By Dina Moskowitz
Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of SaaS executives and hundreds of solution providers who are beginning to sell SaaS solutions to their customers. Since market acceptance and adoption of SaaS is projected to grow like gangbusters in 2013, I’d like to share with you the 10 most frequently mentioned tips I’ve heard for successfully selling SaaS to business customers.
Whether you are an app vendor selling your own SaaS/cloud solution, or a solution provider/reseller/trusted advisor who is selling others’ SaaS/cloud solutions, these 10 tips are sure to improve your chances of closing a sale.
1. More than 75 percent of people are already using a SaaS/cloud app — they just don't know it. Many companies already use WebEx, Gmail or other popular cloud apps. Bring it to their attention and alleviate the fear of the unknown.
2. Know when you are pitching a "new concept" versus a "new paradigm." A new concept is a solution that has never been available before this app. A new paradigm is a solution that does things better and/or less expensively than other like products. Shape your sales pitch appropriately.
3. Don't get too SaaS-y. Clearly communicate what the SaaS/cloud solution does, for whom and what problems it solves. Too many vendors and resellers can do so much better than what we’re seeing out there. Try this test: Ask some non-interested parties if they understand your sales pitch when hearing it or reading it.
4. Saas Sales 101: Don't cloud the sale with cloud lingo. Shape your pitch around conversation about the end user’s pain points, not the cloud. List out all the positive features of the SaaS/Cloud solution and it benefits their company.
5. Be your own best reference account. Show your customers how your company uses SaaS products to improve productivity and/or efficiencies.
6. Saas = money saved and budget optimization. SaaS apps typically provide great TCO and ROI advantages over native apps. Be ready to demonstrate these figures in your initial pitch through calculators and case studies.
7. Be a wiseSaaS. Take the time to use or demo the SaaS/cloud app yourself as if you were the customer. Understand the usability, strengths and weaknesses so that you can address questions professionally, not defensively. Incorporate the vendor’s product road map into your pitch if new and exciting features are on the horizon.
8. Provide consistent sales and marketing messages. Make sure your messaging is consistent across all sales and marketing communications including the sales pitch, on the website, in the marketing collateral and ads.
9. Identify your product champion early on and engage all of the appropriate decision makers. When selling into an organization, you want the buy-in of your product champion, the executive with the purchasing power, and the IT services professional. Time is money — don’t spend time meeting with the wrong people.
10. Be the good guy with the IT guys. When in the market for SaaS/cloud apps, more and more decision makers are excluding IT. This causes friction in their organizations and increases the likelihood of churn for you. Always remember that the IT professionals are tasked with protecting the company’s data and infrastructure. Be the one to pull the IT guy into the sales process and improve your long-term success.
Dina Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of SaasMAX Inc., a Saas distribution, marketplace and channel management platform.