The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model–in which companies buy subscriptions to software hosted in the cloud–has grown rapidly in recent years. It was the largest market segment for public cloud services in 2021 and reached a valuation of $117.7 million. Nearly 99% of businesses use at least one SaaS service. Software companies are increasing their investments in SaaS because it allows for rapid deployment, greater flexibility, and lower cost.
There’s no better time than now to enter SaaS sales. SaaS sales representatives are needed by almost all major software companies to expand their customer base. The career opportunities for these software sales reps are endless, the commissions and salaries are competitive, and the job’s exciting and constantly evolving nature keeps it interesting.
What are SaaS Sales?
SaaS sales refer to the practice of selling SaaS subscriptions directly to customers. It is important to understand the basics of traditional software sales before you can understand how SaaS works. Software licenses were purchased by companies before SaaS. This allowed them to run the software on a set number of computers. The software was typically hosted on company servers. Only computers with access to these servers were allowed to use them.
Software-as-a-Service has completely changed the game. Customers no longer need to buy one-off licenses or have the software hosted on their local servers. Instead, they can purchase software subscriptions that allow them to access software hosted in the clouds. Both the software creator as well as the customer have many benefits. Customers don’t have to create server infrastructure in order to host the software. Instead, customers pay only for the time they use it. Software developers can be responsive and agile with the SaaS model, which allows them to publish incremental updates in real-time.
What Does “Software-as-a-Service” Mean?
SaaS stands for software-as-a-service. Customers don’t need to manage a physical product or host software on servers. They are also not restricted by how many licenses they have purchased. Customers also get automatic software updates and access from multiple devices. There are no installation requirements.
Customers pay a monthly or even an annual subscription instead of a one-time payment for a static product.
What Are Some Examples of SaaS Products?
SaaS products can be used for both B2B/enterprise technology and consumer-facing products.
These are some of the most popular enterprise SaaS products:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Amazon Web Services
Popular SaaS products for consumers include:
- Google G Suite
- Amazon Prime Video
What is the Difference Between Selling SaaS and Another Product or Service?
Many skills can be transferred (e.g. The SaaS model requires additional skills such as the ability to develop a sales strategy, identify qualified prospects, manage customer relationships, conduct product demos and get potential clients into your sales funnel.
SaaS products, unlike traditional software, are maintained and built by software companies. This means that they can be updated and improved continuously. They can also be more expensive to develop and maintain, and therefore require a longer sales cycle. SaaS sales professionals may need to engage in consultative sales, explain new product features, tailor pitches for each prospect and continue selling to existing customers. They might also need to bring on engineers or executives to assist with difficult sales.
What are Some Common SaaS Sales Models?
The most common SaaS models are used by many companies.
- Solution selling. This is a consultative approach in which the sales rep tries to understand the prospect’s problems and suggests bespoke solutions that will help them solve their specific business problem.
- Gap Selling. This is different from solution selling which assumes the client can identify the problems in their business. Instead, gap selling sells on the basis that the prospect will achieve the desired outcome. This involves identifying the difference between the prospect’s current situation (i.e. It involves identifying the gap between where they are (i.e. 20% customer churn annually) and where they want them to be (less than 5% customer churn annually) and then selling a solution.
- Challenger sales method. This method involves a sales representative who explains the product to the prospect and then takes over the sales process. The challenger sales method involves conducting extensive research on the prospect and trying to understand their needs.
- Self-service model. The customer self-service model uses robust digital infrastructure to educate and help the consumer understand pricing options. They can also complete purchases without having to interact with sales representatives.
What is the Typical SaaS Sales Process?
Many similarities exist between SaaS sales and other software sales processes. SaaS sales teams often work together to sell software. This includes identifying potential clients through research, connecting with them through email and phone calls, and pitching prospective clients. They also manage relationships with existing clients to ensure customer retention.
They differ in the length of their sales cycles. SaaS sales cycles can vary depending on the product’s price, complexity, and type of customer. SaaS sales cycles are often longer than other tech sales periods due to a variety of factors.
