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How to Sell SaaS Software

Table of contents

This is a series of blog posts where we get inside the head of salespeople – tools, tips, tactics, and processes. We ask them and summarize it for you.

Ben sells a cloud-based SaaS, software-as-a-service, that doesn’t store data on your computer and often doesn’t even require you to install anything, you just pay to use a webpage.

His clients range from large household names to small business owners.

“The software that I sell generally helps them either reducing the cost of running their business, or acquiring new customers.”

Role: Sales Development Representative
Geography: Europe
Type of sales: B2B
Tools: CRM, LinkedIn, Marketo, Gmail, Twitter, Brisk, Rapportive, Tweetdeck, Sidekick and Spreadsheets.

The art of convincing

“Aside from getting very stressed most of the time, I try and convince decision makers within a business to buy the products I’m selling. I act as a middleman between the company I’m working for and the company I’m speaking with. A good sale basically has to benefit both parties. If I see that benefit, then my role is to establish and demonstrate it to the right people at the right time.”

Ben tries to get in contact with the decision-makers, mainly through cold calls and emails. Once Ben gets a hold of one of the decision makers there are three outcomes.

“They might tell me to go away and that they never want to speak to me again – that’s a pretty common response. Number two, they’re semi-interested, but they need some time to think about the information. Then, number three, is that they immediately decide they like what you do and they would like to begin buying your product or at least begin the buying process. Generally, speaking, in the software world, the third option happens very rarely.”

Hardware vs. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)

Ben used to work at IBM.

“I used to sell computers, telephones, wires, and cables to companies. If it’s the last day of the quarter, or they have a budget spare, you can call up an IT director and get them to buy your product on the spot. You are negotiating with them over money. That’s all it is, it’s just a one or two ‘how-much-money-do-they-want-to-spend’ conversations.”

“I worked with a really good salesperson, who tweeted a CEO a couple of times explaining what they do in one sentence – and the CEO got it.”

“About the idea of selling software, some of the more forward-thinking sales trainers are suggesting that traditional methods are dying out and new technology is sparking different ways of getting in touch with companies. I worked with a really good salesperson, who tweeted a CEO a couple of times explaining what they do in one sentence – and the CEO got it. He got the message immediately and he was on board. He liked the fact that this person had chosen to use an alternative method to get in touch with him.”

On average, Ben contacts about 30 people a day. How do you remember everything?

“This is where a CRM really comes into play. It’s not just about remembering who to call, but also, why I’m calling them. If you’re speaking to people from around the world, silly things like how to pronounce their name, or if there was a particular joke or conversation we had, are really worth noting down. It makes them know that you care about the conversation that you had. Most of the time, I spend on my telephone, on email and in the CRM. The sales CRM is obviously about tracking everything I’m doing.”

Sales tips

Ben uses TweetDeck to schedule tweets.

“There is a bit of a crossover between marketing sales and the line gets more blurred. A lot of salespeople tweet about their company and what they’re doing because it’s important, it helps the marketing guys getting the message out there.”

“Essentially, any objection or rejection is ultimately because the person that you’re trying to sell to doesn’t trust you.”

“I know it sounds rather cliché, but making them and yourself really comfortable, have a laugh with them, and trust your gut instinct. Essentially, any objection or rejection is ultimately because the person that you’re trying to sell to doesn’t trust you. If you can do one thing whenever you call, that is to get their trust. You do that just by being really normal. People will buy from me, not necessarily because my product is better than the other salesperson’s, but because they have a connection with me and they trust me.”

Here are some resources if you want to learn more about selling SaaS.

“We all change the way we are with people depending on who we’re talking with. I think the best salespeople I’ve met, really good salespeople that I get to work with, who are well above and beyond anything I could do, are like chameleons. In constant change depending on who they’re speaking to. I think they enjoy that process and don’t feel bad doing it. That’s why they’re good salespeople.”

The value

As Ben says, the way of selling has changed since SaaS tools and products entered the market. It’s a matter of selling something that most people don’t realize they need yet, and the salesperson’s role consists on creating this need. The value created should be important not only now – but in the long run.

In many cases, all you need is for the user to try your tool for a couple of days or weeks to actually see that the tool is helpful. That’s probably why many companies offer free tiers and freemium versions of their products.

But even getting people to start using a free tool can be hard nowadays – you don’t always get that chance. That is why you have to be clear when you are establishing the benefit and value of your product, just like Ben says. How do you do to communicate the value of your product?

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