You’re running a successful SaaS organisation; you have the latest software solution to your target market’s biggest challenge. Your product and service is being well received and your marketing strategy is generating a good number of leads as a result. Your sales teams are working with intensity and purpose to close those opportunities in your sales pipeline.
But wait a minute!
Your profits are not where you forecasted they would be, but the pipeline is telling you that you have all the opportunities to hit your growth goals for the financial year. What could the problem be?
If your pipeline is full of potential revenue and nothing appears to be progressing through the sales cycle to the customer stage, you have a problem within your sales cycle. Long sales cycles eat into your profitability and take up your resources through activities that are inefficient.
Shortening your sales cycle will help to get revenue into the business quicker, invigorate your sales reps and absolutely delight your customers. No-one likes a long sales cycle and no one likes a long buyer's journey.
Here are three secrets to successful SaaS sales that I have learned over my years working with tech companies for the last 15 years.
1. Data is a goldmine you should be mining regularly
One of the biggest errors made by SaaS organisations is not looking at the data, the facts and the truth that is held within data. You have almost all the information at the tips of your fingers right now. It is right there in your existing sales funnel and CRM. Take an analytical approach to the information that you capture and how your CRM works.
We use HubSpot CRM to help us manage and track our entire marketing funnel and sales cycles. The HubSpot CRM already has some of the most useful information built into it as standard.
From within your CRM you will be able to see when a lead moved from your marketing funnel into your sales cycle. Here is the data that you can start learning from:
How long is each stage of your sales cycle?
Do different sales reps have different stages they appear to struggle with or excel at?
Where do you typically lose customers?
You want to identify the trends that are slowing you down and see how you can address them. Take your sales representatives for example. John is great at the demo stages of your sales cycle and moves quickly with a high rate of success to the next stage. However, Jenny is slow at the demo stage and has a mediocre success rate. You have a great, extremely low cost opportunity to shorten the sales cycles: get John to work with Jenny on her demo stage prospects. If he can help Jenny to increase her speed and success rate then you have increased your sales velocity.
Data is a goldmine, and requires you to keep looking for rich veins of usable, quantifiable and contextual information. It’s not all held in spreadsheets and systems—don’t forget to just have simple conversations with your team and clients on what worked for them in your sales cycle.
2. KISS your sales process
Don’t panic! I’m not suggesting that you turn up to your sales meetings dressed in black and covered in face paint (this would work on me, so you never know). I am, of course, referring to the well know acronymn, “Keep it Simple Stupid!”
Over complicating your sales process is an absolute time killer. I’m sure as sales people you have been presented with various sales cycles and processes across the years. These processes are naturally specific from company to company and service to service.
In my first secret you learned about data. Well, it’s time to put this into action with a bit of common sense. The more stages and hoops you have in place the harder it is for your sales teams to progress prospects to the desired outcome.
For SaaS organisations your Sales cycles could be as simple as three stages:
Qualified Lead - Free Trial - Onboarding/Closed
Take out the unnecessary levels of detail and keep your sales moving with a clear and sensible process to success.
3. Drink a Martini
Sadly I’m not talking about popping to your local cocktail bar. I am talking about your SaaS sales funnel. You’re all familiar with the standard funnel, how it offers a clear insight into the leads you generated and where they are within your sales process and their buyer's journey. A lot of people look at the funnel and expect it to have the classic V shape.
If your sales and marketing funnel looks like this, the chances are that you have leads further down your funnel than they should be. Leads that are never going to buy from you, or are so far removed from being ready to buy that they don’t deserve to be as far ahead as you currently have them. Whilst this may seem like a healthy funnel full of sales opportunities, the truth is that your sales team is focusing their energies in the wrong places.
Be harder about your qualification. Look at the trends in buyers behaviour—you remember the data from the first secret, right? For example, If you know a prospect is not going to be ready to buy within 12 months because of budget restraints, why are they an SQL? Perhaps they are better kept at MQL and left to automated lead nurturing and sales enablement tactics to keep the opportunity alive.
Whilst your sales reps are spending their time working with those sales leads that are going to impact your revenue streams this financial year, that extra focus and love from your sales teams will help buyers discover the value in your services and guide them to a buying decision at a faster pace. The impact on your funnel is a larger top end and skinnier bottom end. That bottom end is going to be really hot prospects, the ones you can forecast more accurately against, and the ones that your sales team have developed the best relationships with.
How do we know that these secrets will shorten your sales cycle and help increase your revenues?
Because we have put them into practice and seen our own revenues growing faster than ever. Our sales and marketing team meet on a regular basis to analyse the data, review our sales process and define our lead qualification. The end result has been year-on-year growth in the business.