While a SaaS Attorney Andrew also built a SaaS company with partners and gained vast experience in the marketing and selling of his SaaS company’s application to enterprise customers. It’s not only that your company needs to develop effective marketing and sales strategies you also have to internally create processes and systems for product quality control, getting the best design for the best user experience and amongst other things implementing a social media strategy.
Are you looking for some enterprise sales strategies for marketing your software application to large scale companies?
Selling SaaS products for the first time to enterprise customers can be both confusing and frustrating. If you have never sold products to large scale companies with many layers of decision makers it can be a daunting task to try to figure out how to get started. Before attempting to sell your company’s SaaS product to any enterprise customers you need to formulate a solid game plan.
Entrepreneurs start businesses typically in verticals that they have worked in or that they have a fundamental understanding of the marketplace inside of that industry and believe that their product is better than the competition. Unfortunately, coming up with a great idea and having success selling are two totally different things.
One of the biggest mistakes that SaaS startups make is failing to validate ideas with users and prospective customers.
In the beginning stages of your company there is the need to create every feature or build your product to satisfy the needs of any possible customer who will pay your company.
But as your company grows it’s important to do research to validate ideas for new features with not only existing customers but also prospective customers. You don’t want to expend time and money resources to build new features only to find out that there is no market for them. Remember it’s not a great feature if a customer won’t pay for them. That’s why you should always test your ideas first with people or customers you trust before you exhaust time and money building them.
The biggest mistake that you can make in trying to market and sell your SaaS product to prospective customers is limiting the scope of potential sales to people that you know in the business world who you believe for one reason or another would use your product. For example, perhaps your colleague from a past job now works at a company that you believe would be a great fit for your company. So what you do is reach out to this person and try to sell them on how great your SaaS product is.
What you should have done first was to find out whether the colleague’s company had a need for your SaaS product and if it was looking to change vendors. If the answer is yes then you could find out at the colleague’s company who the VP is who in charge of making the decision to test or contract to use your product or not. If you had done this reach when you reached out to your colleague for the first time you would have known that his or her company was looking for a new SaaS vendor. And, you would have also been able to ask them to make an introduction to VP who makes the decision whether to use your product or not.
Marketing and selling SaaS software to enterprise customers is all about having the right information and getting it quickly so you can start selling. Sending hundreds of emails to random VP’s at companies you are trying to sell to typically does not render a lot of fruit. This is because two VP’s in the same company might be identical on paper but one has nothing to do with deciding to use your product or not. So unless you have a disciplined focus and can identify the right decision makers you are going to be in for a long day.
Once you have figured out a system for finding key decision makers in the companies that you believe have a need to use your product you then need to figure out a way to market and sell to these customers in the most effective, time efficient manner.
One way to get your company’s message out to a lot of prospective customers is to purchase automated marketing and sales software. This type of software enables your company to send out large numbers of emails to prospective contacts. You should look for software that tracks who opened your emails and who has responded to them.
Social Media should be included as part of your marketing campaign as you try to attract SaaS customers. You should establish accounts on all of the major social media sites and pick domains or handles that match your business name.
Social media is a great tool to showcase not only your company’s talent but to also make your product come to life in an exciting way to hopefully attract customers. Perhaps, you have added a new feature and customers are excited about it. You should post a video to social media with hashtags showing the new feature.
Don’t be hesitant to use social media sites to connect and communicate with both clients and prospective customers. You would be surprised how quickly you make connections on different levels that are not even related to business. Perhaps, one of the potential customers you are pitching likes to ski and you start exchanging stories about the best expert slopes in Colorado. It’s these little things, the connections that you make on social media that might put you over the top and win the client.
If you have an idea for a company a good way to get going is to start a blog. Hopefully, others will follow you or contribute to the blog which is helpful for organic internet search rankings. You should pick a topic that you are passionate about. If you are going to start building your product at the same time you begin to write your blog try building something that plays into your strengths and it will be something you enjoy doing not just because it’s a good idea.
You should build something people love and want to use. Think about creating something that makes people’s lives better, or improves their work experiences and the revenue will follow.
Hopefully, within a short period of time potential customers will be interested in testing your SaaS product. You have to keep in mind that SaaS companies survive on getting recurring business and that your company needs to sign contracts to keep going or to attract investors. You should not rush through the testing/Contracts negotiations processes but know that the clock is ticking.
How do you stay in front of potential customers so that your product is memorable? The first inclination is to send whatever documents we have that describes our product, its capabilities and pricing structure. We usually send all of these things along with a lengthy email that we obsess over each word before hitting enter.
When the potential customer opens the first attachment after not reading your email they are looking for one thing: how much it is going to cost them to use your product each month. If they don’t like the price chances are they won’t get back to you.
A better way is to get the person on the phone and go over all aspects of your pricing structure so that they understand the value they are receiving. If your more expensive than a direct competitor but can explain clearly on a call why spending more and going with your product is the best thing in the long run for the client you have given them a lot to think about. Then, a follow-up email would be appropriate.
Don’t lose sight of how powerful and useful user feedback can be. You can start with a small group of colleagues that you trust to try out your software before you either go live with it or begin the customer sales and marketing processes.
It is so critical for people that you trust to offer insight and feedback, whether critical or not on things such as UX/UI design, whether the software is easy to use or whether the front end seems too crowded or has too many features.
Part of the problem with SaaS software on the enterprise level is that sometimes the VP’s make the decision to contract to use a vendor’s product without first having the SaaS company spend time with the employees to help them not only understand how to use every product feature but also about the value that the software offers and the problems that it solves for.
As a SaaS company you might not get the opportunity to test your product in-house with a customer for an extended period of time. That’s why it is so important that your software has a design that does not feel cluttered or too busy. If customers don’t like the look and feel of a SaaS product when that one or two year contract is about to expire there is a good chance that it will not get renewed by the customer.
To help move you further along in the process there are a couple of things you can do. You can ask the customer whether or not they anticipate a long period of testing and whether or not they are going to want your company to customize the software to fit their integration needs. If they need more time than you anticipated to test your software find out how far down your software is on the waiting list for their in-house developers to start testing your product. What you could also do is to jump start the process by doing an intro call between both companies’ developers so any preliminary integration or API questions can be answered. What this does is not only get the customer interested in the product it might alleviate any concerns the customer has about ease of integration with your product.
You can never be too prepared when you go to do an onsite meeting at a potential customer’s office. When Andrew was involved in his SaaS company and going onsite to customer pitch meetings there were times that the Wi-Fi inside the building didn’t work or they couldn’t connect to the customer’s projections systems. The lesson here is don’t always assume there will be Wi-Fi.
You should also take all your adapters, cords, chargers and extra batteries. You need to anticipate that your laptop will malfunction or die so bring backups.
You also need to schedule meetings if you are flying that allow for extra time for delayed flights. If you are in New York City and traveling to San Francisco it’s probably not smart to schedule a meeting that day unless the meeting is toward the end of the day. Also make sure that you have the right address or building. Some customers are located in office parks which makes it sometimes impossible to find the right building.
This information is being provided for informational purposes only and not as legal advice.
If you would like to speak to Andrew about the SaaS sales and marketing processes please call Andrew at 201-446-9643.