How To Sell SaaS B2B: 6 Essential Steps
Did you know that 99% of all businesses use at least one SaaS product?
It makes sense, considering how the world’s companies transitioned their operations online due to the pandemic.
What’s more, even now that things are getting back to normal, the business world has seen how much can be accomplished remotely. Now, a lot of companies are still looking to maintain at least some remote workforce even without the threat of COVID-19.
This is where B2B SaaS products come in. They provide the perfect solution for businesses that want to maintain operations online.
But how do you go about selling a SaaS solution, specifically a B2B SaaS product?
In this article, we will discuss how to sell SaaS B2B products.
But first, let’s define what B2B SaaS is.
What Is B2B SaaS?
Business-to-business (B2B) SaaS is a cloud-based software product that’s designed for business use.
Some of the most popular B2B SaaS products include CRM software, project management software, and accounting software.
These are all essential tools that businesses need in order to operate effectively.
The great thing about B2B SaaS products is that they’re subscription-based. This means that businesses can pay a monthly or annual fee to use the product.
B2B SaaS VS Traditional B2B Software
It’s important to distinguish B2B SaaS from traditional B2B software.
Traditional B2B software is designed for a one-time purchase. Businesses would need to pay a lump sum fee to use the software. The program is installed on the company’s computers and hosted on an on-premise server within the company grounds.
Because of the need for an owned IT infrastructure, traditional B2B software was usually targeted toward enterprises and larger businesses that can afford it.
B2B SaaS, on the other hand, is cloud-based. This means that businesses can access the software from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.
The software is also usually much more affordable since it’s subscription-based. This makes B2B SaaS products the ideal solution for small and medium businesses.
But even so, enterprise SaaS solutions are also emerging. More and more large businesses find B2B SaaS solutions to be more sustainable and scalable in the long run.
B2B VS B2C SaaS
It’s also important to clarify how B2B is different from B2C.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) SaaS products are designed for consumer use. Some popular examples include social media apps, fitness apps, and entertainment apps. Think Spotify, Netflix, and Duolingo.
B2C SaaS products usually have a freemium model. This means that consumers can use the basic features of the product for free. But if they want to access premium features, they would need to pay a subscription fee.
B2B SaaS products, on the other hand, are designed specifically for business use. As such, pricing for B2B SaaS solutions can be based on usage, features, or the number of users.
Now that we’ve cleared the air on the different ways that business SaaS solutions are different, let’s talk about how to sell SaaS B2B products.
1) Know Your Target Audience
The first step in selling any product is understanding who your target audience is. This is especially important with B2B SaaS products since they are targeted toward businesses.
It’s not enough to just say that your target audience is “businesses”. You need to be more specific than that.
You need your ideal customer profile and buyer personas.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Your Ideal Customer Profile is a description of the company that would be the best fit for your SaaS solution
It should have relevant characteristics that make them stand out from other businesses.
That includes the following:
- Company size
- Employee headcount and composition
- Annual revenue
- Size of customer base
Your ICP should be as specific as possible. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find and target your ideal customers.
Creating an ICP will help you zero in on your target market. It will also make it easier to create targeted marketing campaigns that will resonate with your target audience.
Once you’ve defined your ICP, you need to create buyer personas.
These are semi-fictional characters that represent your individual ideal customers.
They’re semi-fictional because these characters don’t really exist, but they are based on real research and data about your target audience.
For each buyer persona, you need to include information such as their demographics, pain points, needs, and goals. You can also give them a name and a face to make them more relatable.
For example, one of your buyer personas might be a small business owner, named Greg, who is looking for a way to improve their sales process.
Some relevant information about Greg would be his age, location, interests, and hobbies. His pain points might include a lack of leads, difficulty converting prospects into customers, or a long average sales cycle.
And his goal may be to close more deals in a shorter amount of time.
Creating buyer personas will help you understand your target audience on a deeper level.
It will also make it easier to create targeted marketing campaigns that will speak to their specific needs and pain points.
Creating buyer personas might seem like a lot of work. But it’s worth it because it will help you better understand your target audience.
2) Establish Product-Market Fit
Product-market fit is when your product meets the needs of your target market. It’s when you make sure that there is an actual demand for your SaaS product.
You need to ask yourself “Is there really a significant demand for my B2B SaaS product?”
To establish product-market fit, you need to validate your assumptions about your target market. Do they actually need your product? Would they be willing to pay for it?
So how do you establish product-market fit? Here are some tips:
Put Your Market First & Product Second
Product-market is like a key fitting into a lock.
The more efficient thing to do would be finding a lock your want to unlock and then building a key that would do the job. Rather than building a key first and then finding the lock that it would fit in.
This is how you need to approach product-market fit. You should put your market first and let that dictate what kind of product you create.
Don’t try to force a product onto a market that doesn’t need it. That’s how you end up with a product that no one wants to buy.
But how do you actually find out what your target market needs? How do you know what kind of product to build?
