6 Social Selling Tips to Implement Today (from Sales 2.0 San Francisco)

LlinkedIn for Salesforce

The hot topic at Sales 2.0 Conference today in San Francisco remains (surprise, surprise) social selling (for B2B companies). Lots of speakers and lots of wisdom but also became abundantly clear to me that for most B2B organizations it is very early days in the adoption of social selling techniques. Therefore, for my wrap-up blog of Sales 2.0 I decided to summarize six things that any organization could do to get started with Social Selling.

I hope you find this blog helpful. Please tweet if you do: your own text or this clickt0tweet link.

1. Use your second degree connections

Mike Derezin (@mikedfresh), Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions at LinkedIn shared that second degree (LinkedIn) connections are 87% more likely to respond to any e-mail or phone call as compared to a cold call. If there is one place to start it would be to use your second degree connections as part of our (outbound) sales efforts. And not just your own second degree connections: also the second degree connections of the rest of your team. The new LinkedIn TeamLink product looks promising in this regard: it lets you tap into the second degree network of your entire company’s team.

2. Follow and engage strategic accounts on Twitter

Jill Rowley, Director of Strategic Accounts at Eloqua is the queen of using social media to engage with strategic accounts. You cannot do this for all your prospects and customers, but the best place to start is to create a short list of accounts that you are targeting for this quarter and deeply engage with them via social media. Follow them on Twitter and engage with them. Make the conversation personal. Often twitter, and sometimes even a text message, can be a great alternate way to get in touch with target accounts these days when people’s e-mail inboxes are overflowing. Be careful about engaging with prospects on Facebook. Mike Denizen shared research that shows that 80% of people want their social and professional networks separate.

3. Turn all employees into customer coaches

Your goal as a salesperson is to add value. Think of yourself as a customer coach: your job in sales is to make your customer successful and revenues will follow. Jill Rowley, super-star sales queen mentioned above, calls herself a “content concierge” on behalf of her prospects. “Think of prospects as as future advocates for your brand”, says Jill Rowley. “She clearly does a good job”, says Matt Heinz, a marketing consultant on stage at Sales 2.0: “Until today I didn’t know Jill is in sales. I thought she was an evangelist”. Eventually, not just your sales reps should be customer coaches, but every employee in the company is representing the brand and could be building trust with prospects and customers on social media.

4. Focus on lifetime customer value

Eryc Branham said it: “the only sales metric that matters in the end is customer lifetime value”. Customer lifetime value also featured high on Matt Heinz’s Top 10 Sales Metrics list, but I am with Eryc that all that matters in the end is customer lifetime value. Jim Cyb, VP of North American Sales from Zendesk shared: “the key to the success of Zendesk is a land and expand selling strategy”. It is not about the first sale, but about a lifetime of purchases. You can start small, establish any kind of paid relationship with your customer and grow from there. And, as Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group pointed out, when calculating Customer Value include “network value”: the revenues generated from referrals made by your customers.

5. Assign leads based on social proximity

I wrote about this before in Top 5 Trends in Sales 2.0 but this is still one of my favorite social selling black belt techniques: assigning leads based on “social proximity” (remember Tip 1 on leveraging second degree connections) makes the most sense. This time, Jim Cyb from Zendesk offered a good alternative if you are not quite ready for “social territories”. Zendesk is assigning leads based on a round robin system which is straightforward, eliminates any territory fights and aligns with today’s low-touch, virtual selling environment.

6. Make your product social

Research says that by 2020, 85% of the buying process will be completed before a salesperson is called.  In a day and age that direct contact with buyers is sparse, you should be listening to other channels.  Deploy social media tracking like Radian6 and Google Analytics to listen to your prospects. If your product is software, you should also be listening to what your product is telling you. Which trial users are active and what are they doing with your application? Did your paying customers stop using your application (and may cancel their subscription soon)? Of course this is the core of what Totango customer engagement is all about.  Even better – make your product a two-way social communication channel.  Communicate with your customers when and where you are top of mind: in your application with free tools like Appbox.js.

