SaaS marketers understand the difficult obstacles they need to overcome in advertising. They don’t offer tangible products, instead, their service lives in the trendy cloud. Often, only a handful of companies need the service. This means a marketer’s funnels need to be on point. Worse more, SaaS marketing often confuses vendors they’ve targeted in their sales funnel. This is because SaaS, as a concept, confuses decision makers.
If decision makers don’t understand the product, they won’t buy it.
This is why a great many SaaS products fail. All the venture capital money in the world can’t counter dreadful marketing efforts. SaaS without mission-oriented, intelligent marketing drifts out to sea. We don’t hear from it again.
Consider the following stat from Forentrepreneurs.com.
SaaS companies that spend more on marketing grow faster. See the visual chart below for evidence.
Sales and marketing serve the lifeblood of SaaS success. Marketing often comes down to strategic conversations. SaaS marketers need to understand how strategic conversations win new sales and encourage retention. Whether you market yourself, or hire representatives, refined conversations win business.
I will get to how to win a SaaS marketing conversation in a bit. For now, let’s start with the SaaS inception phase.
Solving The Problem Is A Start, But No Finish
SaaS products experience a high failure rate. Don’t allow tech blog writers to cloud your judgment. Writers avoid highlighting failed products, at least most of the time. Who wants to read about every failed SaaS venture?
Not me. Not you. Not anyone.
We love to read the glory, which means ignoring the failure. We seek inspiration, not bleakness.
Thus, we don’t get exposed to colossal defeats. But wouldn’t such exposure serve to make us better, more capable producers?
Like most new products, SaaS product marketing hinges on a single premise: does it solve a problem?
There is no better starting point for product creation than determining the need. If you solve a problem, you offer a solution, and solutions sell.
But SaaS is untypical marketing territory. Allow me to explain.
People have a difficult time scratching their backs. You’ve tried to scratch your back and experienced the frustration of coming up short. So someone invents a back scratcher to serve as an extension to your hand.
The simplicity of the backscratcher solves a problem. Simplicity markets itself. Who can’t understand the obvious value of a back scratcher?
In most cases, SaaS doesn’t function with simplicity. It can both solve a problem and confuse companies.
The SaaS marketer sells an idea to a company, but if the idea is complex, the marketer loses. The targeted company must understand the ease of use and implementation. If messaging fails, so does the SaaS product.
The Point: Solving a problem remains an essential first step. But it does not guarantee success.
How To Market Your SaaS Product
To begin, you need to understand that your targeted company doesn’t understand. Your marketing pitch sounds clear and concise to you, but to them, it is a riddle.
Let’s resolve this by inserting some value.
Inject SaaS Value Proposition
A SaaS marketer refines his or her pitch by creating a value proposition. The client must understand that your SaaS experience solves their problem.
You need to convey a message that sells.
According to a study by SiriusDecisions, only 10% of executives feel sales calls convey value. At least, enough value to inspire the executive to buy the product.
You solve a problem, but your SaaS sales pitch fails to convey this solution. This immediately places your SaaS product at risk to fail.
So let’s solve that.
To make things simple and clear, I break down SaaS marketing complications into two groups:
1) SaaS implementation
2) SaaS Usability
At this point of your pitch, the potential client knows the price range. They know the problem you claim a solution. In SaaS, the messaging troubles come when executives don’t understand implementation or usability.
If the executive doesn’t understand how to deploy the service, or how employees will use it, she/he will pass. For executives, change risks compromising efficiency, bloating quarterly reports, and creating company-wide frustration.
Corporate Visions helps Starbucks and Wells Fargo refine sales conversation strategy. Their value proposition lifecycle includes two core components: Value Wedge, Value Parity.
Within the value wedge, we find three pertinent items.
1) [attribute] Unique to you
2) [attribute] Important to the customer
3) [attribute] Defensible
Determine these three components of your sales relationship, transform your conversation.
The conversation between SaaS marketer and potential client transforms the selling experience.
The first phase involves overcoming buyer inaction. This is the place we create value. We can’t create value if our messaging confuses or bores. This is where your product’s unique attribute impresses the executive. The SaaS marketer needs to sell from the buyer’s perspective. This helps create value.
Solution: Create a concise message that illustrates your uniqueness. Make sure the messaging derives from the buyer’s perspective. Build an easily digestible overview of SaaS use and implementation.
Imagine your understanding of your SaaS product. You create a draft around that idea. At this point, given your expertise with the product, your message makes complete sense. But to your customer, it’s a perplexing labyrinth they refuse to navigate.
To solve, send the first draft to colleagues who have no prior knowledge of the product. You might consider those who understand the vertical, but not your product.
Next, call them and ask them to explain what your product does. Ask them to convey the value of your product to you.
Did they understand? What messaging obstacles seem to prevent them from comprehending its value? Did they realize how your SaaS experience is unique?
In most cases, working your first message draft down into a simpler form will help. The simpler you can make the message, the easier it should be to understand. Sending an initial messaging draft to colleagues helps you create a buyer’s perspective.
Remember, the questions you are answering are simple. How does the company deploy your product? How does the product help the company?
Aside from those two questions, all else is off-message. Your message can’t build a case for executive buy-in if the message confuses the executive.
Now You Sell The Executive
The executive understands how your SaaS product helps her company. She realizes that it can be easily installed across her 500 employees.
But she isn’t sold. She’s not inking any deals, at least not yet. You need to raise the value stakes. Raising the value stakes means building on the base value proposition. This means more complex messaging targeting deeper value perception.
At this stage, consider ancillary functions that build product worth. Some of this function potentially exist in your original value proposition draft. Remember, the original confusing messaging that you scaled down?
You now want to leverage all that added function and escalate the value.
To take action, create a list of value-added functions. Remember, pitch these functions only after the executive understands your initial value proposition.
Retention Minded Marketing – A Core Growth Lever
Unlocking the key to SaaS ROI means understanding the power of the recurring model. SaaS marketers must embrace the recurring model as a gateway to growth.
Retention marketing aims to convey a message of long-term success to the executive. In the same way, recurring billing benefits the SaaS company, it also serves the client well.
At this juncture in the conversation, it is important to build value through the product’s long-term application. Up to now, your pitch created an initial, universal value proposition. Next, you refined the pitch to include ancillary benefits.
Now, you want to convey a message of extended value. In other words, convince the executive that your SaaS product provides long-term value.
Executives mentally work in quarters, not months. An executive wants to see financial benefits occurring over 3 month periods. Or as long as a year.
For the SaaS marketer, their pitch plays well for long-term benefits. SaaS software should lower cost and add efficiency. A SaaS marketer that maximizes benefits happening over extended time periods wins.
It also helps infuses the long-term nature of the SaaS product into the executive mind.
Over half of SaaS companies believe that customer retention cost is the most essential statistic.
A marketer’s strategic initial retention conversation helps spawn a long-term mindset. You don’t want the company to stay, you need them to stay. Your SaaS growth depends on churn rate. If your churn rate amounts to fewer new sales than cancellations, you downtrend.
Executives yearn to discover the promise of impressive annual reports. Sell the promise, keep the promise, grow. This wins for both parties.
Statistics show that SaaS companies who leverage intelligent marketing grow. But SaaS conversations often turn out more complicated than need be. These poor conversations lose business and deter growth.
SaaS marketers implementing strategic conversations that create value win. Creating a buyer’s perspective in sales messaging sets a winning tone.
Following basic value proposition cadences enhance marketing conversations. They leverage a problem with a sophisticated solution.
Retention marketing starts early and is vital to a SaaS product’s success.