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Elena Dobre

15 Experts Reveal Their Techniques For Increasing SaaS Product Sales

How to increase SaaS sales for my product?

A question that keeps founders, marketers and sales reps occupied day and night. In the attempt to come up with a list of actionable ideas to increase online sales for SaaS products, I asked 15 experts to help me. I’ll let you check out their advice and then will give you a list with the key takeaways. Ready?

Let’s start!

Ben SardellaBen Sardella – Co-founder & CRO at Datanyze

A way to drive new leads and conversions is to deliver value during the visitors’ initial experience. This can come in many forms, but one of the most common is a freemium approach. At Datanyze, we have several freemium tactics:

1. Free premium content – we invest a lot of time and effort delivering know-how from the best people in the space.

2. Market-share data – we have valuable data that we give to researchers.

3. Free browser-plugin – this puts the power of Datanyze into the hands of our typical users for free. It’s not a free trial, but yet a free tool that gives us a bottoms up approach to infiltrating a potential customer.


brittany-berger-imgBrittany Berger – Head of Content & PR at Mention

A great way to generate trials and leads is to really go in-depth showing people what’s possible with your software. We have a few different types of product-driven blog posts: announcements, tutorials for current customers, success stories and case studies. By far, the best content for generating new leads is the customer tutorial posts. Their primary audience is current customers, so there’s not a single sentence pushing or selling the product. Yet, it goes into such detail showing (not telling) readers its value, that it works for lead gen anyway.

Gia LaudiGeorgiana Laudi – VP of Marketing at Unbounce
 A massive commitment to Content Marketing has been at the heart of Unbounce’s strategy since day 1, before we even launched our product. We focus on education at every stage of our customer journey, from discovery to retention. In particular, big content like epic long blog content, ebooks, ecourses and live webinars have a huge impact at launch, but really shine as evergreen lead generators for us.


jakob-markovt-imgJakob Marovt – Co-founder & CMO at Pipetop
In the early days it’s crucial to carefully listen and learn from the prospects. Here are the top 3 reasons why it’s so important to be a great listener when doing early sales:
  1. You win sales by caring more about your customers than anyone else – your product is buggy in the early stages, and the only way you can win the early customers is showing that you really care.
  2. Win early advocates – if you make your very early customers super happy, they will become your advocates,
  3. Improve the quality of your product – when you have a structured approach to collecting user feedback and you learn to listen between the lines, it’ll naturally make your product better.

jeff-deutsch-imgJeff Deutsch – VP of Marketing at Ptengine

Our signup conversion rate has always been about 8-10% on our homepage because we only have one call to action (GET IT NOW–it’s free!) above the fold. Our biggest challenge has been getting users to implement our tracking code. In a SaaS company it’s pretty important to get your user to actually use your product! We increased the implementation rate from 15% to 45% by doing two things:

  1. Making a demo version of Ptengine so users can play with it before they implement the code and get data.
  2. Sending email instructions to users on how to implement. We only send the emails to users who don’t have any data in 48 hours after signup.

Larry KimLarry Kim – Founder of WordStream

I’m really excited about Facebook and Twitter Ads because:

  1. people spend a ridiculous amount of time on social media;
  2. it’s cheaper to advertise on social media than on search;
  3. I can promote my best content and generate trials for my product.

See the top ten social media hacks of all time in this presentation.


mike-fiorillo-imgMike Fiorillo – CRO & Growth Consultant

In self-service SaaS, switching costs are often quite low, so a good strategy is to target business owners actively seeking alternatives to their current software. You can capture this demand with comparison landing pages, which attract visitors with a very high purchase intent (meaning they’re likely to convert). To optimize these pages, make sure they summarize the key differences, appear credible, and include quotes from others who have switched. For inspiration, check out the comparison pages from FreshBooks targeting people searching for a Quickbooks alternative.

