On the surface, selling software as a service(SaaS) is no different than selling a physical product. Both have specific properties, features, and usability and are implemented to generate ROI.
It begs the question – if the components are similar, why do so many salespeople in SaaS environments struggle with ramping up and closing business?
The truth is that looking at SaaS through a traditional sales lens can be detrimental to growing your business. Technology, ever-growing competition, hard and soft sales skills, and more add one layer of complexity after another. The result – sales teams struggling to hit their monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and annual recurring revenue (ARR) goals.
Sales Challenges for Tech and SaaS
Change is the only constant in the SaaS world. New competition is never far away, even if you offer a groundbreaking solution. In recent years, globalization has led to feature and pricing wars, making it incredibly difficult for salespeople to grow their book of business with any consistency.
These trends will only increase as more energy and resources are poured into the technology sector. SaaS products need to be constantly evolving to keep up with competition and market demand.
The constant evolution of the products themselves places additional stress on sales teams as they are constantly forced to pivot based on new additions to the tech stack, customer requests, and more.
Only by taking an Other-Centered® sales approach can these challenges be overcome. At ASLAN, we’ve learned from decades of experience that shifting the focus from everything a REP has to deal with to what’s on the CUSTOMER’s mind makes all the difference.
The good news is this framework is effective for any SaaS sales role.
SaaS Sales Roles
Traditionally, most SaaS sales teams are broken into two teams – the sales development representatives (SDRs) and the account executives (AEs). Often, there is a good split in duties: SDRs help to build the pipeline and are pounding the phones while the AEs were more experienced with negotiation and helped close business.
Of course, there is no right or wrong way to structure a sales organization. In the fast-paced world of SaaS, what matters most is having a consistent Other-Centered approach within every stage of the sales process.
SDRs that are only motivated by booking appointments to get their numbers up, instead of actually finding the best prospects for a business, create a ripple effect that diminishes the likelihood of a closed deal once the prospect is handed off the AE.
AEs that only care about their commission can quickly derail all of the progress that the SDR has made with finding a great prospect, setting up the conversation, and uncovering what is on the prospect’s whiteboard.
Both need to be on the same track, placing the needs of the customer ahead of their own. It sounds easy enough on paper, but shifting mindsets can be a challenge even for seasoned sales leaders.
SaaS Sales Tips
As the world increasingly moves towards subscription-based models, SaaS products are becoming more popular than ever. Avoid taking the same approach as your competitors and instill an Other-Centered mindset within your seals team.
Here’s how to start.
Understand the Problem
What does your solution solve? It is a simple question that every salesperson should be able to clearly answer. The issue with approaching SaaS sales from this angle, is that it assumes that every prospective customer has the same problem.
By shifting the focus of the conversation to what problems the customer is actively looking to address, SDRs can help create a more productive pipeline that has a much higher chance of converting prospects into customers. In turn, AEs will see more qualified prospects, making the selling process more efficient.
The prospect’s whiteboard is an idea that represents THEIR unique and leading priorities. That should be a forethought with every engagement.
Emphasize Critical Listening
Feature vomit is all too common in SaaS sales conversations and demos. A rep finally has an opportunity and they want to show off all of the shiny bells and whistles. The only issue is that they completely forget to let prospects talk and express the needs or challenges they are looking to address.
Failing to listen creates weaker sales pipelines, and increases the likelihood of churn even if the prospect becomes a customer. Pain points should be unpacked, not left in the corner for the next salesperson to deal with, and this can only be done if reps are ready to listen.
Remember: not all Prospects Have Technical Knowledge
Your AE has the decision maker on the call, but the prospect has zero technical knowledge, how does the salesperson bridge the gap? Start with simplifying the conversation. Does the decision-maker need to know the nuts and bolts of how the solution works? Probably not, especially if they are not the end user.
Instead of getting into the weeds, focus on the pieces that were on the prospect’s whiteboard and how the solution will help them address each area of emphasis.
Interoperability is Inevitable
Reps that only focus on their solution are only looking at one piece of the equation for the prospect. Tech stacks are constantly growing as new tools are developed. Integration has become the name of the game. Sales teams that fail to acknowledge that they will need to understand the other components of a customer’s technology stack will put themselves behind the eight ball when it comes time for implementation.
While core pieces of technology may not come up during a SDR conversation, they should be at the top of the list for any AE that is looking to gain a better understanding of the prospect’s process and challenges.
“People don’t trust sales team anymore” – does that sound familiar? The truth is that they don’t trust salespeople that only care about closing business and making a commission. Reps have to understand that people have more access to information and competitors than ever before.
An Other-Centered mindset starts with transparency, and a desire to do what is right for the customer. Only then can salespeople build trust.
Sales Training for Technology and SaaS Reps
SaaS sales reps are thrown one hurdle after another. As leaders, it is our responsibility to equip them with the tools they need to overcome exterior challenges as well as those that they create themselves.
At ASLAN, we believe that sales begins and ends with the customer. If your sales team is struggling, explore our training options and approach, and connect with our team for a consultation today.