Drive Adoption with Billing

Billing Adoption

Promotional discounts, credits or value-add offers can be an important part of a product launch strategy. A properly timed discount, upsell or cross-sell or “bundling” can positively change the perceived product value and dramatically impact adoption of SaaS applications.

But, making on-the-fly changes according to the dynamic needs and circumstances of customers can inherently complicate your billing and pricing models. How does your billing system support the various iterations of a subscription discount, promotion or credit?

For example, how does the discount get applied? What is the duration of the discount? Does the discount apply to all subscription types (recurring, one time charges, activity)? What about conflicting offers? What types of customers are eligible for discounts?

Subscription discounting can get complex very quickly because most billing platforms use a very limited set of “price levers” (time, duration, quantity) capable of shifting the Perceived Product Value.

What you want is to have many price levers around where you dynamically configure and reconfigure services and pricing on the fly: subscriptions + sign-up/activity/event fees + bundles + add-ons + incentives + promotional products.

The ability to add and manage activities, consumption or usage-based price levers to a promotion gives a company a powerful tool for growing its customer base (recurring revenue) and maximizing lifetime value of the customer (reduce churn).

Effect of Changed Product Value

Positive changes in the product – or its perceived value proposition – have the potential to drive improvements in ARPU. Product differentiation can lead to short or long-term market advantages, depending upon how quickly the differentiation can be continued.

Effect of Changed Product Value

 

As stated earlier, with the simplest subscriptions, a business only has control over the price, the term of the offering, and the product mix of the relationship. Because choice is limited, tweaking price levers in those three categories provides limited results.

For example, if a $10 per month subscription is the MSRP, reducing the price to $7 to attract more users may simply cannibalize the existing customer base.

For this reason, it is important to add additional pricing levers around consumption or usage parameters to evolve the relationship with the customer. For example, the consumption or usage price lever can be implemented as a limit or as a set of charges that are generated by ongoing use. For example, as a person consumes, reward him with a discount or promotion every time he reaches a certain threshold, thus enticing him to continue to consume (along the lines of airline “point” systems.

When charging for different classifications of the good or service, customers paying the set amount for unlimited access will have a different value equation than those paying a lower price for limited access.

Over time, customers can migrate from an unlimited ($10 per month) to other price segments, depending on the customer experience or the changing perception about a subscription’s value – especially to those initially not interested.

Customers that do not see value in paying a set amount for unlimited access to a good or service may become interested if offered a chance to pay a nominal per piece price. For those subscribers, the value comes in the flexibility to consume the good or service at will. In a SaaS application, for those not willing to pay for a $10/month for unlimited access to articles may be willing to pay a $7/month plus a discounted price of $0.25 per activity such as time entry, project, download, computing cycle, contact, or any other measureable activity.

In this scenario, the customer who does not see value in paying $10 for unlimited access may become interested when he can pay $0.25 for only the activities that have value. At $0.25 per activity, the customer has a low barrier to trying out the new content, and the business succeeds in making money on content that previously would not be monetized. But the real value for the business is the opportunity to convert the customer to different subscriptions over time, as the subscriber’s situation and interests evolve.

Billing: A Strategic Asset & Enabler of Innovative, Sustainable Business Models

In a subscription business model, it is the relationship with a person that matters most, and no customer touch point is more important than billing, as it connects businesses with customers on an ongoing, personal basis.

Though not the sexiest topic, “billing” is the medium by which companies can truly drive and capitalize on customer usage patterns and preferences.

Billing is, therefore, central to improving adoption. Product management and sales strategies that focus on long-term relationships and maximizing customer lifetime value must address billing models.

Utilizing any one of those practices requires sophisticated billing that goes beyond a cookie-cutter approach for maximizing volume and per-unit profits. Now, billing has to boast real-time intelligence, the type of which is derived only from sophisticated rating and charging engines built to dig into data about actual usage (as opposed to forcing business people to pore over enormous reports after the fact, when opportunities have slipped away).

