The Ultimate SaaS Sales Guide: 37 Tips for Selling B2B SaaS
SaaS is a billion-dollar industry. And it’s only going to get bigger. According to Statista, "In 2021, the software as a service (SaaS) market is estimated to be worth approximately 152 billion U.S. dollars and estimated to reach 208 billion U.S. dollars by 2023."
There is no better time than now to be in SaaS. But more opportunities mean more competition. If you want to lead the pack, you need to know how to sell SaaS.
That’s why we collected 37 of our best tips to help you master SaaS sales.
They’re divided into these core categories for you to read in order or skip to the section most relevant to you:
- Understand the foundations of SaaS sales
- Self-service SaaS or high-touch sales?
- Hire and pay sales reps
- Find the right customers
- Handle objections like a pro
- Give effective demos and trials
- Tracking metrics to improve the SaaS sales process
- Make your customers successful
- Know how to lose or fire customers the right way
What is SaaS?
The term ‘Software as a service’ (SaaS) refers to applications that are accessed online via the Internet. SaaS applications allow users to log in to an online platform and use the technology without having to purchase hardware or install software first. Common examples of SaaS applications would include online office tools (such as Microsoft Office and Google Suite), and online calendaring and scheduling tools.
One of the main benefits of utilizing web-based software is that users don’t need to maintain product updates for performance and security—the SaaS provider handles that on their own servers.
What is SaaS Sales?
SaaS sales is the process of selling web-based software. Sales representatives use both inbound and outbound sales strategies to identify leads, qualify prospects, educate them on the product, and eventually close deals.
While some SaaS products may be priced on a per-seat model (meaning a flat rate for each individual user login), others utilize a subscription model that provides tiered access and creates upsell opportunities for the sales team to work towards.
There’s a lot to learn about SaaS sales (including these essential tidbits that every sales professional selling SaaS needs to know). But if you’re ready to jump into best practices for closing deals, then hey, so are we. Let’s get to it!
Starting With the Right Foundation: General Tips and Myth-Busting You Need for SaaS Success
1. Your Product Doesn't Sell Itself
SaaS doesn’t sell itself. Having a great SaaS product is just the first step out of many to creating a successful startup. If you want to sell SaaS successfully, adjust your sales strategy to stop selling features. Focus on creating a desire for your product and delivering value.
2. 5 Myths About SaaS Sales You Probably Believe
You can’t sell until your product is perfect. Or can you? (The answer: You absolutely can, and should, sell your product early.) Discover what the other four myths about SaaS sales are and how to prevent them from hindering your success in SaaS sales.
3. 5 Pieces of Wisdom That Will Change How You Sell Your SaaS
We gathered insights from five of the best sales and SaaS experts to help you drive sales for your SaaS product. Millions of people ask for, and listen to, their advice because they’re at the top of their game—CEOs, founders, venture partners. Now, their top five sales tips are in one place for easy access.
4. Hard or Soft Selling: What Works Best for SaaS Sales Reps?
If the Wolf of Wall Street is your model of an ideal salesperson, you’re doing it wrong. When it comes to SaaS sales, people think you should either be super aggressive or very passive. Neither approach is right for winning the trust and business of prospects. Here’s why (and how you should sell instead).
5. How to Sell SaaS: 9 Tips for Startup Sales Success
Most startups fail. If you don’t want to be in that camp, there are certain things you need to do when it comes to selling SaaS. After working with and watching thousands of startups succeed or fail, we’ve condensed what works and doesn’t work into nine tips. These tips are the cornerstones of SaaS sales success.
6. When and How to Start Selling Annual Contracts
Everyone loves the flexibility of a month-to-month or short-term contract. But, as a sales rep, closing a long-term deal sure has a way of putting a smile on your face.
So how do you get there? Well, the answer involves knowing who to target, how to get in front of them, and what to say ... and using the right phone scripts and email templates for selling annual contracts.
