Selling software-as-a-service (SaaS) doesn’t end after the deal closes. It requires continuously proving your value so customers keep their subscriptions and buy additional features as they go.
This means your SaaS sales strategy has to be repeatable at scale in a world where customers are demanding personalization more than ever before.
What are SaaS sales and how do they differ from other types of sales?
SaaS sales are transactions where a customer purchases web-based software. They’re not responsible for downloading software to their device or storing it on their own servers.
Because SaaS companies pay to host the software for their customers in the cloud, SaaS solutions are often sold on a subscription-based pricing model. This requires sales and product teams to continuously iterate on the value of their product and focus on reducing churn, while also bringing in new business.
How do SaaS sales typically work?
SaaS sales work best when marketing and customer success move in lock-step with sales teams to educate existing customers and troubleshoot their problems.
SaaS sales process
Your sales process defines how sales, marketing, and customer success work together to meet sales goals. Most companies use a combination of the following SaaS sales models: self-service, transactional, or enterprise sales.
A self-service model, or product-led growth, requires little to no support from an actual sales rep, account executive, or support team. Instead, customers find, buy, and troubleshoot your product on their own. Self-service products are typically less expensive, and in return, the customer expects less support.
SaaS companies trended towards self-service in 2023, since more than 81% of SaaS clients reportedly want more autonomy. Here’s the breakdown of labor:
Sales: Little to no activity. Instead, customers rely on templates and educational content
Marketing: Generates both awareness in your target audience, and signups to a free trial
Customer Success: Automation and an in-depth knowledge base support active customers
A transactional sales model is a hybrid between hands-on selling and self-service. Sellers are responsible for a high volume of transactions that take place over a very short sales cycle, and customers expect minimal contact from their sales reps.
Educational content, automation, and an in-depth knowledge base are still required for transactional sales to be successful. Customers expect to receive contracts and product updates from a seller and to have a point of contact if there’s a problem. Here’s the breakdown of labor:
Sales: Conducts outbound outreach and closes deals with product demos done at a high volume
Marketing: Responsible for qualifying and generating leads with educational content and automation
Customer Success: Supports chat or ticketing systems, prioritizing higher-paying accounts
An enterprise sales model requires a larger sales team. Each representative focuses on account-based selling to fewer, more targeted accounts. Enterprise sales teams typically sell products at a higher price.
Customers expect to get personal support for more stakeholders, with points of contact from sales and support. Here’s the breakdown of labor:
Sales: Supports the account through the entire customer journey
Marketing: Generates awareness and builds a customer relationship through events or experiences
Customer Success: Gives high priority support, and includes product marketing and engineering
SaaS sales funnel
Your sales funnel guides your team through their internal processes. This is not to be confused with the sales cycle, which is how your customers experience their buyer journey.
Every SaaS sales funnel could look different depending on the product you’re selling, but every funnel will include some form of awareness, consideration, engagement, purchase, retention and up-sell.
Awareness: This is when a potential customer becomes aware of your product, either through sales outreach or marketing team efforts.
Consideration: That customer indicates enough interest in your product to become a qualified lead in your sales pipeline. A demo is given and sales negotiations begin.
Engagement: A customer has talked with sales at least once. At this stage, it’s the seller’s responsibility to keep in contact, get questions answered, pain points addressed, and close the deal.
Purchase: The deal closes at this stage, and sales stays in close contact through onboarding to nurture the relationship and minimize churn.
Retention/Up-sell: Sales continue to keep in contact with their customer to sell them more relevant features or products, retaining them and increasing their value as a customer.
SaaS sales cycle
Your sales cycle should describe a customer experience as they discover, consider, purchase, and reconsider your SaaS product.
Usually, the goal is to shorten the sales cycle–you want people to make a purchase as quickly as possible to maximize the value of each account. Sales cycles tend to get longer when the cost of the product is higher, the churn rate is lower, and when a lot of up-selling has to be done to maximize the value of an account.
