Over the past few years, sales processes have undergone a massive transformation. The customer buying pattern is no longer the same. No matter how much a sales person tries to convince prospects over an email, call, or a personal chat, they want to explore the product unaided and decide.
It is understandable as product-led growth (PLG) is the equivalent of the next big space revolution in the B2B SaaS space. The best way for SaaS companies to understand, adapt, and embrace this shift is to change their sales processes and go-to-market (GTM) strategies. It will ensure that you can stay competitive!
We want to help you get a head start by reducing the sales process timeline so that you don't have to worry about it.
Let us dive right in!
First, the basics: Understanding the SaaS sales process.
What is a SaaS sales process?
The definition of the SaaS sales process has kept evolving because of the change in SaaS sales. In the current scenario, a SaaS sales cycle involves selling web-based or cloud software to customers. It includes selling to new prospects or up-selling new features or add-ons to existing customers.
An ideal SaaS sales process timeline does not exist. The length of the SaaS sales process varies based on the prospect, product, and annual contract value (ACV). Suppose your SaaS product has a high price point or includes extensive resources for implementation. In that case, fixing a particular SaaS process timeline is difficult as it requires more thought, attention, and nurturing.
How do you reduce the sales process timeline?
To reduce the sales process timeline, the first step is to understand the six stages of a typical SaaS sales process. Once you do that, it is easier to ace every stage and eventually achieve an optimum sales process timeline.
Let us jump right in!
Stage 1 - Prospecting potential customers
Prospecting is when your Sales or Customer Success team identifies and begins communicating with potential customers who will be willing to move forward with your product. Prospecting is not easy and is exceptionally focused on research. It involves using data from various sources to identify and zero in on prospects.
So, how do you ace prospecting? Here are a few tips!
Identify your ideal customer profile (ICP): Spend some time and effort collecting qualitative and quantitative data about your prospects and customers, especially in your early stages of prospecting.
Why do you need to do this? Because it helps you filter out customers who are most successful and who are not. It will help you shape your user persona for your product.
With the data collected, you can also include industries and demographics that bring in the most revenue and interest to your company. Doing this will help you convert more prospects. By zeroing in on the most common industries and demographics, you will be able to shape your ideal ICP and, in turn, increase the probability of moving prospects down the sales funnel.
Learn it from subject matter experts: They have insights about the space you want to focus on and the products or industry-specific to your prospects.
You can consult such subject matter experts or onboard them as a full-time employees to assist you in understanding your prospects. You will be able to reach out to prospects better — by learning about their preferred communication style, wants, needs, pain points, and the best time and medium to reach them.
For example, a subject matter expert aware of Customer relationship management (CRM) products will help you uncover that a phone call may not be the best way to sell to developers.
Introduce your product early in the buying cycle: Don't assume your prospects know nothing about your product space. They might be doing their research on your product category.
There are also numerous networks they get information, reviews, and feedback from, such as Slack communities, G2, and Capterra. So, make sure your product is listed there with genuine reviews and ratings.
The key to acing this stage is to first get in front of prospects. The first products to be noticed are always the best; that product needs to be yours.
Want to know the best way you can do this? It is simple — create interactive product demos with Storylane and share them widely even before you set off prospecting. Doing this lets your prospects get a taste of your product and the opportunity to access information right from the source.
Stage 2 - Qualifying prospects
Qualifying means assessing if a lead or prospect is an appropriate fit for your product. Qualifying is essential because this is when you determine which prospects will move successfully through the entire sales process, and ultimately become long-term customers.
The qualifying process starts with demoing your product to a pool of leads from different channels. And the biggest mistake you can make is having your prospect wait a little longer than others to see your product.
Usually, the average response time to a demo request is 3 days or more. Even in the B2B world, customers expect instant access to your product.
So, how do you quickly move through the qualifying stage? Here are some tips:
Make your Customer Success team readily available: Prospects will have many questions, but they will not have the time to wait for answers. Empower your sales team to share self-serve interactive product demos instead of static pdf or outdated videos. By doing this, your sales team will feel confident and equipped to clear your prospects' doubts.
Share product demos well in advance: Send across interactive product demos or product tours before your prospects get on a sales call. This helps educate your prospect and allows them to come to a product demo, or sales call prepared and qualify themselves further.
Here is an example from one of our customers — Autogrid. When Autogrid wanted to train their sales and engineering demo team, Storylane made it effortless for them.
"The demo creation process was extremely simple, and the feedback from employees has been overwhelmingly positive."