The next generation of billing has to enable business users to dynamically implement, enforce and change parameters on the fly. By implementing activity, usage or consumption-based billing, companies create more opportunities to innovate and drive new sources of revenue.

About the Author

Christopher Couch - COO and co-founder of TransverseChristopher Couch is COO and co-founder of Transverse, LLC. TRACT, from Transverse LCC, is the all-in-one activity, rating and subscription-billing platform that can bill for anything. SaaS, cloud, MSP, ISVs, telcos or wireless providers with TRACT’s pricing levers to rapidly build and evolve any business model: if it can be metered or measured, TRACT can bill for it. Learn more at www.tractbilling.com

What is the Best Sales Model for You?

HubSpot Tip

So how do you know which sales model is best for you – zero touch vs. low touch vs. high touch vs. field?

In his last tip from the Sales 2.0 Convention, Mark Roberge, VP Sales at Hubspot explains that it’s really depends on your buyer, what you’re selling and the full sales context and it does require some experimentation.

Preferably you should aspire to go on no touch or low touch as possible as the economical will always be best if you can pull that off.
But it is best to simply run experiments – set 100 leads to no touch and 100 leads to low touch and check the conversion rate, revenue, Customer Lifetime Value and in SaaS see what the CAC to LTV is  (Customer Acquisition Cost to Lifetime Value) and what the payback periods are and take the approach which has the best economics.

Furthermore, as mentioned in many of my previous posts, it is highly recommended to keep a thorough and updated Cohort Analysis for your metrics so that user behavior would come out accurately. This is the only way a successful SaaS business could reach the right consequences and choose its suitable sales model!

 

Review Mark’s first tip “Do you Distinguish Your Sales to Hunters and Farmers?

Review Mark’s second tip “Top-of-Funnel Strategy

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:

Mark Roberge, VP of Sales at Hubspot.

Yes so, zero touch versus low touch versus high touch versus fields, the quick answer is it depends, unfortunately, and I’ll walk through the dynamics. It really depends on your buyer and what you’re selling in the full sales context. And it’s gonna require some experimentation. I think in general you’d prefer to go as no touch or low touch as possible.

I think the economics will always be best if you can pull that off. But hey, if you’re wondering, “Here’s a lead that has 50 employees in this particular segment. Should this be a no touch or a low touch or a high touch?” You run experiments. You send a hundred leads like that to no touch, you send a hundred leads like that to low touch, and you see what the conversion rates are, you see what the revenue is, you see what the lifetime value is, in a SaaS role you see what the LTV to CAC and the payback periods are, and then whichever ones have the best economics, you take that approach.

Do you Distinguish Your Sales to Hunters and Farmers?

HubSpot Tip

At the Sales 2.0, I’ve also met Mark Roberge, VP sales at Hubspot, who gave me some sales tips.
On today’s video post, Mark explains the difference between Hunters and Farmers sales skill sets and recommends to protect the hunters from doing the farmers’ job as finding good hunters is hard and we don’t want to waste their time on doing things they’re not skill to do.

I agree with Mark that a business should know to distinguish between those roles and have each of them focus on their own specialties. As discussed in my post: “Does your SaaS Business have a VP Customer Success?“, Some B2B sales leaders have the farmers focused on customer success. Others now call themselves “Chief Revenue Officer”. Either way, we can see more and more of these roles in the SaaS industry lately and therefore can conclude this distinguish exists and becoming more and more acceptable.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

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Video Transcription:
Mark Roberge, VP sales at Hubspot.

You’ve got hunters and you’ve got farmers. The hunters are typically out there, generating new business, finding companies that don’t know who you are and turning them into new customers. You got farmers, who are really good at building those relationships, helping them see the hour line of your product and getting them to spend more money with you overtime.