If you’ve got to shorten your sales cycle, consider:
Shortening your free trial period
Reworking sales content so that value is communicated more quickly, and more personally
Rework marketing content so that education happens before outreach
Postclick shortened their sales cycle by introducing personalized video as a part of their sales outreach strategy. When sales representatives were empowered to record quick videos, they reduced the amount of email back-and-forth, calls, and meetings needed to engage a prospect.
Overall, Postclick customers are more satisfied and their sales team strengthened their rapport with clients, which can make or break new contracts.
4 SaaS sales strategies that always work
Successful SaaS sales reps have a few tried-and-true sales techniques up their sleeves for closing deals at scale—they include free trials, cold calling and emailing, and social selling. But SaaS selling is most successful when you put a personal touch on efforts at scale.
1. Free trial
A free trial allows a potential customer to try your product for free, usually for a limited time. Most companies use an opt-in, or opt-out method.
The opt-in method gives a customer a free trial without requiring a payment method. They'll have to provide one when the trial expires, whereas the opt-out method requires a payment method upfront that will be automatically charged once a free trial has expired.
The average free trial conversion rate for opt-in trials is 18.20% while for opt-out it is 48.80%.
Providing people the opportunity to use your product for free is a great way to ensure your team is reaching out to really interested people—there’s no better signal than actually signing up to test out a product.
2. Cold outreach
You might think reaching out cold over email is a great way to get ignored–but that’s only true if your messages aren’t personal. Only 8.5% of cold emails get a reply, but most of those are generic.
If you don’t personalize a subject line your open rate will likely be about 16.67%. That increases to over 35% when you personalize your message.
3. Social selling
Social selling is when sellers engage prospects through social media. Those who use social selling close 50% more SaaS business than those who don’t—if it’s used correctly.
Follow up and engage with potential customers on social media to collect information and make your outreach more personal over more direct channels, like email.
4. Build a personal connection
Building a personal connection is the key to making any of these SaaS sales strategies work.
While it’s easy to automatically drop a prospect’s name into a subject line and call it personalized, building a real connection often takes time, and requires face-to-face interactions.
Loom equips sales teams with the ability to build those personal connections without the need for a meeting. You can record quick, personalized video messages that build a real connection asynchronously.
Intercom was able to increase cold email outreach ROI from inbound lead generation with this strategy. They felt their existing emails weren’t compelling enough—they knew they needed more personalization.
They started using Loom to send videos, and their cold email reply rate increased by 19%.
The best part was that they didn’t have to sacrifice their sales team’s efficiency. They built a quick template for their sales teams to use when recording, so videos could be created quickly.
How to track SaaS sales metrics
You’ll know if your efforts are successful by tracking just a few of the most important SaaS sales metrics. Those include:
Churn rate: The percentage of customers who stop using your product over a defined time period.
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR): The revenue you predict month over month. Because most SaaS products are sold as subscriptions, this is widely considered one of the most important SaaS sales metrics.
Customer lifetime value (CLTV): The revenue you make from one customer over the lifetime of their account. This is important for deciding how much to spend acquiring new customers.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC): The total cost of acquiring a new customer.
Generally, you want churn rates and CAC to be low and MRR and CLTV to be high. Sales teams can directly impact these numbers by making sure customers have the right expectations of a product before they buy it, overseeing onboarding closely to minimize churn, targeting higher-paying leads, and working with other internal teams to create an in-depth knowledge base.
SaaS sales tools
The right sales tools can make or break the success of a SaaS sales team. You’ll need the basics—a customer resource management (CRM) tool, LinkedIn sales navigator, and email—but you’ll also need to empower your sales team to build connections that close deals.
Loom is a powerful tool for sales prospecting and customer success. Simply sending a Loom instead of an email builds a more personal connection by including a face-to-face interaction.
Sales professionals can use Loom as a video prospecting tool by sharing their faces and their screens, and quickly sending personalized demos or product walkthroughs. It’s easy to use because videos can be sent anywhere, via email, chat, or using a live link.
Plus, videos are interactive and allow sellers to link to their calendar, pitch deck, webinars, or website directly within the video through customizable calls to action (CTAs).
If you’re looking for a way to make your sellers more efficient and build more personal connections with customers and prospects, try sending a Loom for free today.