7 ways to create urgency in B2B sales (and close deals faster)
When selling SaaS products to businesses and enterprises, how can you move the sale ahead when a prospect is stalling? What can you do to accelerate the sale and close the deal sooner?
There are essentially three ways of creating urgency in SaaS sales.
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1. Limited alpha
If your product is new, or you release a major new plan, you can invite them to a limited alpha.
You could limit this to 10 seats.
Tell your prospect:
- "This looks like a really great fit, but I want you to know that we are going to run a limited alpha—which means that only 10 companies will get access to our product. We currently have around 40 companies interested in participating. We're now trying to identify which ones will be the best candidates for this alpha, so that we'll be able to support and turn them into massive success stories."
- "You'll have to make a decision within ____ (the next x days/weeks) because we'll launch the alpha on ____ (state a date)."
- "It's first-come, first-serve. So whenever one company that we believe to be a great fit decides to go ahead, they get the next limited spot."
- "We only have four more spots left, let's make sure that we don't lose this opportunity. So let me give you all the information and support you need to be able to make a decision as quickly as possible."
By limiting access to your product you create scarcity, which creates urgency to make a decision and enhances the perceived value of your offer.
2. Upcoming price increases
As your product grows and matures, and you offer more value, you'll probably going to increase the price of your product. Many established SaaS companies do this, maybe once a year or sometimes even multiple times a year.
Announce your price increases in advance to existing customers and prospects (click here to read more about this strategy).
It's a great incentive for them to make a quick buying decision so that they can lock in at the current (lower) pricing.
For instance, when Amazon Prime prices increased, they gave new sign-ups a chance to beat the price increase if they bought within one week.
3. Make them an offer they can't refuse
Run a special promotion, or give the prospect a special deal. There are four kinds of incentives SaaS businesses can offer:
"If you buy this week, you'll get a 10% discount, so you'll save x00 dollars every year per seat that you buy now."
- Special features or higher tier plans
"If you buy in June, you're going to get the business version of our product for the basic price plan."
It's basically also a discount—the difference is that you increase the value rather than lower the price.
- Buy 1, get 2
"If you buy in June, you'll get a free seat for every seat that you purchase. So if you buy three seats, you'll actually get six seats." Buy 1, get 1 free works for SaaS businesses too :)
- Special services
"If you buy this week, you're going to get our Advanced Customer Acquisition training package for free." Think about special support packages, consulting packages, training, onboarding ... whatever it is. Any kind of special service to help them succeed with your SaaS product. (For example, look at HubSpot's $2,000 "Inbound Success Training" package, which is mandatory when you buy their pro plan. Lowering the price of this package, or even giving it away for free, can be a great incentive to push a stalling prospect towards a quick purchasing decision.)
4. Countdown timers
Countdown timers have been used (and overused) in both marketing and sales for many years already, but they can still be effective when used well. In his blog post How Creating a Sense of Urgency Helped Me Increase Sales 332% Marcus Taylor gave a breakdown of a well-executed use of countdown timers for an online course.
I managed to increase my conversion rate from 2.5% to 10.8%.
While there were a range of factors that influenced this increase, the single largest factor was increasing the amount of scarcity and urgency.
The countdown timer was just one element responsible for this increase, but in the specific test Marcus ran, he saw a 147% increase in conversions.
5. Use questions to focus the prospect on the cost of delaying a buying decision
If a prospect has engaged with you until this point, they have some problem they hope your solution can solve, or see some potential benefit your solution could generate for them.
What often happens in the sales process is that the focus on the prospect's problem gets lost, while an overly excited sales rep keeps talking about the features of the product, other customer case studies, and on and on.
What you want to do instead is to make sure that the prospect is vividly aware of their unsolved problem, and all the good that could come out of solving it.
You can do this by asking questions:
- Let's take a step back and think about what problem you're trying to solve.
- When would be the best time to solve this problem?
- What's the hidden cost of not solving this problem now?
- How does this problem affect the revenue [or whatever the metric they care most about is] of your organization?
- How many people in your organization is affected by this problem? And who?
- How would solving this problem affect you personally?
- What would be the best way of demonstrating to your boss that this is a problem worth solving? And if it was solved, what would be the best metric to measure the success of the solution?
- What's the most frustrating aspect of this problem?
Check out our list of 13 B2B sales questions for even more questions that help you bring deals to the finish line.
6. Leverage seasonality
In some cases you can use seasonal trends to create a sense of urgency. Let's say it's September and your prospect typically sees a huge increase in sales during the months leading up to the Christmas holidays.
You can make a point that if they buy now and get things up and running before the busy season really kicks in, they'll benefit from it in the upcoming high-transaction period. If your solution makes their processes more efficient, you can make a case for how your solution will help them stay sane and waste less time on inefficient work. If your solution helps generate more value, you can make a case that it would be a shame to miss out on the potential of the upcoming holiday sales.
7. Understand their buying process
This is of the most important, and yet most commonly overlooked parts of the sales process. I call it the "virtual close". In a nutshell, it's about asking the question "What are the steps we need to go through together for you to become a customer?".
There's a bit more to it, and I've written in detail about how to do it in the past in my blog post Want to close more deals? Ask this question!
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