Let me start by saying that I LOVE SaaS. I love using SaaS. I love helping SaaS companies. I love running my own SaaS company. And I really, really love building SaaS sales teams.
It’s an exciting time to be in SaaS, and opportunity is everywhere.
But there are also a lot of uniquely modern sales challenges to overcome. It’s important that sales leaders acknowledge, and address these challenges head-on with their salespeople. When we train our teams for the realities of today’s selling environment, we arm them to compete and win.
It’s sales, marketing
, and product
The thing is, these challenges aren’t squarely on the shoulders of sales because marketing and product share in the responsibility to overcome them. But sales is on the front line and bears the day-to-day responsibility to meet these challenges head-on.
Help your salespeople attack these challenges rather than ignore them. Because for every challenge, there’s an opportunity if you look at it from the right angle.
Four SaaS sales challenges
Challenge 1: Buyers are busy and overwhelmed.
This challenge really applies to any industry or product type, not just SaaS. Buyers are busy. They have tons on their plate. They are getting pulled in lots of different directions. They are juggling lots of varied responsibilities. They don’t always know what their priorities should be because their companies are evolving and shifting constantly. Getting and sustaining buyer attention can be a real challenge.
Opportunity: Sellers need to have empathy for this state of busyness. Empathy will help them hone their messages to the essentials, build value in all their outreach, and respect the time & attention of their buyers. Across the entire organization messages and content needs to be designed with simplicity in mind—leveraging content to cut through the clutter, and provide real value quickly. Communication, whether from marketing or sales, needs to be essential, relevant and useful.
Challenge 2: SaaS buyers can be pretty fickle.
SaaS is “easy to try” (at least that’s the myth), and there are lots of products within any particular vertical. LOTS of products (see #3). This can cause
Opportunity: Here’s where the product really needs to do the heavy lifting. To reduce the fickle nature of buyers your product needs to be obviously indispensable. The key is designing products that provide value quickly and show wins for the buyer with minimal effort in an elegant way. It also needs to be easy to try and easy to buy. Easy is relative to your market and your competitors. Just remember you want to be the easiest to try and buy for your ideal customers. And then you want to instantly be able to demonstrate value in helping your customers achieve their desired outcomes.
Challenge 3: Buyers have so, so, so many choices.
The SaaS Report estimates there are 10,000 private Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. There are 6,500+ marketing technology companies alone and about 800 in the sales tech landscape. What must there be in finance, HR
Opportunity: This is where sales, marketing, and product all converge. Products, messages, and sellers need to be authentically different and be black and white about those differences. You need branding that buyers instantly connect to and want to be aligned with. You need to understand your ideal customer profile and be forthright about that. Being broad—everything to everybody simply doesn’t work unless you are already the category leader. To get to leadership status you have to be laser focused on who your product is right for early on. Salespeople need to provide an exceptionally good, differentiated sales experience. Empathetic, honest salespeople win in this environment, and they have to be well-educated about the market and competition so they can provide actual insights and have thoughtful conversations.
Someone wise recently said to me, as it relates to SaaS products, “Better isn’t better. Different is better.” Your marketing, your product, and your sales experience
Challenge 4: Buyers
are weary. And wary.
Buyers are weary from all the relentless information coming at them (again, #3) and the overwhelm that comes from parsing what’s important, what isn’t, what their requirements are, what product can actually deliver on those requirements, what the real-world user experience will be after purchase, what vendor they believe in, etc. They are wary from being burned by spending time, money and energy on SaaS products that didn’t live up to expectations, or deliver ROI.
Opportunity: This is another opportunity for
Hit a home run, despite the challenges
All of these challenges aside, it’s an exciting time to be in SaaS, and none of these “challenges” outweigh the fantastic opportunity ahead for companies, salespeople and buyers. There are transformative solutions out there that solve important problems and SaaS is the lowest overhead, easiest maintenance, fastest time to market there is. Yes, it is a very exciting time to be selling SaaS.