The best way to find out is to talk to your target market directly. You could hold focus groups, interviews, surveys, or even look at user reviews on your competitors.
These will at least give you an idea about their needs and pain points. You can even pitch the concept of your SaaS product and see if they would actually be interested in using it.
If they are, then you’re on the right track. If not, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Creating a SaaS MVP is a great way to validate your assumptions about your product and market.
An MVP is a version of your product that has the core features that are necessary for it to be functional. But it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles.
The point of an MVP is to test your product with actual users and see how they react to it.
Do they like it? Do they find it useful?
Based on their feedback, you can then decide whether or not to continue developing your product.
If you’re not sure how to create an MVP, there are a few different ways you can go about it:
Concierge MVP: With this kind of MVP, offer the services that your B2B SaaS product would provide. But you’re doing it manually instead of providing a fully automated platform.
For example, let’s say you want to offer a project management platform. With a concierge MVP, you would manage projects, tasks, and schedules manually for your clients.
This is a great way to validate your product because you’re actually using it with real clients. And if they’re happy with the results, then that’s a good sign.
Wizard of Oz MVP: If you’re familiar with the movie, the wizard is projected to be this powerful being when it’s really just something controlled by a man behind the curtain.
The same principle can be applied to your MVP.
With a Wizard of Oz MVP, you make it look like your product is a fully automated SaaS solution. But in reality, there are people behind the scenes manually doing the work.
For example, let’s say you want to create a platform that can help businesses with their social media marketing. With a Wizard of Oz MVP, you would manually post updates, interact with users, and run ads.
But to the user, it would appear as if they were using a fully automated platform.
Piecemeal MVP: This is a hybrid approach where you take one or more existing products that would simulate the services that your B2B SaaS product would provide.
For example, let’s say you want to create a platform that helps businesses with their customer service.
With a piecemeal MVP, you would use a combination of existing tools like Zendesk, Help Scout, and Google Sheets to create a system that would track customer queries, complaints, and feedback.
3) Choose A Customer Acquisition Model
Now that you have a better understanding of how to validate your product and market, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to acquire customers.
There are a few different ways you can go about this:
With a sales-based approach, you rely on your sales process to at least nurture leads and convert them into paying customers.
Now, the phrase “at least” is there because there is more than one way to run a SaaS sales team.
Let’s talk about two kinds of sales: inbound and outbound sales.
Outbound sales: This is the more traditional sales strategy where a sales rep proactively goes out and tries to sell your product to potential customers.
This can be done through things like cold-calling, cold emails, or even attending trade shows and conferences.
The goal is to reach as many people as possible and see if there’s any interest in your product.
Inbound sales: This is a more modern sales methodology where you attract customers to your product instead of going out and trying to sell to them.
This setup requires your marketing team and sales team to work together to generate high-quality leads.
You can do this through inbound marketing techniques, such as content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.
The main distinction of the inbound sales strategy is that you’re not interrupting potential customers with a sales pitch.
Instead, you’re providing them with valuable content that’s relevant to their needs.
And if they’re interested in learning more about your product, then they’ll reach out to you. Only then will they be in contact with a sales rep.
Product-Led Growth (PLG) Model
With a product-led growth model, your product is the main driver of growth. That includes customer acquisition, retention, and expansion.
Your SaaS sales team plays a minimal role (or none at all) in acquiring customers.
Instead, you’re relying on your product to be so good and so fit to the market that people will want to use it and recommend it to others.
The best way to do this is to offer a free trial or a freemium version of your product. This way, people can try it out and see for themselves how great it is.
If they like it, then they’ll be more likely to upgrade to a paid plan.
This customer acquisition method is best for any B2B SaaS business targeting small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) or even end-users.
That’s because the decision makers for SMBs and end-users are usually the users themselves.
However, if you have a diverse enough target market, you can have a mix of both PLG and sales-based customer acquisition.
In fact, a lot of B2B SaaS businesses are actually doing it.
What they usually do is offer two or three subscription tiers targeted toward end-users and SMBs. But they would also offer a customized enterprise solution for larger businesses.
These enterprise customers would have to reach out to a sales team to get a quote.
4) Craft A Compelling Value Proposition
Your value proposition is the main reason why a potential customer should choose your product over others.
It’s not just about features and benefits. Your value proposition should also address the specific pain points of your target market.
For example, let’s say you have a SaaS platform that helps businesses with their customer service department.
A compelling value proposition for this product could be something like “Get complaints and queries resolved up to 60% faster with our AI-powered customer service platform.”
This value proposition is specific, it addresses a common pain point (slow customer service), and it offers a tangible benefit (resolving complaints and queries up to 60% faster).
Value propositions are important because they help you stand out from the competition.
People are bombarded with so many marketing messages every day, so it’s important that your value proposition is clear and concise. Otherwise, potential customers will just tune out.
5) Identify Your Marketing Channels & Strategies
Whether you’re using inbound sales or product-led growth, marketing is still a critical part of your customer acquisition strategy.
