and are just wasting your money.
This is why it’s important to have an on boarding process. On boarding is how you make sure your customers are getting the most out of it so they don’t change their mind and cancel.
The complexity of your product will determine how involved you or your team need to be when on boarding. Fail this, however, and your customers will churn faster than a baby goes through diapers.
10. Increase Your Prices
While beating out your competitors on price may seem like a good way to get a head start in your industry, selling your product too cheaply may backfire, making many prospects question if you can actually deliver on your promises.
It costs the same amount of effort to acquire one $10 customer as it does one $50 customer, so why wouldn’t you want to bring in 100 $50 customers instead of 100 $10 customers?
Be confident in what your product can deliver and price your product according to the value you believe it provides. The value of what you can deliver to your customer should be what makes your product competitive, not its price point. If you never hear anyone say your software is too expensive, you’re probably not charging enough.
11. Understand Churn and How it Impacts Your Business
Churn is a metric that indicates how many customers have cancelled their subscription to your SaaS. It’s important you understand your churn rates and the impact they have on your business, as negative churn left unchecked can mean death for a SaaS.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though — understanding churn will help you grow your business and generate higher profits. We’ve written a comprehensive article about churn and how to minimize it, which you can check out here.
12. Sell Prepaid Annual Plans
One way to reduce your churn and to get customers to commit long-term is to sell prepaid annual pricing plans. While monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is better when it’s coming in regularly, all it takes is a couple of failed payments and suddenly you’ve lost a customer.
Try offering your prospects discounted rates if they buy a prepaid annual plan, and show them what the discount looks like from month to month. Just be aware that annual pricing means you get all the money up front, so if you spend it all immediately, you’ll be waiting a whole year for the next lot of revenue to come in, rather than the next month, which affects your monthly cash flow.
13. Avoid Giving Discounts
Offering a discount in is a common practice to get buyers over the line, however in SaaS these discounts cause a much higher loss in revenue as they compound over time. Think about it — if your customer would’ve been paying $100 a month and you gave them a 10 percent discount, in a year you’ve forgone $120 of revenue. Doesn’t sound too bad right?
But if your average lifetime value (LTV) is five years, that’s $600. Now imagine if you gave that same discount to 2,000 of your customers — suddenly you are missing out on $1.2 million in revenue over five years! That’s some serious moolah.
It also makes it tough to explain to loyal customer ”A” why new customer “B” managed to get a great deal while they got stiffed on the price. Avoid offering discounts outside of prepaid or annual plans, if you can.
Sometimes a discount makes sense when the upside is big enough. For example, if you have customers or prospects that are very large businesses, locking them into a longer-term contract at a discount can make a lot of sense for guaranteed revenue. Kind of like a long-term property lease.
14. Don’t Sell for the Sake of Selling
It’s tempting to just get as many people as possible signed up for your app; however, the wrong customer is only going to churn as soon as they realise that your product is not for them, costing you money and time spent trying to get them onboarded.
These unqualified customers end up being a real headache, and they’ll have a ton of complaints and take up a lot of your support team’s time. Focus on the long term and make sure you are selling to your ideal customer who is going to get a ton of value from using your product.
You can’t be the ideal tool for every customer, which is why it’s important to understand your ideal customer and focus on spending your energy on finding them — not on filling some arbitrary sales quota.
15. Know Your Ideal Customer’s Software Stack
You and your sales team must have an understanding beyond just your own software. Not only do you need to know your own product front to back, but also how it complements other products and how it can fit in or even integrate with your ideal customer’s existing software stack.
By the same token, make sure you clearly understand what differentiates you from your competition and what your USP is.
16. Build Solid Long-Term Relationships With Your Customers
When your entire business lives online, sometimes it’s hard to build any kind of relationship with your customers. That’s why it’s imperative you and your team have great written and spoken communication skills.
You or your sales team should be able to reassure prospects that your business will be around for the long term and is not a fly-by-night operation. When a customer decides to use your software, they should see it as a long-term investment in their own business.
When you have a high level of rapport with your customer base, it makes it easier to increase your revenue through upsells or add-ons, or even bring in new business through referrals and testimonials.
17. Upsell or Upgrade Your Existing User Base
It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one. You’ve already spent time and money acquiring your existing customers, so it makes sense to try to increase their LTV by getting them to spend more money with you. So if you can upgrade your existing “warm” customer base, then you will not only save time, but also money on customer acquisition costs.
You can make this even easier by utilizing automated surveys if you have a large customer base, or personal calls or email outreach if you have a relatively small one. This way you can get a feel for what their needs are, and help identify if they may be on the wrong plan or if there is an add-on you offer that could help them out. Always find ways to improve their experience, and if you can make money in the process that’s perfectly OK.
18. Consider Visiting Customers If Necessary
While it may not be feasible to visit all of your customers, a personal visit can reap many rewards for the SaaS that goes the extra mile.
When you can see a customer successfully using your software to achieve their goals, it can help wash away any lingering doubts you may have had about the value of your product. You also get to see first-hand how your customers are using your products, which can reveal use cases you had not anticipated.
Sometimes people are so busy they don’t have time to report all the bugs and problems or any suggestions for improvements. An in-person visit gives your customers the opportunity to get real and talk to you about issues they may have been having.
19. Turn Outages Into Opportunities
There is nothing worse than when a piece of software core to your business goes down inexplicably and all you hear from the support team is crickets.
When you experience the inevitable system outage that happens to everyone, use it to show your professionalism and transparency and that your team can be relied upon. Sure, you’ll get some people complaining, but you will have way more praise than criticism if you keep open lines of communication during a crisis.
20. Talk to Newly Churned Customers
When customers churn (cancel their subscription), many SaaS businesses either don’t have a process in place to handle it or choose to ignore it. It can be tough to take criticism, but one of the best things to do is reach out to newly churned customers to find out why they left.
Most people use automated emails to handle this, but many previous customers don’t bother responding to these emails, or if they do, they’re vague about their reasons why. Calling a churned customer can be a great opportunity to get some honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback about your product that could help prevent or reduce churn in the future.
You may even be able to win the customer back.
21. Know When to Fire Your SaaS Customers
When you are first starting out, your first few customers can be the most important. They’ve provided you with validation and proof that your business is legit.
However, as your business grows and changes its direction, sometimes an old customer is no longer the right fit for your business. Sometimes they become a distraction or a drain on your resources.
Knowing when to let go of a customer that is no longer a good fit can be painful in the short term. But by clearly defining your ideal customer and eliminating customers who don’t suit your customer profile, you can redirect your limited resources to better service the people who will support the direction and growth of your business.
Now It’s Your Turn…
There you have it, 21 tips to help you sell your SaaS service to your customers and improve your SaaS sales. If you improve your SaaS profits using these tips, keep in mind that will help you when you learn how SaaS valuations works.
It’s important to remember when you are running your business not to get totally caught up with the operations and forget about working on your sales process. Automated sales are great, but sometimes you need to add that personal touch to really take your business to the next level.
How will you build your SaaS empire? Perhaps, you will do it by not just building one from scratch but actually purchasing a SaaS business for sale that is already making a healthy MRR.
Photo credit: VadimVasenin