I just had the pleasure of lunch with Jacco vanderKooij who published an awesome video clip and a Prezi on the future of sales in SaaS that gathered over 100,000 views in the first month. Pretty good for a B2B topic!
Here are some memorably quotes from our inspiring lunch:
1. “From Hunters to Peace Makers”
It is as if we have educated a generation of sales people to be hunters whereas what we need right now are peace makers that help build trust. Peace makers are focused on making a prospect or customer successful and are more akin to consultants than traditional sales managers.
2. “From Screaming to Whispering”
Using tools like Eloqua and Marketo we constantly bombard our prospects with our sales messages: it is like screaming. Now we need to move from screaming (to all customers) to whispering (to the right customers at the right time using social tools).
3. “Images and Emotions, not Arguments”
The message that resonates with the Instagram and Pinterest generation is images and emotions, not arguments. So more video and images, and less white papers and blogs.
4. “Relationships Matter”
Relationships really Matter. On Facebook relationships are fun, but on a business social business network like LinkedIn relationships really matter.
5. “Wow’m, Excite’m, Entertain’m”
When asked how his Prezi got so popular to quickly Jacco recalled that he often starts one of his talks on social selling by showing the cover of ESPN Magazine or Vogue. This is what we are competing with: to be heard you need very compelling content. Personally he is looking to Hollywood for inspiration on how to do this.
As promised, here is the second tip from Chris Yeh, VP Marketing of PBWorks about freemium sales models for b2b and SaaS.
Knowing of the advantages of free trial / freemium models, I agree that companies that are making the adjustments towards those sales models have an advantage in today’s online market where users can pick their products without a moderator (sales person) and pay for it only it it’s valuable for them
Similarly, Chris believes that the way to business success is establishing a trial for its product. This way customers feel they’re not taking a risk by buying a product but they test it first and understand how the product works before paying for it and this is tremendously important for building up a Successful contemporary business.
In his blog post: Bought vs. Sold (Why Jive is a dinosaur & Dropbox is the future), Chris compares 2 types of companies that have similar revenues achieved it in very different ways. The first company is Jive software and the other is Dropbox.
Jive is a 10 years old traditional enterprise company who spent millions of dollars in marketing and still not profitable and on the other hand there’s the 5 years old Dropbox, who has 40 employees already and a hundred millions in revenue.
To read the full transcription of the video, click here
I’m Chris Yeh. I’m the VP of Marketing for PBworks, which is a SaaS company that does collaboration software for various markets like advertising agencies, law firms and, of course, general business.
Well, it just so happens that I wrote an extensive blog post about this, comparing Jive Software with Dropbox, two companies which, interestingly enough, have almost the same revenues, but have achieved them in very different ways. Jive is a traditional enterprise company that was started almost 10 years ago and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing to get to where they are today and are still not profitable.
On the other hand, we have Dropbox which was started in 2007, has something like forty employees in a hundred million in revenues and so where I really see this going is that you know, certainly the tradition enterprise world still applies to large complex products but the ability to get a trial going, the ability to get people to say, okay I’m not taking a risk by buying this product, I know that it can deliver for me, is tremendously important for building up the business, so somebody like Dropbox or somebody like PBworks who offers the ability for people to really understand how the product works before they have to make a six figure commitment I think and that’s the way to go.
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.
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.