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Some people define insanity as “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”
Sadly, this is how many SaaS brands operate. They continue to use the same tired strategies and expect a different outcome.
It's time to break out of this loop and rethink your sales strategy.
The million-dollar question is: How can you actually do it?
In today's guide, we'll explore a few ideas that can help you optimize your strategy, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid.
But first, let's make sure we're all on the same page…
A sales strategy is the series of steps you take to engage with your prospects, qualify them, and (eventually) convince them to make a purchase.
A well-defined sales strategy will have a clear path for how you go from first contact to purchase, with measurable activities you can use to track your success.
Remember that a strategy isn't about being perfect or getting it right up front. It's an evolving process to help you identify and address opportunities as they arise.
For instance, a common mistake is to assume that a specific tactic (e.g., webinars) will work for everyone.
But each prospect is unique.
What's “trendy” today may not be tomorrow.
You must be flexible and willing to test different tactics to see what works best for your particular audience.
Many founders confuse marketing and sales strategies.
While both practices are connected, they're not the same.
A marketing strategy helps attract initial prospects who might eventually become customers. In contrast, a sales strategy focuses on converting those prospects.
Marketing and sales work together to create a powerful system, but are separate in how they approach prospects.
Marketing is all about awareness and exposure. It's the front door.
Sales is about discovery and conversion. It's the back door.
The most common pitfall is an insufficient number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). If you aren't attracting enough prospects from marketing, it will be difficult to close enough sales despite having a healthy pipeline.
To solve this problem, make sure both sales and marketing are aligned.
This will make sure your marketing activities are generating the right level of MQLs, and that you're converting those leads at a healthy rate.
Now that you understand the basics, let's get tactical.
Your sales strategy is an adaptation of your company and product to a customer. As such, it's a living, breathing thing.
You can't just set it and forget it. Instead, you need to constantly tweak your strategy as you learn from mistakes and make advancements.
To optimize your current sales strategy, follow these ideas:
Objections provide you with valuable insights to understand buyer personas. They also help define the value your product provides, allowing you to guide prospects through the sales cycle more effectively.
Remember that buyers are predisposed to saying “no”, so you need to systematically overcome objections they may have.
But objections also tell you what's important to your customers.
Every point where they hesitate is an opportunity to provide more value. Look for ways to address their concerns, and connect the dots for them.
Instead of handling objections when they arise, take an “objection prevention” approach and develop content to preemptively answer them.
For example, one of the most common objections is determining if your product is a fit.
To prevent this, develop case studies that showcase how other customers have used your product to achieve success. By answering these objections before they come up, you'll avoid losing opportunities.
Some helpful tips for using objections to your advantage include:
Over time, you should be able to determine which objections come up most often. Once you have them in writing, categorize each one by type (e.g., feature/benefit, pricing, etc.).
For each type of objection, create corresponding content that shows sales reps how to overcome them.
Start with the most common types of objections, and work your way down the list until you've covered all of them. This will help you proactively provide value and avoid losing sales.
Plug your leaks
While objections help you understand the concerns of your buyer personas, they don't always signal a closing opportunity.
For example, someone might be reluctant to provide their personal information for a free trial or consultation because they're not sure if they want to make a purchase yet.
They're not necessarily an objection, just a “leak”. While it may seem harmless, these leaks add up over time.
Identifying these leaks gives you insight into how your sales strategy works, highlighting where it may have weaknesses.
Plugging leaks is a great way to improve the effectiveness of your sales strategy. But it's also time-consuming.
Use an attribution model to prioritize your efforts. For each time a lead leaks, assign a certain value based on the type of content they were exposed to, and their stage in the sales cycle.
For example, if they were exposed to a webinar and signed up for the free trial before leaving, that would be more valuable than leaving after watching a demo.
This will allow you to prioritize your different content types and drive more revenue over time.
Once you have a good handle on the most common objections, start by identifying what makes your product or service unique.
This may be a feature, benefit, or aspect of the business model. It could also be your company's overall value proposition.
Whatever it is, your product should be differentiated somehow. Try to boil this down to one concise sentence that your customers can grasp.
Having a clear understanding of what makes your product unique will help drive more conversions.
Here are a few helpful tips:
Differentiate across the sales funnel
You might be tempted to focus on what makes your product unique at the top of the funnel, but doing so can cause problems further down the line.
For example, if you're pitching a unique feature to leads early in their path to purchase, it could end up being a lot less appealing to customers who are closer to making a purchase decision.
Instead of pitching differentiators early in the process, save them for the end. That way, you're more likely to address any remaining concerns that your prospects may have about making a purchase.
This approach can also help with generating more opportunities and closing deals faster.