Self-Service SaaS or High-Touch Sales?
7. Should You Move From a Self-Service Model to Sales-Supported SaaS?
For many founders, self-serve SaaS is the dream. Qualified leads come through your sales funnel, sign up for a trial, and upgrade—without you having to lift a finger. If you want to ramp up growth even faster, however, hiring sales reps will help you move upmarket into the enterprise.
But how do you know when you should move from self-service to sales-supported SaaS? Wait too long and your competitors will snatch those lucrative enterprise deals away. Hire too fast and it could kill your startup’s momentum. To figure out when you should build a sales team, here’s a decision framework.
8. Optimize Self-Service SaaS Models ... With Sales Reps
The effectiveness of your sales team is only limited by your imagination. For instance, there’s a very successful SaaS company that boasts they don’t have salespeople. Founders hear about this company and assume that they don’t need a sales team either. Yet, the truth is they do have a sales team!
While they’re not using sales representatives to directly grow revenue, they do use their sales team to establish benchmarks against which they measure their self-service funnel. This is how you can use sales reps to optimize your self-service SaaS sales funnel yourself.
9. Consider Best Sales Methodologies When Selecting Your SaaS Sales Model
From self-serve models to transactional sales, and all the way up to enterprise sales, there are plenty of different ways to customize a sales strategy based on your product and your audience. And while there’s no one sales model that’s perfect for your business, there’s definitely a best option. Find it, customize it, and build a strategy that’s tailored to your product.
In this article, we provide no fewer than 8 successful sales methodologies for SaaS, and 5 top-performing sales models to base your custom strategy on.
Hiring and Paying SaaS Sales Reps
10. The Ultimate Sales Hiring Guide for B2B Startup Founders
Welcome to Sales Hiring 101: Everything you ever wanted to know about building a sales team for your SaaS business. From when to hire your first few reps to a sales manager or director of business development, it’s here. (There’s even a free sales hiring playbook featuring checklists and templates to help you hire faster and smarter.)
11. Why You Need to Hire Hustlers, Not Sales Veterans, for Your Startup
LinkedIn. Craigslist. Job boards. These are all places 90% of founders search when they’re trying to hire SaaS sales reps. But you’re looking in the wrong places for one single reason: good salespeople are too busy selling to be out of work.
Instead, you’re much more likely to hire bad salespeople, a mistake early-stage startups can’t afford to make. If you want to know how to recruit great sales representatives, follow these steps.
12. How to Design a Winning Sales Commission Structure
Need to design an effective commission plan for your first SaaS sales hires? Most founders overcomplicate compensation plans with base salaries that are either too high or too low, and commission structures that don’t work out. The best way to get started is to create a very simple first version. Stop searching Glassdoor for answers—here are two methods for designing a winning sales commission structure to help your sales hires get started selling SaaS immediately!
Finding the Right B2B SaaS Customers
13. Create Your Ideal Customer Profile for B2B SaaS Leads
An ideal customer profile is a description of an organization (company, government agency, non-profit organization, etc.) which gets significant value from using your product/service and also provides significant value to your company.
Defining your target audience should be a simple concept. Yet, many startups struggle to hit their sales goals because they don’t know who to sell to. This is how you create an ideal customer profile to attract qualified leads. To get even more customers, download your free copy of our soon-to-be-released guide on scaling B2B SaaS startups!
14. B2B Sales: Lead Generation Basics for Startups
What’s the best way to gain B2B SaaS leads? Here’s a breakdown of four ways your sales development team can identify decision-makers and source leads, ranging from the lowest quality to the highest quality.
15. Learn How to Close Enterprise Sales
You’re killing it in the SMB market and now you’re ready to move on to enterprise sales. Or maybe you want to jump over SMBs and go after the biggest deals first.
Regardless of your approach, with great reward comes great difficulty. These are the three things you absolutely need to know about selling SaaS to enterprise, including the SaaS sales cycle, managing expectations, and pricing models for enterprise.
