Your Growth Springboard

How to bring your SaaS solution to market on a shoestring

Early-stage SaaS start-ups face many challenges in selling their solutions, including limited sales and marketing budgets. Lead generation needs to be both efficient and cost-effective, so your client acquisition costs are minimised.  This means that founders and SaaS business leaders have to work smart in order to win their first clients.

This blog shows 10 easy-to-implement steps, which will help B2B SaaS entrepreneurs, like you, increase your sales, even with limited resources.

  1. Be clear on your value proposition
  2. Research your ideal customer 
  3. Prepare a short elevator pitch
  4. Leverage your network
  5. Ask for referrals
  6. Call your prospects
  7. Get the first meeting
  8. Have a clear plan
  9. Don’t give up
  10. Measure and document what works

1- Be clear on your value proposition

Your SaaS solution probably has many different features and functionalities, which provide value to your client.  Here’s the thing, your audience is not interested in these features per se, but rather in what benefits these features give them. Benefits can be thought of as the problems your solution solves. Typically, all businesses face similar problems, including:

  • having enough time
  • having sufficient resources/money
  • uncertainty about the future/peace of mind
  • staff retention
  • financial performance (cashflows/profitability)
  • industry-specific regulation and compliance
 
Therefore, frame your offering in terms of the problem it solves and the resulting benefits. 
For example, your solution offers charting and financial data. Instead of talking in detail about the different functions within the charting, you should focus on what the benefit is.
This might be something along the lines of: 

“By allowing you to chart and manipulate equity data easily in one place, we save you time to concentrate on higher-value tasks” 

“Our stock alerts provide you peace of mind, by flagging major price moves”

2- Research your ideal customer

Now that you are clear on which problems your solution solves and the resulting benefits it delivers, ask yourself which companies and which job titles are most likely to benefit from what you do. My advice is to target senior people in organisations, who have power to make decisions and sign the order form.

LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for helping you identify the best prospects. It allows you to search on specific job titles within specific companies.

You even have the option, for example, of identifying all the Chief Technology Officers, within your target industry within a particular city.  This is useful if you are planning a business road trip.

Do not be afraid to contact senior prospects on LinkedIn, by connecting with them and introducing yourself with a short message. From experience, senior people like speaking with other senior people like you and are often very interested in hearing about new innovations.

3- Prepare a short elevator pitch

This is a short description in simple language of what you do and the value you bring. It should cut through the noise and grab your audience’s attention. Hubspot provide some useful tips on structuring your elevator pitch.

One good approach given by Hubspot, is to first ask a question, empathise, pivot and then add value.

Let’s think of an example, using this structure:

  • How much time do you spend each day sourcing and collecting your fixed income data into one place?
  • We know from experience how frustrating and costly this can be.
  • That’s why we created “Fixed Income Analyser”, which brings together all your bond data and charting into one easy-to-use front end, saving you both time and money.   Because all our data is checked and verified, you can concentrate on higher value tasks, like interacting with your clients.

4- Leverage your network

According to research cited by TechTarget, a person can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.

This means that we, as entrepreneurs, should be leveraging our networks much more to spread the word about what we do. Again, LinkedIn has a useful feature that allows you to view the contacts you have in common with a particular person you are trying to target. You can request to be introduced, which makes getting the first meeting or call easier.

blog-01 4 Leverage your network

An approach that has worked for me is to pick up the phone to your mutual acquaintance and ask them to request a 30-minute meeting with your target so you can get their feedback on what you offer.  That way, they are more likely to agree to meet you. At the actual meeting, you should not engage in any hard sell, but rather show them what you offer and ask for their candid feedback. Often, these meetings are a great way to get names and further introductions.

5- Ask for referrals

“91% of customers say they’d give referrals. Only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals.”  (source: the Brevet Group)

If you are in the fortunate position to have some happy, paying customers, have you asked them for referrals? This is an often overlooked and very efficient way to grow your business. You can do this over the telephone or email. There are some useful templates from themuse.com.

6- Call your prospects

Despite the growth of inbound marketing strategies, calling prospects is not dead! There are three reasons why:

  1. it seems fewer and fewer companies are doing it well these days.  That means that you will stand out from the competition by picking up the phone.
  2. After face-to-face meetings, cold calling is the most personable way of connecting with your audience.
  3. Calling is an efficient and cost-effective way of setting up meetings and growing your business.
blog-01 6 Call your prospects

I know that cold calling can be scary to even the most seasoned salesperson, but it need not be if you adopt the right mindset, focus on getting the meeting and do it consistently. Close has some excellent tips on making your cold calls more successful.

7- Get the first meeting

You are selling a complex B2B solution, so the prospect is not going to buy over the phone immediately. The aim of your cold calls is to get a date in the diary for your first face-to-face or virtual meeting. The reason for the focus on an in-person meeting is because it is much easier to build rapport and read body-language.    Crucially, the in-person meeting means you have the prospect’s undivided attention. Check out my free guide “Cold Calling 101”.

8- Have a clear plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Without a plan, it is easy to lose focus and become overwhelmed. This is especially relevant to sales. One of the first things I would encourage you to do is to set a sales target to be reached by the end of the year. This could be a fixed amount of new revenue or a fixed number of new clients. Write it down so you see the target every day and let others know about it too. Trust me, this focuses your day-to-day efforts toward your goal, and you will be more successful.

9- Don’t give up

Sales can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle.  Salespeople have to deal with a lot of rejection, but, even if a prospect says “no” you should not give up. Instead, when are told “no”, get the prospect’s permission to follow-up with them in the future.  Say something along the lines of “would you mind if I checked-in with you in a couple of months?”. Usually, they will agree, and you can set a reminder in your CRM to give them a call back. Being persistent shows your prospect that you have dedication and a strong purpose, giving you business acumen. On the subject of persistence, data shows that it pays off:

“92% of salespeople give up after four “no’s”, but 80% of prospects say ‘no’ four times before they say ‘yes’.” (Source: Marketing Donut)

10- Measure and document what works

When growing your business, adopt an inquisitive approach to everything you do and evolve your messaging and processes based on market feedback. For example, test your cold calling scripts and see which ones deliver the best results. Using online tools, such as Optimizely, you can conduct A/B testing for your website. Similarly, there are solutions out there, such as close.io, that allow you to run email campaigns with different content to see which ones are the most successful at converting.

Document what works and make sure you update your sales and marketing strategy so you can easily roll-out best practice as you grow. Also, no matter how small you are, invest in a good CRM system now. This will save you time and effort in the long run, by having all your contacts and call histories in one place. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is a lot you can start doing today to grow your SaaS business without having to spend vast amounts of money. Remember, it is important to take action, if you are to get to where you want to be in the future. Make it a priority to implement one of the above steps before you go home today. Good luck on your journey!

Daniel Feander
Founder – salesmentor.