— Dr. Amit Narayan, CEO of Autogrid.
Adopt a blended discovery and demonstration approach: This step can be new to many, especially if your company is still in the early start-up stage. However, this hybrid approach helps you qualify prospects by showing them the product in one call instead of multiple calls. The more a prospect gets product access earlier in the cycle via product tours, videos, free trials, etc., the further reduced the qualification process can be.
Not just that, you can collect data on product touchpoints and engagements to streamline which features might be useful to them.
Stage 3 - Demonstrating the product
Demonstrating the product is taking the time to show your product and how it can benefit your prospect. That does not mean you need to offer a full-scale demonstration. You can get started by focussing on a prospect's primary pain points. Using the data you've collected so far, should help narrow down your focus.
How do you achieve an effective product demonstration? Find some quick tips below:
Don't use the same approach for all prospects: There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to a product demo. Your prospects come onto the demo call with a lot of product knowledge and research. They are more educated and aware than before. Use tailor-made personalized demos to show them what they are looking for and reduce their effort to understand your product.
Keep your demos short: Your prospects' time and attention span are limited. A standard demo can last from 30 minutes to an hour. Respect your prospects' time, and keep your demos short and to the point.
In these demos, share your product's new features with prospects who want to partner with you from the beginning.
They're also more likely to be champions of your product. If you are looking for more tips to prepare for a successful product demo, check out these additional reads:
Stage 4 - Negotiating a deal
At the negotiating stage, your prospect is nearly ready to buy. They want to first ensure they're getting the best price and service possible from you compared to other products out there in the market. Though there isn't much that you can do about pricing, you can always show them value creation through your product features.
How do you do the best negotiating? Check out these simple and effective tips below:
Identify your prospects' cues: Negotiating is nothing but a different form of selling. And what does selling require? A certain level of understanding of body language and communication. This is possible during in-person demos and video calls where you can see the prospect's interactions.
Make it easy on the decision-makers: After you give a demo, what if your prospects want to explore your product more? You can send a sales leave-behind of interactive demo. By doing so you can help other key decision-makers in your prospect's company see the value your product offers.
In the B2B SaaS space, multiple stakeholders play a part in the buying decision. Not only will your prospects be enabled to build trust with your product internally in their company, but will also help to establish lasting customer relationships.
Stage 5 - Closing deals
It is in this stage your sales or customer success team offers their final pitch. You have to answer any remaining questions and convert your prospect into a customer.
How do you become a pro at closing deals? You can try out the following tips:
Be prepared for rejection: Don't get demotivated if a prospect does not sign up. Take it as an opportunity to learn and see what you could have done differently.
Use Buyer Collaborative tool: This is where there is a fifty-fifty chance for a deal to happen. Make sure the buyer has visibility at every step . Tools like journey, enable.us, dock.us etc helps streamline this process
Get e-sign tools: Have an easy-to-use signature software like DocuSign to sign deals so that you don't miss a deal due to a signature pending.
Stage 6 - Nurturing customers
Your prospects have now become your customers. Hurray! You aced the five stages, but it is not over yet. There is much that needs to be done. Customers need nurturing to see and experience the full value of your product. Only then will they turn into loyal brand ambassadors.
Nurturing translates to onboarding new customers, educating them, and easing them through any transition or training processes.
How can you ensure you nurture your customers properly? These tips will make it easier for you!
Onboarding is crucial: Onboarding is an important step to ensure your customers have a seamless and delightful experience when they first start using your product. If your customers aren’t happy with your onboarding, they will eventually shift to a competitor's product or share a negative experience of your product.
Use onboarding tutorials: With Storylane, you can onboard your customers easily and enable them to help themselves right from the start. Build a library of self-guided tutorials so you can onboard, support, and train customers so that they can succeed quickly.
Keep the education ongoing: Always leave your customers with enough educational materials. Create guided tours and walkthroughs as training guides for your customers. These materials should help them use the product, get assistance when they need help with a feature, and enrich their product experience.
Include visual documentation of your product: With Storylane, you can build visual, engaging product guides in minutes that helps to:
- Enhance your help articles by embedding visual product guides
- Provide quick responses to inquiries with easy sharing of visual guides as links
- Collect insights on how customers are using these guides and optimize them for their satisfaction and retention
In closing, we would like to give you a quick tip: Send product announcements, newsletters, and webinars to keep customers up-to-date on key features and product news that would be of interest to them.