I promise that if you build comparison pages like these, you’ll not only significantly increase your quality score, but capture net new traffic and increase SaaS sales!


niikki-demere-imgNichole Elizabeth DeMere – CSO at Inturact 

In “How to Align SaaS Content Marketing and Product Management” (an e-book that I wrote), I discuss a sustainable system that SaaS businesses can use to acquire and retain their ideal customers. I point out how Inbound Marketing isn’t sufficient for SaaS businesses because they are subscription-based and need customers to pay their monthly subscription. Here comes the Retention stage which requires Customer Success Content. At Inturact, we refer to Inbound Marketing + Customer Success Content Marketing as the full SaaS Content Marketing Approach. This full approach is necessary for businesses not only to increase SaaS sales, but also to retain customers. 


peter-reinhardt-imgPeter Reinhardt – CEO and Co-founder at Segment

The biggest win for us has been consistently sharing what we’ve learned about analytics, data infrastructure, and business on our blog. It’s a great way to give back to the community, and it builds trust and awareness that eventually leads to new business.


razvan-gavrilas-imgRazvan Gavrilas – Founder of CognitiveSEO

It’s important to be perceived as a Pro in your Market. When you sell to Enterprises and Agencies, you need to “know” what you are talking about. Here I refer to the content that you create for your blog or other articles you post in various other places. Building a content marketing strategy that positions your SaaS as a Pro or an Influencer in a particular set of micro niches. Not everyone is good at everything. But one can be the best of something. Focus on your SaaS USP and market that.


roy-hinkis-imgRoy Hinkis – Head of SEO at SimilarWeb

Reaching out to influential people in our industry, even if they are not customers, has generated huge growth and brand awareness for SimilarWeb. An endorsement from an industry leader is worth its weight in gold. It’s not about sponsoring or paying promotional money, it’s about finding people with leading voices and getting them aligned to our world view. We have made it a priority to both identify and build these type of relationships. Not only do we gain the validation of leaders, but their input has been an excellent instrument in helping us better market our product. And of course building an SDR team really helped in the sales process.


siddharth-bharath-imgSiddharth Bharath – VP of Growth at Thinkific

One strategy we’re using right now is webinars. We have a weekly webinar that attracts people to our lists and always brings us new trials. When we partner with an influencer or company, it’s even better.


sujan-patel-imgSujan Patel – Founder of ContentMarketer.io 

One of my favorite tactics to increase qualified trials is to talk to your customers. By talking to them you’ll not only get feedback to improve your product and reduce churn, but also find the customers that love your product. Once you identify these customers, it’s time to get their help in recruiting/referring trials. It can be as simple as asking to share their experience on social media or emailing a few friends they think could benefit from your service.

When I first started Narrow.io, I did a low tech/easy test and reached out to customers who had the best results and ask them to introduce me 3-5 people who could benefit from our product. I personally offered help to setup their accounts. This snowballed into a few hundred emails and trials coming in. Some of the referred trials wanted my help getting setup, most did it on their own.


steli-efti-imgSteli Efti – CEO at Close.io

In the early days of our startup, I’ve been very active on Quora and shared lots of helpful advice for sales professionals and startup founders. It’s a great way to build an audience. Many of our early customers learned about our inside sales CRM because of the answers we posted on Quora.


tom-gorski-imgTom Gorski – Founder at SaaSGenius.com

In the SaaS industry, users come to making decisions by following specific patterns. Let me explain. It all starts with the Awareness stage, an initial point in which a customer comes in contact with your app. Although he or she wasn’t specifically looking for you, they may have come in contact with your product. The process then moves to Consideration stage in which a user begins to consider whether to actually purchase a specific solution and then, researches what would be the best alternative. This is the stage during which they will research your company, your app’s features but also seek out and read reviews and other social proof. Lastly, they purchase the selected solution. Therefore, it’s important that you get reviews from your users, because they will affect the purchase decision on your potential customers.


tyson-quick-imgTyson Quick – Founder & CEO at Instapage

Since all paid ads should direct people to landing pages, we use our own landing page software with our online advertising. By doing this, we convert nearly 40% of all paid traffic into signups.


valentin-radu-imgValentin Radu – Founder & CEO at Marketizator

1.Find out who is willing to pay for your solution

It’s essential to understand your target group. Start your research process by defining your buyer personas. Focus on finding out  most painful problems that you’re product is solving. My favorite tactic is using behaviour insights surveys for this purpose.