Usually those skills are extremely different, and it’s really hard actually, I think, to find good hunters. The last thing I want them to do is spend more time on farming, more time making their number, not with my new lease and new companies. So, I wanna really protect that asset and also, I think, it’s such a different skill set that I want it separate.

Tip on How to Reduce Churn (Even in Low-Touch Models)

HootSuite Tip

Another tip taken during Sales 2.0 from Darren Suomi, VP Sales at HootSuite – this time regarding self service model and how to adjust it to reduce churn.

You know how it is that you get many leads and you just don’t know who to refer first? This situation is common in many SaaS companies.

With the right metrics and cohort analysis, it’s easy to decide who are the more engaged customers that are ready for sale and it’s usually more likely that if you’ll approach those customers, they’ll signup for your product.

Darren is also claiming that even in a self service model (low-touch model) like HootSuite, once they find out who are their active users in their service, they proactively reaching them and by that they reduce churn.

Tomorrow I will publish a tip by Mark Roberge, VP Sales at HubSpot who will explain the difference between the hunters and the farmers skill sets.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:

I’m talking to Darren Suomi, VP of Sales from HootSuite.

Bring me a model which where we play, it is a self-service model. So, we’re really trying to look at it from turning down the churn. I guess I’m looking at what people are trying to play instead of going from just a self-service. We’re actually just playing with the model in terms of a little bit of more of a high touch point. So, we are really taking a look at our customer who are quite active on social media. We are actually proactively reaching out of them and seeing where we might be able to help them versus just letting them fend for themselves.

When Not to Waste Your Time on a SaaS Sales Prospect

Target the right prospects

Anthony Iannarino’s sales blog on “All Opportunities Aren’t Created Equal” got me thinking about prioritizing your time, given limited sales and marketing resources.

This is especially important for lean startups and high velocity sales businesses, where there are a relatively high number of prospects as compared to the number of sales and marketing resources.

However, prioritizing your time in a self service sales model is changing as compared to the traditional enterprise model where every prospect requires sales touch. Consider these reasons
why a prospect may not be ‘Mr. Right’ or ‘Mrs. Right’ in the traditional sales model (as mentioned in Anthony’s blog):

#1 – When a Prospect Has No Money. The art world’s ‘starving artist’ is the ‘struggling start-up’ of business. Both may produce beauty, but without a stable income neither is worth bringing
home to your parents.

#2 – When a Prospect Has Too Much Money. They have big ideas and big budgets to make them happen—they just need your software, customized almost beyond recognition; causing too much work and distraction.

#3 – When a Prospect Is Dissimilar. Trust, communication, shared values, and a united vision for achieving goals are all factors of a great relationship.

Interestingly, if you are offering an online, self service trial for your service and have a low touch or zero touch sales model, you may not need to be too concerned about these factors
upfront. You can let customers self qualify through your sales funnel. It is ok to have any of these three customers sign up for a trial. Then actions speak louder than words. When a prospect
is active during the trial and engages with your product as-is, he is probably worth your time.
If, on the other hand your prospect never logs into the free trial or is aggressively calling your support team, it may be worthwhile finding yourself another ‘date’.

Top 5 Trends in Sales 2.0

Sales2.0

It was a jam packed day at Sales 2.0 in Santa Monica today. It was a great opportunity to meet with and learn from some of the brightest in the Sales 2.0 community.  I have summarized my key takeaways for Sales 2.0 leaders below:

#1 – Attract many, then focus on filtering

If your prospects do research online, will they find your company, or your competitor? Mark Roberge, VP Sales from HubSpot argued that you should keep the top of your sales funnel as broad as possible. Attract as many people as possible to your website through good content. HubSpot itself is attracting 50,000 leads a month, of which 40% get passed to the inside sales team and about 400 (or less than 1%) convert into new customers.  The leads that don’t convert still help to reinforce the HubSpot brand and trust. With so many leads, strong filtering and lead scoring algorithms are keys to sales success.