And when it comes to SaaS, digital marketing is usually the most effective.
Some common marketing channels for B2B SaaS businesses are:
- Content marketing (blog posts, ebooks, videos, etc.)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (Google Ads, Bing Ads)
- Referral programs
- Influencer marketing
- Affiliate marketing
Once you’ve identified your marketing channels, the next step is to come up with strategies for each one.
For example, if you’re doing content marketing, then your strategy could be to publish one blog post per week and then create a YouTube video on the same topic.
And when it comes to your on-page SEO, your strategy could be to target long-tail keywords with high commercial intent.
It’s important to have a mix of different marketing channels and strategies so that you can reach your target market from multiple angles.
And as your business grows, you can experiment with different channels and strategies to see what works best for you.
6) Build A SaaS Sales Funnel
If you’re using a sales-based approach to customer acquisition, then you need to have a SaaS sales funnel in place.
But even if you’re not, having a visualization of your customer journey can still be helpful.
A sales funnel is basically a visual representation of the steps that a potential customer takes from awareness to purchase.
And for each step, there are usually different SaaS marketing and/or sales activities that need to happen.
The typical sales funnel has four main stages: top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU), bottom of funnel (BOFU), and post-purchase stages.
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Top Of Funnel (TOFU)
Tofu may sound like a soy-based snack we know and love, but the all-caps “TOFU” refers to the top of the sales funnel.
At this earliest phase, your potential customer isn’t familiar with your SaaS product yet. They’re probably not even aware of their own pain points yet.
But they are looking to improve their companies.
Potential B2B customers in the Awareness stage are likely businessmen that want to grow their businesses. Or employees who want to get better at their jobs.
Now, your job is to meet them there and provide them with valuable information that can help them with those goals.
Crucial TOFU marketing programs include content that attracts potential customers. Creating blog posts, ebooks, and infographics that are relevant to their needs is a great way to get on their radar.
You don’t have to aggressively promote your SaaS product right away. Just focus on providing value and building trust.
Middle Of Funnel (MOFU)
Don’t worry, we’re not making any more puns. Not with that acronym.
The MOFU is where potential customers start considering their options and looking for SaaS solutions to address their pain points.
At this stage, they’re aware of your SaaS product but they may not be ready to buy yet. At the later stages of the MOFU, they may be comparing your SaaS solution with your competitors
So it’s important to provide them with more information about your product and how it is different from other providers.
Content marketing can still play a big role here. But you can be more aggressive in promoting your SaaS platform. You can create product comparisons, case studies, and white papers.
You may also want to double down on your email marketing campaigns to these potential B2B customers.
A well-crafted and personalized email drip campaign can also keep your product top-of-mind.
Bottom Of Funnel (BOFU)
At this stage, potential customers are ready to buy and they’re just looking for that last little push.
This is where you close the deal. And the best way to do that is through a mix of content marketing and sales.
At this stage, your sales reps should be focused on closing the deal. You can create things like free trials, coupons, and demos.
What’s more, your sales team should be ready to answer any questions that potential customers may have.
For traditional businesses, the customer journey ends when they purchase the product. But not for the SaaS business model.
You see, the post-purchase stages are even more important than any other stage in the customer journey. That’s because, for a B2B SaaS business, keeping your customers happy is the key to success.
There are two post-purchase stages you can work on: the Retention stage and the Advocacy stage.
Retention Stage: The Retention stage is all about making sure that your customers are happy with your product and continue using it.
Your customer support and customer success teams play a big role at this stage.
First, you need a smooth onboarding process to help new customers get started with your product.
And not only should your customer support team be there to troubleshoot any problems they may encounter. Your customer success department should also proactively help them achieve their goals with your SaaS product.
While that’s going on, your marketing team can still contribute by continuously providing them with valuable content. This includes how-to guides, best practices, and more educational materials.
Advocacy Stage: The Advocacy stage is where customers become your biggest fans and start promoting your product for you
This doesn’t happen automatically. You need to actively encourage it. And the best way to do that is by asking for customer testimonials and case studies.
You can also create loyalty programs to reward customers that stick with you. Or give them exclusive access to new features and products.
And don’t forget about user-generated content (UGC). This is when customers create their own content like reviews, blog posts, or social media posts about your product.
It’s some of the most powerful SaaS marketing assets you can get since it leverages social proof.
Encouraging UGC can be as simple as making it easy for customers to leave reviews on your website or social media page. Or you can run contests where the best piece of UGC wins a prize.
Final Thoughts About B2B SaaS
Developing and selling a B2B SaaS product can be one of the most lucrative and rewarding businesses you can start today. But it’s not without its challenges.
To sum it all up, there are a few non-negotiable things you need to do when you’re selling a B2B SaaS solution.
- Know who you’re selling to.
- Make sure what you’re selling is something they actually need.
- Have a thorough plan of how you’re selling it to them.
- Keep your customers happy.
If you can do all of those things, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful B2B SaaS business.
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