According to 451 Research
“SaaS is expected to grow sharply to nearly one-quarter (23%) of all enterprise workloads by mid-2018.”
While this should be good news for sales professionals in the industry, changing buyer demographics and behaviors are making selling SaaS solutions more complicated than ever before.
More business functions depend on SaaS capabilities, which means that multiple stakeholders are playing a role in the buying process. Not only are the buyers changing, the solution is changing as well. Traditional software models based on one-time, upfront licensing fees have evolved to SaaS cloud solutions.
Sales professionals must redesign their approach with buyers by being able to engage various stakeholders and extend value beyond the close of the sale.
Here, we look at ten best practices for selling the cloud to the modern buyer.
1. Understand the New Decision Maker
Historically, IT professionals were the SaaS sellers’ target market, but the changing role of SaaS solutions in organizations means IT stakeholders have moved to an influencer role, while business-unit stakeholders and C-level executives occupy the primary buying position. This adds complexity to the buying process because each stakeholder has a personal definition of value, and the sales professional must be able to address each need. To be successful, sales professionals must be aware of the players on the field and their positions.
2. Address Multiple Stakeholder Needs
In a rush to meet the needs of companies shifting to SaaS, many sales professionals fall into the trap of reciting product features rather than addressing the essential question “So what?” The answer to this question is different depending on the audience. CIO and CISOs, for example, are increasingly focused on managing risk, while the CTO needs to know how the software delivers value to the technology team. Matching the product benefit to the stakeholder need results in meaningful conversations that advance the sale.
3. Drive Buyer Consensus
The buyers will not achieve consensus on their own. This job falls to the sales professional. Customer stakeholders must come together, vocalize their viewpoints, and allow sometimes difficult conversations to unfold. Here, it’s particularly effective for the seller to not only join disparate groups but also to underscore the risks of not moving forward.
4. Establish a Buyer-centric Sales Process
To consistently improve their process, sales professionals must watch how previous customers capitalize on the solution. This routine is not limited to just those in a sales position. Marketing and customer service professionals must also regularly renew efforts to keep pace with customers. The result is synchronicity in which the sales process develops into a repeatable flow. This approach creates a compounding effect that keeps the customer’s experience at the center.
5. Communicate Value without Overpromising
SaaS sales are no longer characterized by upfront capital investment. In some ways, the sales professional’s relationship with the customer is only as good as their last subscription renewal. The customer can part ways with the sales professional at any time. Conversations must be open, honest, and transparent. In the end, the buyer understands that they’re talking with someone who stands behind their word.
6. Focus on Providing Long-term Value for the Customer
In SaaS sales, a “closed” deal is never fully closed. Sales professionals must deliver ongoing value for the customer. Delivering consistent value for the buyer means staying ahead of the customer’s challenges and providing insights into new developments in the industry. This level of engagement is rewarded with renewals that maintain cash flow while limiting customer turnover.
7. Measure and Communicate Business Impact
Sales professionals can leverage the platform’s analytic capabilities to prevent this problem. Customer-generated usage and engagement metrics offer insight into solution performance. This process begins when the sales professional works with the buyer to identify goals and standards for success. This upfront information equips the sales professional to address the issues and correct problems proactively.
8. Address Evolving Needs with Insights
Customers need competitive solutions. The problem is that what’s competitive today won’t be tomorrow. The sales professional must offer insights that inform future strategies, which means that the sales professional must understand the nuance of the customer’s business while considering downstream challenges and offer solutions to help the customer build a competitive advantage using their solution.
9. Address Service Issues Fast
SaaS capabilities are becoming important to nearly all aspects of a business. As a result, there are greater opportunities for problems to arise. Effective sales professionals uncover these potential service issues before they become a source of concern for the customer. The strength of the sales professional stems from their ability to proactively address problems. In many cases, the customer’s perception of the sales professional is only as good as the last interaction. Make each one count with reliable service and resolutions.
10. Stay Agile
Changes in cloud computing are not only inevitable — they’re accelerating. If the sales professional is going to stay in the game, they must match this rhythm. They can do so by effectively connecting customer needs to specific solution capabilities. Sales professionals don’t add value by making SaaS solutions known and available. They add value by helping inform the user how it fits their business and goals. Doing so requires agility.
Pipeliner CRM fully empowers selling SaaS solutions and keeping up with customers. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.