#2 – Give all sales people a social media address

Scott Holden, Senior Director at Salesforce.com argued that not just companies need to be discoverable, but also individual sales representatives. Social pages are often the first ones to come up in search results.  Darren Suomi, VP Sales from HootSuite called it “giving all sales reps a social media address”. He said it is no different from issuing a rep a cell phone and e-mail. IBM indeed has done just that, said Douglas Hannan, BU Executive at IBM: all 1,000 IBM sales reps have a web page with built in 2-way video and chat. They are also asked to get on Twitter and LinkedIn. IBM marketing maintains a social messaging calendar to make it easy for reps to find content to post.

#3 – Deliver value first, sell later

Jim Cathcart, the well-known author of “Relationship Selling”, defined what customer relationships are all about: in a relationship people know each other and have an exchange of value. Ask yourself: who is truly glad to know me? In a sales relationship, provide value first, sell later. Don’t talk about up selling customers, but rather up serving them. If you do a good job others will vouch for you and recommend your services. Scott Holden summarized this as moving from self-promotion to social referrals: “trust me, he is a great lover” and not “I am a great lover”.  I expressed a similar sentiment in my blog earlier this week on Genuine Customer Engagement.

#4 – Use online demos to drive sales

Salesforce.com recently did a survey of 1 million influencers in the buying process and found that 50%-70% of sales processes start long before a sales person ever gets involved. The most important deciding factor in the sales process was “online demos”, not sales person interaction.   HubSpot data points in the same direction: the most reliable indicator that a lead will convert into a customer is a request for a demo (46%) as compared to download a white paper for example (22%). As we discussed in many blogs including Trial Conversion is Top Priority in SaaS, I would add that interaction with a free trial version of your product has an even higher correlation with conversion to customer.

#5 – Consider a territory model based on social proximity

A somewhat radical idea was presented by Michael Lodato from Network Hardware Resale. He argued that in a commodity business (he sells network hardware) buyers are deciding based on personal relationships and customer service. Therefore he moved to an open territory model, where leads are assigned based on the personal relationship of a rep to the lead, rather than geography. On paper this social proximity model sounds great, but in reality it is still difficult to implement. Michael admitted to have a team of marketers manually assigning leads based on social parameters.

#6 – Move towards a lower touch model

Gerhard Gschwandtner pushed speakers to learn from B2C selling models:  Amazon has $30 billion in sales with ZERO sales reps. B2B companies need to learn from this and move to lower touch selling models, wherever possible. One of the speakers, Rini Das from PAKRA, has achieved just that. She is closing 95% of her business based on social media leads. She has hardly met any of her clients in person, but is still doing $30,000 to $150,000 in revenues per customer each year.  

Gerhard and gang; thank you so much for a great conference!

Tomorrow: Enterprise 2.0!

6 Tips for Cloud Sales using Channels

The Cloud Channel Summit Logo

I attended Jeff Kaplan’s Cloud Channel Summit today. It was a very interesting conference. Clearly cloud channel sales is in its infancy, but there were some companies here with successful channel strategies including Salesforce.com (1400 partners and counting), Scribe and others.  What follows are six tips that stuck with me:

Lesson 1: Think how you will compensate cloud channels
By: Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director THINKStrategies @thinkstrategies
Jeff opened the conference by highlighting the 4 Common Fears of the use of the Channel in Cloud: Cannibalization, Confusion, Disruption of the corporate environment and operations, and Channel conflict. After listening to most of the conference, I would have added to his list: How to compensate the channel to create a win-win relationship (as we discussed in our blog post on 3 Recommendations for Sales Compensation for SaaS from earlier today).

Lesson 2: Your job starts when you sign-up a new customer
By: Ron Huddleston, SVP ISV Alliances, Salesforce.com @Rhuddles1
Your job just begins when you sign-up a new customer: you need to focus on customer success (as a vendor and also working with your partners).  With cloud and subscription based businesses, you have to build deeper relationships that last much longer. This is true not only for partners, but also for your relationships with your customers. Also in this context: don’t overestimate ramp & return, don’t underestimate initial investment.