2. Figure out which is their biggest pain

Right after you diagnose, you can adjust your website accordingly for each buyer persona. At Marketizator, we managed to understand who is actually on our website looking for a solution using smart exit intent surveys

3. Treat the objections in real-time

As Moloko says in great song: the time is now! The users who want to purchase a solution are in the “action” state, actively looking for ways to solve their problem. That’s a good moment to prepare objection treatment landing pages or overlayers (pop-ups) that turn the abandoning visitors into qualified leads.


Conclusions

Analyzing the answers from our guest experts, I can conclude that the steps on the journey towards more sales for an SaaS business are:

  • Ask questions to be able to help your first customers get results using your product. Then, get reviews and recommendations from them to reach out to other potential customers.
  • Create insanely useful content based on what you learn – webinars, blog posts, etc. The aim is to attract traffic to your website.
  • Optimize your website for the  traffic gained through content marketing using conversion rate optimization tactics.
  • When more and more trials come in, it’s time to start an influencer marketing program. It will help you gain trust, increase brand awareness and generate leads too.
  • Finally, hire SDRs. It will definitely help increase SaaS sales…and confidence in your own forces.

Hope that you find this article helpful. Let me know in the comments what other strategies you have used to generate more sales for your SaaS product. I’d be happy to check them out!

 

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Comments

2 Comments

Gerry Konnov

Hi Elena!
Great article, thank you!
Good points all of them but I would add a little thought of our own.´what wasn’t mentioned yet – Focus.
Focus, to build a good product with good market fit and Drive to achieve it. Sounds probably like a textbook sentence but let me explain. We had a personal problem with “many campaigns but not want to make many bannerplaces in our web” so we started to look for geo targeting options on the market. There were many possibilities but non of them gave us all features what we wanted. Or they were restricted to one webadministration platform what also didn’t suit us. SO we build one ourselves, for ourselves and all started from that Focus on your goal. Now we are negotiating and developing further our Addivide SaaS platform with our customers. Feedback is essential to us. But it can be also distracting because every need is a bit different that other clients has and there is a large possibility to get distracted in it. Focus. But it is essential to get best fit for clients needs. So. Build product that market needs. You are the market at first, soon it will expand to testers and Free Trial users. IF they like your product, then They will use your product. If they do not like it, then You can make what ever party trick…they still do not like it. Also, there are always somebody who doesn’t like you or your product. That’s sad, concidering that negative feedback is spreading many times faster than positive feedback (if everything is ok, then only 30% gives you positive feedback, but if something is wrong 80% will tell it). So look at negative feedback, but do not get caught in it. If they are continuous then you will find a pattern for your products flaws. It is no personal. So, Focus.
Developing your product is endless journey. I have done many projects in my life and every time when I have felt like that I have nothing to give this project anymore, I have taken a fresh partner, sold it or simply moved on to next challenge. If you feel unfocused and you loose the drive – it is shown in your product. An this is felt by your customers. Use your drive in building your product. If you are believing in your product you will go an tell everybody about it and it will spread. Ad some Ads and already mentioned thoughts … it will fly. It it doesn’t then look into mirror: Was it products problem or reflection problem? Deal with it and make new focus to get the drive back on. For example, at this point we are at “phase 1 – get working MVP on the market” but in my head I have already “phase 3 – from simple service provider to essential ad tool” possibilities. So I’m really focused but this doesn’t mean that maybe already on “Phase 2” I will hire a CEO and be for example on product development section myself. If it is best for your company, then it must be done. Main is to be focused on the main goal to have a product what needs “Phase 3” developing in first place.
If you have build a good product, that users want, then you are already on right track. Tools to get there are all in your product. If it fits, it will fly, if it doesn’t then maybe you should do something else or let somebody else do it for you.
How it will get you more sales? “Google guys” used Yahoo (probably) and “Facebook guys” used MySpace (maybe) before they focused on their own product. It takes time and focus … and if you build good PMF product, sales will come. It it doesn’t then maybe it is too early for your product to be moneymaker or your product is not fit for it. Yes, you can trick your customer to make first purchase but point is to get continuous purchase. So, stay focused and build a product that market wants. It all starts from that. Everything what comes after that has already mentioned in this great experts article.

Elena Dobre

Hi Gerry,

Thanks for reading and commenting!
I totally agree with you that focus is essential if you want to take your SaaS startup to the next level. Indeed, staying focused will help you choose the best strategies for your business. Cheers!

Elena


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