In the ever-evolving world of software as a service (SaaS), the sales landscape is markedly different from that of traditional tangible products. From automotive to telecommunications, traditional sales often involve straightforward, one-time transactions. In contrast, SaaS sales demand a nuanced approach that navigates through unique challenges and opportunities inherent to digital products and subscription-based models.

Recognizing the complexity and the distinct nature of SaaS sales, we’ve tapped into the expertise of 15 leading professionals in the industry. These experts bring forward a wealth of strategies and insights, drawn from their experiences, to help SaaS businesses not only enhance their sales processes but also build lasting customer relationships and maximize recurring revenue.

In the upcoming sections, you’ll discover actionable advice tailored to boost your SaaS sales, ensuring your strategies align with the best practices that have led these experts to success. Whether you’re a startup founder, a marketer, or a sales executive, these insights will equip you with the tools you need to elevate your SaaS sales game.

Let’s dive into the expert advice and explore the key takeaways that can transform your approach to selling SaaS products.

Key Takeaways

  • Freemium Models: Offer valuable free tools or content to attract and convert users.
  • Content Marketing: Use detailed tutorials and case studies to demonstrate value and generate leads.
  • Customer Feedback: Actively listen to early feedback to improve products and encourage advocacy.
  • Simplified Onboarding: Ease the implementation process to increase user activation.
  • Social Media Ads: Promote content effectively on social media to attract trials.
  • Comparison Pages: Capture high-intent traffic with detailed comparison landing pages.
  • Retention Focus: Merge content marketing with customer success to retain subscribers.
  • Community Engagement: Build trust and attract new business through active community participation.
  • Influencer Partnerships: Leverage influencers to expand reach and enhance credibility.
  • Conversion Optimization: Improve landing page conversions to boost sign-up rates.

How to increase SaaS sales for my product?

A question that keeps founders, marketers, and sales reps occupied day and night. In an 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 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:

  • Free premium content – we invest a lot of time and effort in delivering know-how from the best people in the space.
  •  Market-share data – we have valuable data that we give to researchers.
  • 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 - Head of Content & PR at Mention

A great way to generate trials and leads is to 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.

Georgiana 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, courses, and live webinars have a huge impact at launch but shine as evergreen lead generators for us.

Jakob 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:

  • 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 by showing that you care.
  • Win early advocates – if you make your very early customers super happy, they will become your advocates,
  • 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 - VP of Marketing at Ptengine

Our sign-up 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 users to 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 48 hours after signup.

Larry Kim - Founder of WordStream

I’m 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 - 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!

Nichole 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 with our worldview. We have made it a priority to both identify and build these types 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 helped in the sales process.

Siddharth 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 - 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 asked them to introduce me to 3-5 people who could benefit from our product. I offered help to set up their accounts. 

This snowballed into a few hundred emails and trials coming in. Some of the referred trials wanted my help getting set up, but most did it on their own.

Steli 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 - Founder at SaaSGenius.com

In the SaaS industry, users come to make 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 the 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, and your app’s features but also seek out and read reviews and other social proof. Lastly, they purchase the selected solution. Therefore, you must get reviews from your users, because they will affect the purchase decision of your potential customers.

Tyson Quick - Founder & CEO at Instapage

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

Valentin Radu - Founder & CEO at Omniconvert

  • 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 the most painful problems that you’re product is solving. My favorite tactic is using behavior insights surveys for this purpose.
  • Figure out which is their biggest pain: Right after you diagnose, you can adjust your website accordingly for each buyer persona. At Omniconvert, we managed to understand who is actually on our website looking for a solution using smart exit intent surveys
  • Treat the objections in real-time: As Moloko says in a 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.

Defining SaaS Sales

An illustration of two people working on a mobile app interface design, with one person standing and interacting with a large smartphone screen displaying wireframes, and the other sitting with a laptop, surrounded by icons symbolizing security, coding, search, and time management, all set against a purple background.

