SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is a hot category today, and you probably know that. Look at any startup funding news on LinkedIn and 8 out of 10 times it is about a SaaS company.
You may be selling a niche solution like an object storage software or a more generic one like a project management software but if you are selling SaaS, you might have common challenges.
But the numbers are with you. The SaaS market is currently growing at 18% annually. And by the end of 2021, 99% of organizations were using at least one SaaS product.
That means that there is room for more sales. Once a company sees the value of a Saas product in one category, they are likely to be more receptive to adopt it in another.
Despite the growth, though, there are SaaS companies finding it difficult to scale their sales machine. These are challenges that burden even the best of companies and are unique to the SaaS model.
Let's go through a couple of these challenges before we dive into the strategies that you can solve them.
An abundance of data but lack useful data
If you look at any company's sales stack you are definitely going to find lead generation software like Zoominfo, Apollo, or other companies in it.
If not, you will at least find SDRs using LinkedIn Salesnavigator to find prospects. Since a majority of SaaS companies are B2B, sales prospecting is a core activity and SDRs can't skip it.
The major problem is that reps spend hours weekly "searching" and "filtering" through the vast dataset that these traditional tools offer.
LinkedIn Salesnavigator presents you at least 25 leads per page and each search result can give you upto 40 pages. That means for a simple search you are presented with 1000 leads. Now how long do you think it will take you to find the right contact in your target companies?
Long enough I think.
The human brain isn't built to process that much amount of information. Instead it is best at finding patterns in information.
So most SDRs feel overburdened by the manual search and try to maximize their success rate by "spraying and praying".
This leads(no pun intended) to further funnel problems. So yes, we have a lot of data but only a small portion of it is usable.
Your competitors have access to the same data
Imagine, if all the guys in your high school were asking out the same person for the prom night? Don't you think a lot of the guys would have gone date-less?
Your friends might have missed so many other opportunities that were just sitting around them.
Also, most B2B buyers today have made up their mind about the products in consideration even before you have made the first call or sent the first cold email.
In such a situation, your success is left at the hands of fate.
From that vast dataset, if you reached out to a lead before your competitor did and your products offer similar value then you are in luck with your prospect or vice versa.
But would you like to base your odds of success on pure chance? If not, then let's go through some strategies that can help you take more of your sales destiny.
Smart audience segmentation and ICP account selection
As discussed above, the major problem today is not the lack of data but the abundance of it. We have tons of data about everything.
For SDRs, finding the right leads from the vast amounts of data available is truly finding needles from a haystack job.
And those that apply a brute-force approach to prospecting get an abysmal reply/connection rate of around 1%.
Now, if you want to avoid such a problem then you have to be smart about finding the leads.
Most teams have a well-defined target market or an audience that is identified after several experimentations. But when real-life prospecting happens there are overlaps between reps and errors which contribute to poor targeting.
This well defined audience is termed ICP and the definition of leads is termed buyer persona. You should have the ability to be specific when creating your audience segments or ICP in the lead generation software of your choice.
Creating smart audience segments that can accommodate the differences in territory and buyer persona is the first step to prospecting success.
Once you have good segments defined and the right technology to implement on it, you can focus your team to pick accounts that are in your ICP and ignore the rest.
Software like Truebase and a few others can help you define ICPs with precision using parameters like your target customer's product category, geography, size, target customer's pain points and others.
Such software uses machine learning and NLP to identify patterns in vast amounts of unstructured text data available on the web.
With the analysis of accounts Truebase can identify those accounts that fit your ICP definition and ignore all the others that don't. That means reps don't have to waste time on a huge list of accounts or on searching for accounts.
Studies from Salesforce show that teams that use AI/ML tech in their sales operations are 2.2x more likely to be high-performing than the ones that don’t.
And Truebase helps you add AI/ML in your sales prospecting without you having to hire a data science team or making your reps do analysis work.
Map buyer journey members and connect with key stakeholders
Today, B2B sales is much more complex than it was 10 years ago.
The typical buying group for a B2B solution involves six to 10 members, each armed with four or five pieces of information they've gathered independently and which they must deconflict with the group.
Most of the buying group members have a bias and are likely to recommend solutions that they like or have used before.
Your goal is to be in the consideration set of at least one of the buying group member, if not all of them. If you have a champion within the buying group of your target account, you can expect them to make a case for your solution.
The problem though is that with search-based solutions most reps end up wasting a lot of time finding accounts and leads. That means less time to find out who is involved at what stage of the buyer journey.
But if you map the buyer’s journey and assign roles to leads in the journey you know the function each lead fulfills in the journey. And with that key information you can hone your messages based on the buyer journey role your prospect fulfills.
For example, if one of your prospects is a recommender/influencer tasked with research. You could reach out to them with content like comparison docs, pricing comparisons, feature list, etc.
If the prospect were an end-user you could offer a free trial while if they were a decision maker you could supply content showcasing ROI.
Get referrals from existing or past customers
One of the most successful channels for generating leads is also one of the most underutilised ones. Yes, referrals from existing or past customers convert at a higher rate than other channels yet many teams ignore them.
The problem here is that most teams don't know whether they can get a referral to a cold prospect. They might have someone in their network that knows a prospect but they aren't aware of it.
Another problem is that you might have someone in your Google address-book who can refer you to a prospect. In some other case, you might have a potential referral in your LinkedIn contacts.
And what about 2nd-degree connections(people your team members know)? They can get you warm introductions too.
But as we discussed earlier, with traditional tools searching accounts and leads consumes most of the prospecting time. That means you have little time to find referral opportunities.
There is some software though, Truebase being one of them, which can find you referral opportunities from across all your professional networks.
You can connect Google Contacts, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft Live and even Slack groups that you are a part of to find potential referral opportunities.
When you can access all your possible referrers to a prospect, you can choose who suits the best. With more referrals in your lead generation process you are bound to have a higher quality pipeline.
Hyper personalized experiences for prospects
When we speak of personalization we tend to think of research information from LinkedIn or Facebook and personalized video in cold emails.
If you are bullish on personalization you could go a bit further and send some swag items to the mailbox of your prospect.
But does personalization have to end there?
If you are confident about your targeting you could personalize the experience that your prospects have while engaging with your sales team.
It could start with your cold email. Extend to the ads that you serve them, and end with the trial or demo that you offer.
AI-based software like Truebase can help you identify personalization points which you can use in cold emails, ad copies and even as notes in your discovery calls.
With personalized experiences, you can expect higher conversion and also your team becomes mure humane at understanding and respecting prospects. This will create long-term benefits and promote the right culture.
Bet on free trials
Self-serve is all the rage these days and if you are in a SaaS company, chances are high that you already have a free tier.
But what about outbound prospects? Do you offer them a trial?
If not, then it is high-time that you start offering trial to end-users within an account while you are engaging with recommenders or decision makers.
With multiple champions speaking for you, it will be like you have ready buyers within the company and that makes your job easier.
Try out free trials as an extension of your overall sales strategy for some users and extend it if it works for you.
With that we come to an end of the five strategies that SaaS companies can use for lead generation. If you want to try out a few, you can leverage Truebase to get started with AI-driven sales prospecting. Sign up for a 14-day free trial or hit us up at email@example.com if you have any questions.