16. B2G Sales: How to Sell SaaS to Governments
In the startup world, governments aren’t sexy. Rather than deal with a seemingly impenetrable bureaucracy, most startups steer clear of selling SaaS to governments. However, this uncharted territory also means more opportunities.
This is the story of how one startup found its niche by selling to governments, as well as the four steps you need to take if you want to start closing deals in the government space, too.
Handling Common Objections Like a SaaS Sales Pro
17. How to Handle the 2 Most Common Objections in SaaS Sales
SaaS sales ain’t easy. There’s big money, multiple stakeholders, and complex value propositions involved in each deal. However, the ability to navigate that added friction is also what makes SaaS sales reps so valuable and well-paid.
If you want to succeed, then you need a handle on objection management in SaaS. There are two common objections you need to be able to handle; learn how to overcome them both and close more deals.
18. How to Charge Money for Things That Don't Exist Yet
Getting interest from businesses and getting customers are not the same thing. Before you invest time and money into building a SaaS product, you need to know if potential customers have real buying intent.
But how do you do that when key features they need are missing or the product doesn’t exist yet? Simple. Sell first, build second. Here’s how to determine what to charge for unreleased products.
19. Engineers vs Salespeople: How to Respond When You Lack a Feature the Prospect Requests
When faced with a prospect who requests a feature their product lacks, most salespeople overpromise and underdeliver. Engineers, however, typically have a different approach that’s utterly brilliant at seeking out and solving the underlying issue. Once you see how simple these engineer sales lessons are, you’ll be using them immediately.
20. What To Do When Your Prospect Doesn't Want to Switch Software?
Your software is clearly superior to your competitors in terms of meeting your prospect’s needs, whether that means increasing their revenue or helping them hit an important goal. So why won’t your prospect switch?
Here’s the number one reason why they won’t switch software, and a method to persuade them to choose your software.
21. How to Sell an Upfront Fee
If your product’s pricing model has a deposit or setup fee, it can be difficult to sell it to prospects. For them, that fee simply means more money coming out of their pocket. However, if you know how to sell it as an added value or investment in their success, they’ll be more inclined to buy. Here’s how to sell an upfront fee.
Giving Demos and Trials That Sell
22. How to Give Product Demos That Sell
Most product demos are a snoozefest. Salespeople oversell features, don’t ask for the close, and wonder why prospects don’t buy. This is the blueprint that shows you how to give product demos that turn prospects into buyers.
23. Why Your SaaS Trials are Way Too Long
Your free trials should be short. Shorter than what they probably are right now. If you want to know the ideal trial length as well as the three reasons why short trials are great for your bottom line, keep reading.
24. Why You Need to Call Every Trial Signup User Within 5 Minutes
Call every trial signup user within 5 minutes. That’s all you have to do if you want to see a simple, yet huge, improvement in your reach rates. Yet, too many people underestimate the difference a five-minute phone call can make. Here’s research on how speed to call dramatically impacts your reach rate that’ll have you calling trial signups in five minutes or less.
25. 3 Ways to Nurse Lost Trial Leads to Activation
Free trial users invested time into signing up for and using your product. Some will become customers, but most won’t. However, you shouldn’t turn your back on the unconverted just because the trial’s over. These are three simple tips to follow up with unconverted users, get them back into your sales pipeline, and recover your lost trial leads.
Tracking Metrics to Improve SaaS Sales Process
26. 3 Data-Driven Sales Metrics to Improve Cold Outreach
Your sales force is working hard, constantly cold calling, emailing, and following up with leads. But are they getting anything out of their hard work? And how would you know, if you’re not tracking results?
Using a CRM to track and analyze all contact between sales reps and their leads will help shine a light into what’s working now, and what can be made better. Find out which data-driven sales metrics to track to get your cold calling and cold emailing campaigns up to speed.