- No cost trials. Many SaaS businesses offer free software trials. This is a great way to get potential customers into your sales pipeline. However, a 30-day trial period can slow down the sales cycle by delaying the time when users must commit to an order.
- New markets. Since SaaS is still a new way to deliver software, companies that enter new markets often have to spend more on product marketing, education, and helping customers understand their value proposition. Sales teams must also invest in new business relationships, identifying qualified leads, and devising methods to target qualified prospects.
- Enterprise clients. B2B sales and enterprise sales can have a long cycle due to the many stakeholders involved and the signoffs required in order to close a deal.
- Software complexity. Complex sales strategies often require more involved sales techniques, such as product demonstrations that involve engineers and executives and making sure stakeholders are available to advocate for the product.
What does a SaaS Sales Team look like?
SaaS sales teams are similar to other tech sales teams. They comprise sales development representatives (SDRs), business development representatives (BDR), account managers, sales managers, sales engineers, outside sales reps, and other support and operations staff.
What are Some Common KPIs to Sell SaaS Products?
Sales and marketing teams use key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of their sales efforts. Some common KPIs when selling SaaS include customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, customer churn rates, customer churn, customer acquisition cost, and visitor and lead conversion rates.
Getting Into SaaS Sales: What To Expect
Although there is no one way to get started in SaaS, there are commonalities among most SaaS positions.
SaaS sales reps don’t usually need to have a college degree or previous industry experience in order to get an entry-level position. Managers are looking for people who can work well with others, collaborate well, and have the ability to adapt sales processes.
Sales reps should have a wide range of technical and soft skills. For the latter, candidates must be friendly, able to listen, detail-oriented, and a good communicators. Technically, candidates should be proficient in sales skills, including CRM experience, email proficiency, product knowledge, and familiarity with using client management tools. Many skills acquired in customer service and support roles can be transferred to sales positions.
The average salary for a SaaS representative is $79,451. This includes a base salary of $52,173 per annum and commissions of $27,277 annually. Cash bonuses, commissions, and tips are all possible additional pay.
Also read: Top 15 B2B Marketing Tools
How to Succeed in SaaS Sales
Here are some ways to boost your career if you have succeeded in getting your foot in the SaaS sales door.
Choose an Industry That Interests You
You will need to be a SaaS sales rep. This means you must know the software you are selling inside out, the market sector in general, and your competitors’ products and be passionate about helping clients solve business problems. It is important to find a niche that interests you and to sell a product you are passionate about.
Perfect Your Demo and Pitch
The first impression is only one, so make sure you perfect your demo and pitch. This includes knowing all about the product and understanding how to cater to different buyer personas, Being able to communicate to non-technical audiences the value proposition of your software, and using appropriate storytelling tools to win potential clients.
Find a Mentor
Research shows that mentors are a key part of career growth due to the guidance and insights they offer. Mentors are able to share their sales experience, provide guidance on how to navigate difficult prospects and deals, as well as create networking opportunities. Mentorship can be as simple as reaching out to an experienced sales professional in your company.
Keep Track of Everything
For any tech sales rep, and especially for SaaS salespeople, it is important to have strong organizational skills. It is important to make use of the most recent sales tools such as CRM software and sales intelligence platforms. SaaS sales representatives should track key metrics like customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime, customer churn rates, average customer lifespan, deal cycles, and customer churn.
Recognize That You Can’t do Everything
You’ll likely be working with a larger sales team and marketing team as a sales rep. Don’t be afraid of relying on your team. You’ll feel overwhelmed if you try to do everything from identifying leads to reviewing sales contracts to managing client relationships. If you look at the sales funnel as a group, you’ll be able to identify the areas where you can add the most value.
Find the Approach That Works for Your Audience
Different audiences respond differently to different communication methods, sales tactics, or incentives. It is important to know your target audience, their goals, budgets, and reservations. You might be surprised at how your target customers may respond to product discounts, free trials, demos in-depth with sales engineers, frequent email check-ins, or other low-touch correspondences.