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Selling a SaaS solution when you are a start-up

Selling a SaaS solution when you are a start-up

What is the best strategy when you own a start-up that is trying to sell a SaaS solution? What are the best ways to monetize such a platform? Many times, in such a business model, it is difficult to separate sales form marketing, as these two happen to overlap.  The most important thing you must keep in mind is that this type of business operates online, so you should focus on the online strategies.

A possible action plan for such a business can look like this:

1. Expect that the majority of your SaaS solution leads will come through the online channels.  To achieve this:

  • Your website needs to be engaging

-You should present on the website the various persona (fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic that might use a site or product) as part of the lead qualification process.

-The call-to-action needs to be very clear

  • Offer multiple ways for visitors/prospects to reach you from your website. Telephone or chats deliver an automated process to contact the prospect in a timely manner.

2. Generate online demand. You need to generate incoming, high quality links from sources that are relevant to your SaaS solution and the persona addressed. This includes online paid advertising, as SEO/SEM is cheap and effective on the long term.

3. Establish thought leadership with blogs, webinars. Since you are a start-up, you do not have the case studies for webinars just yet, so you need to use blog marketing to educate the audience. (eg. Send a demo to the expert industry bloggers and get them to write independent opinions about your SaaS solution, articles on your community blog etc).

  • Find leaders – use them to get the word out for your SaaS solution. For example, try pushing it for adoption with a few leaders in consulting industry and than use this as a case study for webinars.

4. Research on customers: online customer communities, their industry news, their key competitive points etc. What customer media you need to address?

5. Use special offers and calls to action: Demos, free trial, viral offerings are great ways to attract prospects.  Another suggestion is to add videos, demos, Q&A to guide the customers in their evaluation (see Sales force examples of this). You can also add a Q&A forum-like section to your community.

6. Use online market places (ex Sales Force App exchange, Microsoft etc) , integrators, partnerships and referrals.

To close sales or to learn more about the buying behavior of your persona and gather important information from follow-up, you could also go for other sales strategies like:

7. Phone and e-mail follow-up for to the trial subscriptions

8. Phone qualification for prospects interested in a trial account – to understand how they want to use your SaaS solution, what their expectations are etc.

9. Establish a comprehensive database – eg, put all leads and contacts database in your CRM.

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