27. Know Which Inside Sales Metrics Matter
We know that the effort put out directly correlates with the amount of effort put in. What most sales managers don’t know is how much effort their sales teams are putting out—and where there’s room for improvement. The eight inside sales metrics here span everything from sales activity to pipeline management, with details on sales results thrown in as the icing on the cake.
28. 5 Metrics To Track When You Want to Keep Growing
If you’ve managed to bring in client after client but have suddenly hit a plateau, we have good news for you: You can keep growing.
The key to doing so is to track key KPIs like lifetime value, customer acquisition cost, and churn rate; segment your data; upgrade your marketing efforts; and sell, sell, sell. Need a game plan? Read on and learn how to turn these five metrics into actionable steps that'll help you grow.
29. Use These 18 Essential KPI Metrics & Goals to Influence Your Strategy
Everything changes over time, and even the most well-planned sales strategy will need updating as your KPIs start showing areas of opportunity. Track KPI metrics and goals such as average closing time, monthly demo and onboarding calls, lead conversion rate, monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and so many more to help inform your expected funnel timelines, your sales team hiring needs, and the help guarantee the overall health of the company.
Making Your Customers Successful
30. Make Customers Buy and Use Your Product
Have you ever bought a gym membership but let it gather dust, despite the monthly fee? The same can happen in SaaS: customers buy your product but never, or hardly, use it. Here’s why you need to prioritize customer success and help customers learn to use your product, instead of focusing on gaining new customers.
31. Know the Difference Between Happy vs Successful Customers
Customer experience is important, but happy doesn’t always mean successful. A happy customer likes your product. A successful customer receives value from your product. Find out more about the difference between happy vs successful customers, and how to make your customers more successful in three steps.
32. Why Startups Need to Visit their Customers
At Close, it took us over a year to visit our first customer! While there are many reasons why startups put off customer visits, none of those excuses outweigh the benefits of visiting your customers in person. Here are seven benefits of visiting customers and tips on how to get the most value out of those visits.
33. Turn Outages Into Opportunities
Crises are a given in business. You can let them damage your relationship with your customers or turn them into win-wins. This is the step-by-step guide of how we turned a big outage into an opportunity for customer support, providing value for our customers and converting several monthly customers into annual customers.
34. Upselling 101
If you want more sales, look no further than your existing customers. Yet, too many founders and salespeople overlook upselling either because they don’t realize how much of an opportunity it is or out of fear. Discover how to overcome those limiting beliefs and five ways to upsell current customers.
Losing (or Firing) B2B Customers the Right Way
35. The No-BS Guide to Understanding SaaS Churn
When you say churn, do you mean customer churn? Net churn? Monthly subscription churn? In its simplest definition, churn measures how many customers leave your business. However, there are many different ways to calculate SaaS churn, each method telling a different story about your business.
36. Why You Need to Call Your Churning Customers (and How To Do It Right)
A customer has churned. You can stick your head in the sand, avoiding criticism at all costs. Or you can call them and learn from your failure. The second route is harder but it will make you and your startup better and stronger. This is how you call your churning customers and start a conversation to learn why they left.
37. When and How to Fire Your SaaS Customers
Sometimes, they gotta go. A customer can start off a great fit but if their needs and your ability or willingness to meet those needs diverge over time, you might have to fire them. There are two ways to go about firing your B2B customers, while still leaving your reputation (and morals) intact.
The Truth About SaaS Sales
It’s hard. You can’t sell a customer once and go on to the next deal. You have to keep selling your customers on the value of your product, month after month, year after year.
Some of them will churn. Others will have to be fired. That’s why success starts with picking the right customer, providing them with value, and understanding your metrics like the back of your hand.
However, if you get it right, there’s no better feeling. People will turn to your product to achieve their business goals, increase revenue, save time, or meet other critical needs. Focus on making your customers successful and success will follow.
Finally, here's a 37-minute presentation on SaaS sales for you:
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