What is SaaS sale?

SaaS sales are the act of selling cloud-based software to a business in an attempt to help it solve a problem and cultivate its growth. The software can be access through a monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription.

This pricing model ensures that customers continuously generate profit for the software company. As for who’s in charge of the sale itself, it’s generally operated by two roles in the organization.

You have the Sales Development Reps (SDR). They handle outbound sales and generate qualified leads.

A Man Conducting an Online Interview

And then you have the Business Development Managers (BDMs) who will handle product demos and converting prospects into actual clients. Due to these overlapping roles, the SDR and BDM team should work in concert to carry out a successful SaaS rep model tactic.

So what is a SaaS sales strategy that you should follow? Is there a one-size-fits-all category for the entire industry?

Basic SaaS Sales Strategy

The short is no, there’s no uniform SaaS sales process since every software solves different pain points. However, there are strategic foundations that every SaaS rep model should follow.


1. Creating a customer avatar

Put simply, your customer avatar represents the fictional customers you’re trying to acquire. Unlike traditional marketing, however, a SaaS marketing sales strategy is more specialized.

This is because SaaS products – SalesForce, Dropbox, Slack, Rake – are targeting businesses instead of individual customers. As such, you’ll need to ask different questions relating to the service you’re offering.

These questions can be:

  • What problems are you solving?
  • Can your product decrease your customer’s expenses?
  • Can your product increase your customer’s profits?
  • How can your product streamline your customer’s operation?
  • Who makes the financial decision in the company?
  • How can your product help with the growth of your customer’s business?

Mapping out these questions will help you get a clear picture of who your target audience is. That way, it’ll be easier for your SaaS sales rep to create a detailed approach in acquiring them.

As mentioned in our questionnaire list, you’ll be targeting the person who makes the final financial decision in the company. Thus, you’ll need to factor in psychographic information in your evaluation as well.

Here’s an example:

Megan is the CFO of a content marketing agency based in California with 100 employees. She’s always looking for ways to make her writers’ job easier as this helps lower employee turnover. 

Megan is between 30-50 years old and lives in the city with her husband and three children. While she trusts her own research in making financial decisions for her company, she also places a premium on referrals from her professional peers. Megan spends her free time on social media but also uses it to analyze customer satisfaction of different brands and services. 

She favors her laptop more than her smartphone, which is why it’s difficult to reach her, especially during business hours. Megan habitually checks her emails first thing in the morning before she tackles her daily tasks. 

With this in the hands of your SaaS sales rep, they’re able to get a clearer picture of your ideal customer. In turn, they’ll know how to communicate with them, the best time of day to reach them, and the things that they prioritize in their company. In Megan’s case, the satisfaction of her writers.

Of course, before you can craft such an elaborate customer persona, you’ll need in-depth knowledge about your target. So conduct diligent research, interviews, and data collection to be as accurate as you can.


2. SaaS Sales Funnel

Now that you have your customer avatar, it’s time to plan your SaaS sales funnel approach. In this regard, an e-commerce business and a SaaS company are pretty similar but with a few key differences.

You might’ve heard of AIDA, which stands for Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action. Think of this as an inverted pyramid where Attention is at the top and Action is at the bottom.

With every stage, the funnel gets narrower and narrower. This is due to the difficulty of guiding the customer from one level to the next until they finally make the final purchase.

So let’s break AIDA down.

  • Awareness – this is where your customer becomes aware of the service you’re offering. This awareness could’ve come from ads, blogs, social media, or word of mouth.
  • Interest – here, the customer evaluates your product and compares it to other similar services. They’re trying to determine whether the software is the best for their particular business.
  • Desire – the prospect has moved down the funnel and is one step away from acquiring your service. They’ll visit your sales page, evaluate customer satisfaction, or would even reach out to your SaaS sales rep.
  • Action – this is where your customer decides to acquire or decline your service. Your BDM will need to be on top of their game to close out the deal.

In e-commerce, most of them stop at the Action stage as they’ve now managed to sell a product. Sure, they would still nurture their customer to get them to buy again. But the usual process only revolves around the four steps above.

SaaS sales strategy is different as it adds a couple more steps. Let’s look at them.


Trial or Demo

Most SaaS companies provide a limited trial version of their product to showcase the software’s capabilities. How long this will take is a point of contention among experts.

Some choose a 30-day free trial, while others argue it should be shortened to 14 days. Close CEO Steli Efti heavily advocates the latter point. He said that the shorter the trial, the lower the chances of the customer getting lost in the SaaS sales cycle.

A shorter trial period will accelerate the customer’s movement in the pipeline as well. As for where the trial period fits in with the AIDA structure, it occupies the space between Desire and Action.



After closing a deal with a customer, your next step is to nurture loyalty. This is done through outreach, engagement, community development, listening to feedback, and software improvement.

Loyalty is incredibly important to a SaaS company since it ensures a client becomes a repeat customer.

Moreover, once a customer becomes loyal, it’s easier to get them to advocate your product to their professional peers. And since word of mouth is a powerful tool in finding new clients, it could increase your customer base even further.


3. Upselling to your customer through added value

This is a tricky part of the SaaS sales process model as you’re selling to a customer who is already familiar with your product. Remember, they know exactly its capabilities. As such, they may be hesitant to pay more as they may already be contented with the current subscription model they’re using.

But upselling, when done right, is incredibly profitable for a SaaS company. After all, while it’s difficult to sell to existing customers, it’s far more challenging to acquire new clients.

So how can you upsell to people who are already satisfied with their current plan? One of the best SaaS sales process tactics here is to leverage the existing data from your product.

Monitor how they’re using the features of their plan and see if upgrading to a higher subscription model makes sense in their case. Maybe their usage limit of certain features only lasts 15 days. That could tell you their current plan isn’t comprehensive enough to cover the usual monthly processes.

Another strategy is to position the premium model as a means for them to generate more profit. Explain to them clearly and comprehensively the benefit of upgrading from their current plan to the premium version. In other words, highlight the premium feature’s value to justify the price.


Foundations of an Effective SaaS Sales Rep

As you may have guessed by now, all SaaS sales cycle strategy hinges on your SaaS sales rep team’s performance. As such, your SDRs and BDMs should be in-synced throughout the SaaS sales model pipeline to smoothly guide the customer through each stage.

And even though both roles have distinct duties to play, they also follow similar foundations. Here are three of them.


1. The best SaaS sales rep understand it’s a number’s game

A SaaS sales rep needs to be persistent to achieve success. According to WideAngle, a SaaS sales rep should be doing at least 50 calls a day. That’s because it takes an average of 18 dials to connect with a prospect. Moreover, call-back rates are typically around one percent.

But once these connection has been established, you already have one foot through the door. So instruct your SaaS sales reps to be persistent and increase their number to reflect the above call average.

Ken Moo