Simply put, SaaS sales involve the process of selling cloud-based software services, driven by the leads generated through targeted SaaS marketing strategies. Unlike physical products, SaaS sales require a unique set of strategies to effectively convert leads into customers.

The Distinct Challenges of SaaS Sales

An illustration of a businesswoman looking towards a bar chart where the bars are steps leading to a trophy, symbolizing goal achievement and the challenge of climbing to success.

Understanding SaaS sales is just the beginning. The real challenge lies in converting leads, which are nurtured through dedicated SaaS marketing efforts, into paying customers. Even companies with strong marketing campaigns need a skilled sales team to close deals and maximize revenue.

The Dynamics of SaaS Marketing and Sales

A graphic comparing the old and new marketing and sales funnels. The traditional funnel is labeled "Then..." with marketing at the top and sales at the bottom. The updated funnel is labeled "...Now," with marketing and sales running parallel along the entire funnel, which includes stages for Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.
  • SaaS Marketing focuses on identifying the target market, creating strategic inbound or outbound marketing plans, and generating potential leads.
  • SaaS Sales takes these leads, works to convert them into customers, and continues to engage them, aiming to upsell and maximize revenue while ensuring customer satisfaction.

The Key to SaaS Sales Success

A conceptual image showing a traditional B2B SaaS sales and marketing funnel. Icons represent the consumer journey stages of Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action, leading from a magnet attracting customers to a target symbolizing successful sales, alongside icons for teamwork, gears, and financial growth.

The essence of successful SaaS sales is in demonstrating the undeniable value that the service offers to potential customers. For instance, Airbnb transformed from a startup funding itself by selling themed cereal to becoming a global powerhouse valued at over $30 billion, a testament to their effective sales strategies rather than just their quirky beginnings.

Why is increasing SaaS sales vital for a business that relies on recurring revenue?

An illustration showing two people on an infinity symbol loop; one is running with a briefcase on the upward curve, while the other has fallen and is sliding down, representing the ongoing cycle of success and setback in business.

Let’s imagine your runway is running out, you need to make the next big hire, or a VC has given you a poor deal. I often remind folks of a wonderful proverb that goes, “Revenue makes most of your problems go away.”

But not just any revenue—the era of “scale at any cost” has ended. Venture capitalists (VCs) are currently examining SaaS firms’ KPIs more closely and searching for SaaS unit economics and robust revenue growth. They want to know that your SaaS business prioritizes growth and that you can meet the demands of your target clientele while maintaining a stable revenue growth rate.

The tightening of traditional marketing channels is exerting pressure on this situation. In many different areas, competition is increasing for SEO and SEM channels, CPC rates are rising, and acquiring new clients is becoming more costly to meet the SaaS KPIs that venture capitalists require.

Traditional sales development representatives, or SDRs, who go out into the field and gather meetings or leads to pass along to account executives, are also becoming less common. Even Revenue 2.0 strategies, like assigning SaaS sales representatives to make outbound calls and emails to schedule meetings, are starting to lose a great deal of their previous effectiveness.

This implies that to increase income and sales velocity, every SaaS company needs to become much more intelligent in its approach. They must use a systematic SaaS sales methodology and adopt a more methodical approach to SaaS growth.

SaaS Sales vs. Regular Product Sales

SaaS sales are distinctly different from regular product sales, such as those in a traditional retail environment. Understanding these differences is crucial for leveraging the unique benefits of selling a service over a physical product.

Comparison of SaaS Sales and Regular Product Sales

  • Trial Periods: Regular product sales often don’t offer trial periods, whereas SaaS sales commonly use trials to engage customers and drive conversions.
  • Customer Relationship: Traditional sales typically involve one-time transactions. In contrast, SaaS sales focus on cultivating long-term relationships with customers, encouraging ongoing engagement and loyalty.
  • Revenue Opportunities: Regular product sales generally have limited upselling potential, while SaaS sales offer significant opportunities for upselling, enhancing customer value, and boosting long-term revenue.

These fundamental differences highlight why follow-up and customer engagement are essential in SaaS sales, particularly during and after trial periods when prospects are considering whether to commit to a full purchase.