Differentiate between buyer personas
Another helpful strategy is to develop differentiators for each of your buyer personas. While it might be difficult to find something that works well across the board, differentiating your product for each person will give you a unique edge.
For example, mid-level managers might feel more attracted to features that will help them track the performance of their sales teams.
Developer-focused buyer personas may be swayed by an API that allows them to integrate the software into their existing workflow.
The idea is to show how uniquely your product addresses the needs of each persona and why they should purchase your product over the competition.
Use buyer intent to find your differentiators
Once you've identified what makes your product unique, you need to translate this information into something actionable.
Selling your product should be a two-way conversation, and knowing what makes your product great is just one part of the equation.
The other part is knowing what your prospects want. Once you recognize that, you can use that information to drive your sales strategy.
To do this, you need to pay attention to the language that your prospects use. Identify the different phrases that they use when describing their pain points and what they're trying to accomplish.
This will tell you exactly what your prospects want. Once you have that information, you can easily find out what makes your product unique.
The best way to improve your sales strategy is to set a goal and work towards it.
Having a defined goal will also help you prioritize your sales efforts and improve your conversion rates.
The best way to do this is by developing key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurements that indicate whether your company is meeting its targets.
For most SaaS companies, the primary KPI is likely to be the number of deals closed or revenue generated.
This information will help you determine whether your sales strategy is successful.
Monitoring and reporting on your KPIs will also help you make decisions on how to improve.
For example, you might find that you're closing more opportunities when you focus on certain buyer personas. You might also find that certain sales reps are more effective than others. This type of information can have a big impact on your sales strategy going forward.
A good CRM platform can help you set up and track your KPIs and stay on top of your sales process.
For instance, multi-touch attribution features will give you a better idea of how much each rep contributes to deals.
Certain CRM systems will give you more insight into the customer journey. You can use this information to find out what you're doing well and where opportunities for improvement lie.
Once you have your KPIs in place, you need to make sure that all of the necessary information is being recorded.
This means looking at how many opportunities were generated, how many deals you closed, and the revenue generated for each sales rep.
You should also record sales calls and the information that was exchanged during these calls.
Without keeping track of this data, it's impossible to see what works and what doesn't.
By looking at the numbers, you can also see which sales reps are performing best.
You should try to meet with all your reps at least once a month. This will allow them to ask questions and get feedback on their performance.
You can identify areas of improvement and share your own experience.
This will help to develop your reps' skills, which can have a positive impact on their overall performance.
By monitoring and reporting the KPIs that are most important to your business, you can quickly see whether your team is meeting its targets.
Once you have a better idea of what your prospects want, it's time to put that information into action.
Your reps will need to know exactly what they should do when speaking to different types of prospects. This means providing ongoing training and feedback and tailoring your sales process accordingly.
This training should focus on making sure reps are speaking to the right people and asking the questions that drive better conversations.
It's also important to ensure that your reps understand how to determine whether a deal is worth pursuing further.
Without properly structured training, it's easy for reps to spend too much time on deals that won't close, which can increase deal-cycle times and lower conversion rates.
Building a single source of truth for your sales team can improve collaboration and ensure that all information is accurate.
Information should be updated in real-time to avoid misunderstandings and any gaps in knowledge.
Having a single source of truth will also allow you to share better prospect information with your team.
This means that important data, like linked accounts, is available to all reps, regardless of which CRM platform they use.
Having this kind of information easily accessible can save your team time and make them more efficient.
For example, let's say that Lisa is a sales rep who is working on a deal with accounts A, B, and C. She can quickly pull up key information on these accounts, like contact names and phone numbers, in her CRM.
Lisa's colleague Amanda is also working on a deal with accounts A and C. The information that Lisa has shared with her team will be available to Amanda, allowing her to quickly jump into the conversation.
This real-time information sharing will help to build collaboration and improve overall efficiency.
Your reps must have a strong feedback loop. This will allow them to receive valuable information from you and other teammates, as well as provide immediate feedback where necessary.
You aim to provide guidance that leads to high-quality prospect interactions.
One way to do this is by providing regular call reviews.
These should be recorded and then used as a basis for ongoing training and development.
Your reps should also be able to leave notes about prospects that will inform future interactions.
This means that if a prospect moves into the funnel, your rep will have access to previous information about them.
Without an effective feedback loop, it's easy to keep information locked away in your CRM.
This can make training less effective and leave your sales reps feeling disjointed.
No doubt building a more effective SaaS sales strategy takes time and effort. But by following these steps, you'll be able to implement a strategy that boosts your overall performance and turns prospects into customers.
Use this guide as a checklist for what you need to do, so you can improve your sales strategy this year.
And, if you want even further guidance on taking your company to the next level, check out Executive Navigator.
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