Lesson 3: In the cloud, you have to earn your business on a daily basis
By: Gil Zimmerman, Founder & CEO of CloudLock @giljzim
This one speaks for itself and is re-iterating Ron’s lesson in different words. Customers can vote with their wallets and cancel their subscription, often on a month-to-month basis.  I have written on this topic on this blog as well such as in my blog on Customer Engagement is Key for SaaS.

Lesson 4: The primary role of the cloud channel today is integration
By: Carolyn April, Director of Industry Analysis, CompTIA @CarolynAApril
In a CompTIA study Carolyn found that the primary role for channels in cloud today is integration, not sales.  This makes sense considering many attendees and speakers felt that we haven’t figured out commission plans for channel sales yet. That being said, I believe there will be major opportunities for the channel in on boarding new customers as well as sales, both initial and up selling, that will increase Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Experience.

Lesson 5: Use the coloring book approach to onboard cloud channels (and customers)
By: Brian Anderson, Global Business Development, Dell
The best way to onboard new partners (but this could also be new customers): take the coloring book approach – give them direction, success stories and examples. I really like this analogy and plan to maybe write about it in the context of on boarding new SaaS customers.

Lesson 6: Let customer success own the relationship with the customer
Michael Blaisdell, The Customer Success Management Initiative
Who owns the customer: sales or support (customer success)?  If customer success owns the customer it really changes the tone with the customer and creates much more trust with the vendor.  In reality, customer success probably doesn’t own all of the relationship, but it should at the very least be responsible for the ‘farmer type sales’: renewals and incremental sales. Totango is sponsoring some of Michael’s research and we recommend you check it out. It’s fascinating stuff and an important area.

So there you have it.

Thanks Jeff, for organizing a very insightful conference! We hope to be back next year. Perhaps we could even present our experiences on how cloud vendors are sharing customer trial and usage data with their partners in order to increase cloud sales?

3 Recommendations for Sales Compensation for SaaS

Designing sales compensation for subscription businesses

I am at the Cloud Channel Summit today.

A topic that seems to be coming up over and over again today is the need to come up with innovative sales compensation (commission) models that align with the subscription business model of cloud.

While this is mentioned as an issue, not too many solutions were discussed so far (we are only at lunch time) so I went hunting online for some good blog posts on the topic. Here are three posts to get the discussion started:

October 2011 – David Cummings on Inside Sales Rep Comp Model for Startups

Here are some ideas when thinking about the inside sales representative compensation model in a startup:

  • Base salaries in the range of $25k – $50k
  • Commissions in the range of $25k – $60k (e.g. $40k base salary and $60k in commission for an on-target earnings of $100k)
  • Commissions would be 10% – 20% of first-year’s revenues (e.g. $1,000/month SaaS product is $12,000/year with a 15% commission would be an $1,800 commission)
  • Commissions should be paid out after the customer’s payment has been received by the startup

July 2011 – Larry Steele (VP of SaaS at Savvis) Tips for Transitioning Your Business to SaaS

It’s not just about compensation: you could technically have a comp-neutral model for perpetual licensing and SaaS bookings. However, you need to examine how Sales is compensated on revenue or bookings. If you set up term limits (i.e., 12 to 36 months) in your subscription billing, then you will want to review your renewal process and make sure your sales team has the right incentives in place to keep the customers you have. Remember, it’s harder to find new customers than it is to keep the precious ones you have.

February 2011 – Joel York Cloud Channel SaaS Channel Compensation

In my post on SaaS Sales compensation, I made the claims that SaaS vendors should a) pay in proportion to the lifetime value of the deal and b) pay entirely up-front, because the SaaS sales rep should not be asked to bear any of the SaaS investment risk, or the rep is likely to just quit and find better work. The same basic ideas holds for the SaaS channel partner with the caveat that it is reasonable to expect the channel to absorb at least some of the risk, if not all of it. So, when it comes to SaaS channel compensation, SaaS vendors should a) pay in proportion to the lifetime value of the deal and b) pay disproportionately, but not entirely up-front because the SaaS channel partner should not be asked to bear a disproportionate amount of the SaaS investment risk, or the channel partner is likely to just quit and find better work.