How Does the SaaS Sales Funnel Work?

A stepped funnel graphic with sections labeled from top to bottom: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, Buy, Relationship, and Advocacy, representing the stages of a customer's journey in marketing and sales.

The SaaS sales funnel builds upon the traditional sales funnel but adapts it to focus heavily on customer retention and recurring revenue. Here’s a breakdown of the four key stages in a SaaS sales funnel:

  • Awareness: Prospects learn about the SaaS product through various marketing efforts. The aim here is to generate leads by creating brand visibility.
  • Key Activities: Content creation, social media marketing, paid advertising, SEO, and capturing leads through landing pages.
  • Engagement: At this stage, potential clients interact more deeply with the brand, possibly by subscribing to newsletters, downloading ebooks, or accessing other gated content.
  • Key Activities: Email marketing, nurturing leads, promoting free trials, and hosting webinars.
  • Exploration: Prospects engage in detailed discussions about their needs and how the SaaS product can address them. The focus is on establishing the product’s value tailored to their specific situations.
  • Key Activities: Providing case studies, testimonials, and detailed product demos.
  • Conversion: This final stage is where leads are converted into paying customers, emphasizing the importance of effective demos and smooth signup processes.
  • Key Activities: Streamlining the subscription process, managing the purchase transactions, and implementing initial customer onboarding and support.

SaaS companies need to tailor these stages to their specific market and continuously refine their strategies based on performance analysis to maximize conversion and retention rates.

Conclusion

Analyzing the answers from our guest experts, I can conclude that the steps on the journey towards more sales for a 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 help increase SaaS sales…and confidence in your 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average conversion rate for SaaS free trials?

The average conversion rate from free trials to paying customers in the SaaS industry typically ranges from 10% to 30%. This rate can vary widely based on several factors including the niche, product complexity, pricing strategy, customer onboarding experience, and the effectiveness of ongoing engagement efforts during the trial. 

Optimizing each step of the user experience, from initial sign-up to activation and follow-up communications, is crucial to improving these conversion rates.

How long should a free trial period be to optimize sales conversions?

The length of a free trial can significantly affect conversion rates. While 14 to 30 days is common, the best length depends on how long it takes for users to realize the value of your software. Shorter trials (7-14 days) can create a sense of urgency, while longer trials (30 days) may be necessary for more complex solutions. 

Analyzing customer usage data during the trial can help determine the optimal length that encourages conversions while allowing users enough time to evaluate the product fully.

Can automation enhance SaaS sales processes, and if so, how?

What are some effective ways to reduce churn in SaaS subscriptions?

Reducing churn is critical for the long-term success of any SaaS business. Effective strategies include:

  • Improving Customer Onboarding: Ensuring users fully understand how to use the product through effective training and support can significantly enhance their likelihood of continued use.
  • Regularly Updating Features: Continuously improving the product based on user feedback shows commitment to customer needs and can reduce dissatisfaction.
  • Engaging Customers: Implementing regular check-ins, personalized emails, and targeted offers based on user behavior can increase engagement and satisfaction, decreasing the likelihood of churn.

Automation is a powerful tool for enhancing SaaS sales processes. It can streamline many aspects of the sales cycle, including lead nurturing, lead scoring, and follow-ups. By automating repetitive tasks, sales teams can focus more on high-value activities like engaging directly with potential customers and closing deals. 

Tools like CRM software can help track customer interactions automatically, provide timely data, and trigger action items, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

How important is content personalization in increasing SaaS sales, and what are some best practices?

Content personalization is extremely important in increasing SaaS sales as it significantly enhances the relevance and engagement of communications. Best practices for content personalization include:

  • Leveraging User Data: Use analytics to understand user behavior and preferences to tailor content accordingly.
  • Segmenting Audiences: Create detailed customer personas and segment email lists to ensure that marketing messages are highly targeted.
  • Dynamic Content: Implement technology that displays content dynamically based on the user’s past interactions with your website, increasing the personal relevance of the content.