Updated: Sep 30
With advancements in technology and the ability to reach target clients like never before, it is easy to overestimate how straightforward it is to sell Business-to-Business (B2B) software-as-a-service (SaaS).
As any founder (or anyone that is responsible for selling) would know, it seems to be getting harder not easier! Read on to discover the keys to unlocking sales to accelerate your learning in this space.
Moving from the Information Age to the Influence Age
Today, clients have so much information at their fingertips, that by the time they engage with the market, they are potentially up to 70% through their buying cycle, with nearly fully formed ideas on what, and even who, they want to solve their business problem.
This presents a real challenge for disruptive startups entering the market who risk having their unique value overlooked if they are not already on their target client’s radar.
To improve business outcomes and create a scalable sales process, startups need to engage earlier in the clients’ buying cycle to influence their thinking and illuminate the business challenges and potential pitfalls arising.
Startups can then demonstrate their solution, and value, before the client commences their buying cycle – ideally, even before the client fully understands the business cost of this problem in their organisation today.
Put simply, B2B SaaS businesses need to transition from the Information Age to the Influence Age.
Providing information is no longer enough. They need to help define problems and guide clients towards the best solutions. This helps their target clients in two ways:
To guide their clients understanding of the scale and impact of the existing business problem
To demonstrate how the solutions being innovated today can transform their bottom line.
This will facilitate better buying decisions for clients and better sales outcomes for startups – a win-win situation!
To be able to influence, we must first understand the stages the clients go through in making a decision to buy and align our marketing and sales efforts to maximise the chances of success.
Moving into the Influence Age – Where to Enter the Client Buying Process
Do you have a demand issue or a sales problem?
Many SaaS organisations, regardless of being Business-to-Consumer (B2C) or B2B, have a demand issue within their business, rather than a sales problem.
Ask yourself, if your business received 10x the number of orders today than you are accustomed to, can you take those orders and successfully transition them through to sales (potential delivery issues aside)? If the answer is yes, you probably don’t have a sales problem.
The root cause of what is often perceived as a business’s sales problems is that there is insufficient demand for their offering, which could be for several reasons.
Creating demand has traditionally been a two-pronged strategy: identify and define Product/Market Fit and Market the business’ solution. These two strands worked together to provide a coherent and effective message, create demand, and increase sales and market share.
Once Product/ Market Fit was achieved through the identification of the problem, and the solution provided, it was up to Marketing to create demand. This could occur through a variety of channels, including blog posts, strategically placed advertising, and sponsorships.
In short, you went to meet the clients where they were. Your Sales team received, followed up and closed on the leads generated. Once these two functions were working well, it was expected sales would accelerate and predictable sales growth could then be achieved.
This works well in the B2C context where subscription is low enough that a consumer will typically make a purchasing decision quickly. Netflix, Spotify and LinkedIn are great examples of the success of this strategy, however, for high-subscription B2B SaaS businesses, there is a critical component missing for sales success.
Sales Market Fit – what is it?
In more complex SaaS sales involving B2B, or B2E (Business-to-Enterprise), the marketing and sales approach outlined above breaks down. Where the subscription begins creeping over $1000-$2000 per month and multiple people are involved in making the decision-making process, your business needs to devise a strategy to influence your target clients thinking so they see “their challenges” in a unique way only your offering can solve. Without doing this, you are competing on a losing playing field as long-term competitors have a huge advantage with more functionality, long-term clients and established credibility.
Surprisingly, a deliberate effort to find the right sales market fit, and how your business uniquely adds and demonstrates that value to the market, is largely overlooked by most SaaS businesses – and this has a critical impact on the businesses ability to achieve the desired accelerated, predictable growth.
The Sales Market Fit Framework is the process of understanding what influences exist in your target markets (and tiers within those markets) and aligning your right sales efforts accordingly to lead and influence your target clients through their buying journey as efficiently as possible.
There are a few standout examples where companies such as Atlassian, Slack and Zoom have applied the right sales market fit for their B2B SaaS offering, by entering a lower tier of a market and as a business grows and their features increased, they moved up the tiers, generating more revenue, and displacing long-term competitors.
Finding the right Sales Market Fit at MyPass Global
Similar to most SaaS businesses, selling complex, big-ticket solutions to enterprises, for Scalare Portfolio company, MyPass, their biggest competitor was indecision. Before applying the right market fit, indecision was extending MyPass’ length of sale considerably and impacting repeatable scalable growth in 2021 and beyond.
In the first half of 2021, MyPass are focusing on moving into the Influence Age, and helping our target clients measure, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the financial and risk impacts their current processes around planning, sourcing, and onboarding their contingent workforce are having on their business (Problem Definition) and continuing to apply the new influence sales model long after landing on our clients’ radars.
If these problems are substantial enough, indecision will be very uncomfortable for the business and they will need to find a solution, for instance, MyPass Global’s digital workforce management system.
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