Somebody also mentioned to me over the break that there may also be models we could learn from in other industries: for example, in commercial real-estate sales people are paid as a percentage of the monthly lease over the lifetime of that lease.

Do you know of any other good recommendations or posts? Please let me know in the comments!

4 Tips to Increase B2B SaaS Sales

B2B SaaS companies increasingly rely on inside sales teams to drive growth. The model is often referred to as “Low Touch Sales” and follows this formula:

  • Use Inbound marketing to drive Internet traffic to the site and create new leads
  • Use an inside sales team to support leads through their evaluation process and convert them to paying customers.

Inside sales representatives (ISR) and sales management teams juggle with large volumes of leads of various qualities. Leads follow a self-paced evaluation model and the role of the inside sales team is to increase the number of those that eventually “convert” to paying customers once their trial concludes.

Here are 4 tips for inside sales teams to improve their effectiveness, increase conversion rates and deal sizes. Creating happier customers and a happier sales organization!

 

1. Prioritize correctly by eliminating noise

Within many SaaS companies the lead volume is very high and there are only so many phone calls one can make. The trick is to focus on the most promising prospects, the potential customers who came in with a real intention to evaluate the service and buy.
In order to focus on the right opportunities, sales teams should have ‘intention indication’ which is usually reflected by the amount of time and investment prospects put in the evaluation process. In short, make sure your CRM contains data that reflects the actual (as opposed to potential) engagement level of a lead, and prioritize your work accordingly.

 

2. Increase Contact Rate

Every sales person knows that being in contact with a prospect increases the chances of a bigger, better deal. However, in many cases, due to volume and geography it takes a while before you can actually contact a prospect.
To increase your chances of making contact, follow up while the prospect is within context, meaning, when the prospect is actually using the web application. By implementing a ‘who’s currently online’ monitor and contacting leads that are actively evaluating, your contact rates are sure to go up.

 

3. Make smart and personal sales call

When making contact, be sure to use all the information you have on the prospect in order to be personal and address the actual needs of a potential client. Prospects who interact with your business over the web expect a conversation with a sales rep to be effective and rather not repeat their entire history which was already reflected in forms that they have filled out and actions they performed on your application.

Make sure to prepare for each sales call by reviewing the following on the lead:

  • Demographics information: This includes the size and industry of the organization, the evaluator’s role within the organization and so forth.
  • Usage information: What has a prospect done so far during their Trial? Have they been able to get up and running? Are they using the software regularly during trial? Did they invite necessary stakeholders to join the evaluation (where appropriate)?

Make sure your sales-tools provide visibility into these two issues so you can form an intelligent view on their status and be more useful to the lead as you interact.

 

4. Timely follow up

Potential customers need time to absorb the information available on your web site and properly evaluate to understand the true value of your service. In many cases, they will evaluate multiple alternatives simultaneously. Make sure to follow up on time. On the one hand you don’t want to annoy the prospect (that adds zero value), but on the other hand you wouldn’t want to drop the ball and let them fall in the hands of your competition.

Sales teams should map various milestones of the evaluation process, and have clear benchmarks and definitions for prospects who are on track and those who are not.
For example, for an online help-desk service, we would expect to have more than one agent by the 5th day of the evaluation. If this is the case, a prospect is on track and only needs encouragement, if this is not the case, a prospect might need a different type of engagement in order to open the road blocker.

Managing these milestones for multiple ongoing accounts is not easy, but it’s essential to fulfill your role as a facilitator of the evaluation.

Summary

Successful SaaS sales teams that follow a proven methodology and take advantage of automated high-quality information will increase their chances to sell more and faster. They will improve the predictability and consistency of results – this is critical for scaling the organization.

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