Founded in 2005, LucidEra was a SaaS startup offering analysis of CRM and ERP data. The company went out of business in 2009, after running into problems with longer sales cycles and its go-to market strategy. The customer base they focused on was sales departments, and the company relied on Salesforce's CRM data, for the most part. However, they did not combine it with data from marketing and finance departments. Like LucidEra, several other SaaS companies have collapsed after inflows of VC funding and failed to scale as a result. Any SaaS startup needs to be confident of their services and pricing, and target the right audience. Once you have a killer product, all you need are a few clear cut sales strategies to aim high.
1. Sales and marketing go hand in hand.
One common mistake most startups make is cold calling just about anybody on their lead list. This not only wastes a lot of time on the sales rep's part, but is also highly inefficient. Generating leads through marketing webinars, conferences, seminars, and social media can help drive sales drastically. Make sure to invest in your marketing strategy, as much as in sales and development.
2. Choose your battles wisely.
Not all deals necessarily generate a profit. Suppose a lead requires you to travel a lot or drags on for ages, taking up valuable time and resources of your sales representative, and it turns out it isn't really worth it. Don't just take any deal that comes your way. Define a set of guidelines for your organization's sales strategy, and stick to it.
3. Customer retention is key.
While closing new deals is imperative to scale sales, it's second only to customer retention. Imagine you've closed a deal a couple of years ago worth 10 grand. You've been struggling to close a new deal with a similar amount for the past six months. But that customer from a couple of years back was not properly onboarded, doesn't really have in-depth knowledge of the product, and receives the same impersonal message from support every time. The customer is not satisfied and moves on to a new product. You on the other hand win your new deal, after having spent 6 months of resources. So how have you profited from this exchange?
Scale your support alongside your sales, and you might just hit that balance.
4. Scale up, don't shave off.
What makes more sense: promoting a few of your experienced sales reps to sales managers, or sticking your rep in the same job for years and paying someone new a ton of money to do the same work? The former leads to greater employee satisfaction and more productivity because they are motivated to put forth their best effort. Instead of starting from scratch with a whole new team, fill the manager positions in-house with the most experienced sales reps. Then hire one new rep to fill their shoes
5. Give credit where credit is due.
Now this happens in a lot of firms. The superstar of the sales team is the person who bagged a deal worth a hundred grand. Another rep who spends all week closing 10 deals of 10 grand each isn't given the same credit. Laud every employee to what they're due.
6. Go freemium!
Most companies boast stellar prices for their product first and hike it up after a while. Fix your product's price and stick to it. If you think your product is worth the price tag, don't worry that it's on the higher end. Offer a free subscription for the first 15-30 days, and, if it's worth it, your prospect will take the bait. Or you can offer a freemium model indefinitely, with basic features limiting the number of users. Once your user has gotten comfortable and hits their limit or sees the need for more features, they can pay for an upgraded version. A way to stave off users who unsubscribe after a few months is by offering a lower budgeted annual subscription, as opposed to the slightly pricier monthly subscription.
7. Integrate with other products.
Let's face it. Your product might be great, but there's always a product out there that has a feature yours doesn't. Facilitating integrations and plugins can really boost your sales. Build a marketplace for your product before you pitch anything to your prospect.
8. You can't do everything yourself.
If you want to go international, you're going to need some help. If you're just starting your business, there's no way you'll be able to set up offices all over the globe. Instead, forge partnerships and get resellers for markets away from home. It's a win-win situation for both parties, and you'll be cutting costs phenomenally.
9. Get listed and reviewed.
10. Network, network, network.
Want valid prospects? Attend tradeshows, meetups, and seminars. Or even better, hold your own meetups, seminars, and workshops for your product, after due marketing research, of course, and gain prospects. This kind of networking allows you to give prosepcts a hands-on experience and interact with them one on one, improving your credibility and your chances of making a sale.