3 SaaS Sales Tips that Go Against Everything You Were Taught

April 23, 2015

  • “The Consumerization of IT”
  • “B2C2B”
  • “Freemium”

These are the latest buzzwords describing the customer acquisition strategies of modern tech companies. Changes in buyer preferences often ignite a permanent shift in sales best practices. We are on the brink of one of these moments.

The three buzzwords above represent a shift in B2B buyer behavior. Today’s front-line employees are no longer dependent on the C-Suite to decide which products they adopt. In a world of SaaS and cloud computing, front-line employees adopt the products they want. Buyers want immediate value with minimal friction (i.e. zero up-front cost, one-touch integration, no executive approval necessary).

Organizations that align themselves with these modern buying preferences are often industry disruptors. They benefit from lower customer acquisition cost, better customer retention, and overall stronger business economics.

With all this in mind, there is an enormous opportunity to evolve the ways traditional salespeople sell. But it takes stepping back and going against some of the things that worked in the past.

Call low, then call high

“Call high” has been a best practice in sales for decades. Why waste time with people who cannot buy?

However, the B2C2B movement changes this paradigm. Senior executives are under pressure simply to keep up with the tools their employees are currently adopting. They are fed up with enterprise sales people constantly selling them on eventually un-met promises. They are fed up with large purchases that never get adopted by the front-line.

Today’s salesperson is better off penetrating an account from the bottom up, incubating usage on the front-line, and then leveraging that adoption to influence a senior executive decision. Purchasing a product already in use and generating value for the front line is a “no-brainer” decision for a senior leader.

The demo isn’t a show-and-tell, it’s a setup and training call

Traditionally, the product demo has served a single purpose: show the prospect the product, ideally in a way that aligns with the prospect’s needs and goals.

However, within the context of the low-friction, immediate value world of B2C2B, there is an opportunity to setup and train the prospect during the demonstration as well.

  • The demo should be conducted on the prospect’s PC, not the salesperson’s PC.
  • It should set the prospect up on their instance of the product, not conducted on the salesperson’s generic demo instance.
  • It should be driven by the prospect, with the salesperson simply providing navigational instruction and color along the way.

The prospect walks away from the demo thinking, “Not only am I confident the product meets our needs, but it is already setup and I know how to use it. In fact, I am going to start using it now.”

This approach will contrast nicely to the “pay before you play” approach from your competitors.

Start prospects on the lowest price possible

Prospect: “I can start with one seat on the Basic version”

Salesperson: “You really need 50 seats on the Enterprise version.”

Historically, salespeople have been motivated to close new customers on the largest possible deal up front. However, this long-established behavior contradicts with the low-friction preferences of the modern buyer.

Instead, salespeople should encourage buyers to start smaller and make the purchase easier.

Prospect: “I love the product and I want to buy. I will show this to my boss and get you on the phone with procurement.”

Salesperson: “Hold on. Let me ask you this. Do you have authority to charge in a lunch for your team?”

Prospect: “Well, yes, of course.”

Salesperson: “Great. I can definitely chat with your boss and setup time with procurement. But let’s first get you and your team up and running on this simple use case. The software is sitting here, ready to be used. You can expense the initial cost for less than a team lunch. Once we have a week of successful results under our belt, then let’s show your boss and roll it out to the entire division.”

Buyers love this approach because they realize value sooner. The salesperson loves this approach because it shortens the sales cycle. The salesperson’s company loves this approach because it maximizes revenue retention by limiting the risk on failed customers and maximizing the revenue expansion potential for successful customers.

Big change in buying behavior = big opportunity for salespeople (at least the ones who can adapt)

Today’s buyer is far more empowered than a decade ago. Their expectations around the products they buy and the companies they choose to do business with have shifted accordingly. Salespeople have an enormous opportunity to stand out from the competition by aligning their sales technique with the preferences of the modern buyer.

If you liked this article, check out Mark Roberge’s #1 Amazon best-selling book, “The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100M”, about his experience in building the HubSpot sales team.

Photo by: Israel Sundseth

Chief Revenue Officer

<strong>Mark Roberge</strong> is Chief Revenue Officer at <a href="">HubSpot</a> and author of the #1 Amazon bestseller <a href="">The Sales Acceleration Formula</a>. Inbound marketing pioneer, in 2010 he was named Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference.