The SaaS Guide to Closing a Sale

Build a great SaaS product, and it’ll sell itself.

Have you heard that one before? It’s one of the biggest myths out there. While it is possible to run a self-serve SaaS, it’s not possible to close sales on a consistent basis without guiding the prospective customer every step of the way. No matter how great your product, you still need a strategy to sell it.

In this post, we’ll discuss tips to help you sell your product.

Spy Out Their In-App Engagement

If you’re like the vast majority of SaaS, you offer a free trial of your product. Giving prospective customers a hands on evaluation is good for them, but it can be gold for you. You can use what you learn about the prospective customer during the trial to close the sale.

Before you attempt to close a sale, take a look at how the prospective customer actually uses your product. Ask the following questions:

  • How often do they log in?
  • What is their most common activity in your app?
  • How often do they need help? (Have they opened any help tickets? Have they accessed your knowledge base?)
  • What type of help were they looking for?

By analyzing their actions during the trial, you can determine what type of pitch to present when closing.

Shorten Your Trial Time

Close an SaaS Sale

Your trial should not go on forever, and by forever, I mean longer than 15 days. While there are exceptions to every rule, the vast majority of SaaS can benefit from a shorter trial period. Here’s why:

Increased sense of urgency

When a prospective customer feels like they have a very small window for checking out your product, they’re going to jump right to it. That’s what you want: Immediate engagement.

Shorter sales cycle

Even though it’s free for your prospective customer, a free trial isn’t free for you. You still need to pour money, time, and human resources into closing a sale. And the longer the sales cycle, the more resources you need to provide.

Increased perception of value

Here’s a universal truth: if something is free, it’s not very valuable. The longer your product is available for free, the less value it will maintain.

Here are two additional ways to close an SaaS sale that we didn’t include in this guide.

Know How to Demo Your Product

Demos can close your sale better than trials, but you have to be careful with how you use them. Here’s how to use a demo to sell your product:

Qualify before the demo – Demos take time and resources, so don’t offer demos to everyone. Ask questions to qualify the prospective customer first. Is this the solution that they’re looking for?

Keep it short – Demos shouldn’t last over 30 minutes. It shouldn’t take too long to go over the highlights of your product.

Remember to show value – Demos aren’t tutorials. Don’t use your demo to teach the prospective customer how to use your product. Show them why your product is the perfect solution to their problem.

Don’t Be So Quick to Offer Discounts

Discounts can hurt your business.

While they may help persuade a customer to choose you over your competition, discounts will eventually eat away at your profits and set you up for failure. The type of customer who demands discounts are usually the hardest to deal with. That’s because those who are obsessed with price are also the loudest complainers. But, if you slash your prices to close a sale with this type of customer, you’ll have to sacrifice quality.

Not only will a customer who is only worried about price leave you when a cheaper competitor comes along, but they’ll also expect a discount when it’s time to renew.

It’s a no-win scenario.

If you offer a flat 25% discount off of a recurring monthly subscription, you’ll feel that discount every month.

A better solution to offering a discount is to give away a free month in exchange for annual prepayment.

Follow Up

Follow up is so important because not all conversions happen at the end of a trial. According to this study by Madkuku, many SaaS customers convert months after a trial ends. Why? Perhaps they’re not sure that your product is the right fit and they’ve decided to try other products, too.

Whatever the reason for their delay, don’t stop trying to close the sale until or unless they tell you to stop. Use email to continue to nurture your relationship with your prospective customers.

That said, you shouldn’t badger prospective customers until the end of time. Eventually, you’ll need to purge your email list (a bloated, non-responsive email list affects deliverability). When that time comes, don’t just delete. Send out an email (a.k.a. “The breakup email”) where you ask your list subbies/ prospective customers if they’re still interested in hearing from you. Surprisingly, this type of email gets a good response rate. At the very least, it puts you back on their radar and reminds them that you’re out there.

Also don’t be afraid to reach out to old users who haven’t logged in to your app in months. They may have forgotten about you, but a follow up email may be all it takes to get them excited about your service again.

Close an SaaS Sale

Be Accessible

Can your prospective customer reach you if they have a question or concern?

While many SaaS appear to work on autopilot, it’s important for every company to be accessible whenever your customer wants to talk. Offer multiple ways for your customers to reach you and also encourage them, too. Offer email, onsite chat, phone support, and even social media as avenues to reach out.

Have a Plan for Common Objections

Spending money causes friction. When you ask someone to buy your product, there will be hesitations. Have a plan to reduce hesitation.

Here are the three top reasons why a prospective customer doesn’t want to buy (and what you can do about it):

  1. “It’s too much money.” – The prospective customer doesn’t see the value in your product. You’ve failed to show why your product is the right fit. To combat this objection, don’t focus on price, focus on savings, instead. Show the customer how your product will give them much more than what they give you. Use case studies, customer success stories, and individualized data based on their segment to support your position.
  2. “Not right now, maybe later.” – The prospective customer doesn’t see a pressing need to implement your solution. Here’s where conveying value and implementing an element of urgency will make a difference. But also keep in mind that, on average, half of your customers will convert in the six months after your initial introduction. Not right now often means it’s time to crank up the nurturing.
  3. “I need to get approval from a stakeholder/ decision maker.” – Sometimes, you’re selling to a person who isn’t the principal decision maker. While it’s important to win over every stakeholder, it’s crucial that you get in front of the person who makes financial decisions. If you get this objection, find out who you need to speak to as soon as possible and then make your sales plea directly to that person.

Final Thoughts

Because an SaaS deal often takes weeks (if not longer) to close, you need more than a pitch, you need a plan. Use these tips to set yourself (and your prospective customer) up for success.

Don’t forget to download these two additional ways to close an SaaS sale here.