The software as a service (SaaS) sales cycle is no easy nut to crack.
SaaS sales cycles typically involve many different stages and are often directed toward a wide variety of different buyer personas. There’s a lot that goes into closing SaaS deals, and in order to do this efficiently, you need to have a solid understanding of each stage of the sales journey.
To help you optimize your sales process, this guide explores the SaaS sales cycle in-depth, including the different stages of this journey and some best practices you can apply.
Understanding the SaaS Sales Cycle
The SaaS sales cycle refers to all of the different stages and activities involved in selling software products. This includes acquiring new customers, as well as retaining existing customers.
The entire SaaS sales cycle covers every step a customer takes from discovering your SaaS product to completing their purchase, and beyond. The process encompasses prospecting, lead generation, post-sales support, and customer success.
It’s essential that SaaS businesses understand each stage of the sales cycle and know how to effectively manage each stage. This helps to streamline and speed up sales processes, optimize revenue generation, and help build long-term relationships with customers.
Why is the SaaS Sales Cycle Unique?
Selling software as a service is a totally different process compared to selling traditional consumer goods.
With SaaS, you’re selling a long-term, subscription-based product. This means it’s not just a process of selling something upfront, but SaaS sales teams need to sell items with long-term value. This is why it’s so important for these sales teams to effectively prove the value of their software products to customers and show the long-term nature of these products can help them.
SaaS sales are also typically directed toward businesses instead of individual consumers. B2B sales processes are a completely different ballgame, as there are generally more steps involved and more stakeholders and decision-makers to deal with. This means SaaS sales teams need to understand how to connect with the right people and convey the right type of value in their sales pitches to appeal to B2B buyers.
Stages of the SaaS Sales Cycle
The SaaS sales cycle entails various stages. It’s important to clearly understand and differentiate each stage of this sales pipeline to help your team optimize each process.
While the sales cycle may look slightly different for each business and product, there are always five main stages involved. These are:
- Prospecting: Identifying your target customers and making your product visible to them
- Qualifying leads: Identifying your highest quality leads and following up with them
- Negotioation: Discussing and addressing your lead’s concerns to help them progress in the sales cycle
- Closing: Closing the deal and turning your sales prospects into paying customers
- Nurtruing: Maintaining relationships with existing customers to boost retention and customer loyalty
These five stages provide a very general overview of the SaaS sales cycle. However, sales cycles typically involve a few more stages and can be more complex than this.
Let’s break these stages down in more detail.
The pre-sales stage is all about creating a solid foundation for successful sales efforts. The main focus here is identifying your target customers, building brand awareness, and developing a solid value proposition.
Finding Your Target Market
This should be done before even launching the SaaS product, but it also needs to be covered before starting your SaaS sales cycle.
Deeply understand the target customers who would be interested in your product. This should involve creating target audience personas and understanding the specific industries, niches, and customer segments that your software appeals to.
Develop a Value Proposition
Your value proposition conveys the unique benefits and value that your SaaS solution provides. Developing this is essential for attracting the right customers and getting them interested in what you offer.
Your value position should clearly outline how your product solves your target audience’s pain points (which would be established in the step above).
Build Brand Awareness
This is more of a marketing than a sales task, but it’s an essential step in the SaaS sales cycle. You need to generate brand awareness to gain visibility and credibility in the market. This will help you reach your target audience and create demand for your software products.
This is the part of the SaaS sales cycle where the actual selling takes place. Once you’ve established the foundation for your sales strategy, it’s time to generate leads, qualify them, and convert prospects into customers.
Lead generation is when you identify and attract potential customers who show an interest in your SaaS products. This is also more of a marketing tactic and is focused on gathering the contact details and information of potential customers.
Once you have generated leads, you can add them to your sales pipeline. But first, you need to qualify your leads.
Not all leads are the same. Some leads have a far greater chance of becoming customers than others, so your sales team needs to qualify which leads are most likely to convert into paying customers.
This process involves assessing how well your SaaS product solution aligns with the lead’s interests and situation. Once you have qualified leads, the sales team can then interact with these leads in an attempt to turn them into customers.
Now that you have qualified leads, one of the most effective tactics for turning them into customers is offering a product demo. This is especially important in the SaaS sales cycle, as software products are not tangible. So, potential customers will want to see exactly how they work and what kind of value they offer before making a purchase decision.
Product demos involve getting qualified leads onto a live call and displaying the functionality of your software product first-hand. Your product demo presentation should be personalized and tailored to each lead to boost the chances of success.
A great product demo experience will help you address any possible concerns or questions your leads have. It also helps you display the value of your product in a more relevant way.
69% of consumers believe that a product demo assists them in making a purchase decision. Offering compelling and well-crafted product demos is an essential part of any effective SaaS sales cycle.
Closing the Deal
After a compelling demo, your prospects should be ready to make a purchase. This is every sales rep’s favorite part of the sales cycle – finally negotiating and closing the deal.
Although the prospect might be interested in purchasing the software, they might still have a few reservations and objections. This is why it’s so important for SaaS sales teams to possess strong communication and negotiation skills. This will help sales teams establish a package or solution that works best for the customer – helping to secure the deal.
Post Sales Stage
You’ve generated a sale, but this doesn’t mean the SaaS sales cycle is over. To ensure maximum customer lifetime value, a few post-sale strategies should be implemented.
Onboarding and Implementation
This process involves setting customers up for success when they get started with your software products. This can include training, answering any questions, and offering technical assistance. Onboarding is typically not carried out by the sales team, but it does form an essential part of the sales process.
By providing thorough onboarding, you can improve the customer experience in a big way. Onboarding will also help your customers to access more value from your software – which helps with retention.
Customer success teams ensure customer satisfaction is maintained throughout a customer’s contract. This stage is all about addressing any customer issues and providing support where needed to ensure customers always have a positive experience.
Renewals and Upselling
Finally, SaaS sales teams need to focus on generating renewals, or possible upsells, at the end of each customer’s contact. This is important for generating long-term recurring revenue.
Upselling is only possible by looking into the ever-changing needs and demands of your customers. Then you can offer additional solutions that add more value to the customer, and generate more revenue for your business.
As it can be five times more expensive to acquire new customers than sell to existing ones, this is a vital step in the SaaS sales cycle.
SaaS Sales Cycle Best Practices
We’ve covered the main steps involved in the SaaS sales cycle. In order to make these steps run smoothly, and get more leads flowing through your sales funnel, you’ll need to keep a few best practices in mind.
Even though every software product is unique, here are some essential tips every SaaS sales team should follow:
- Identify and monitor the key metrics that help you understand the success of your sales cycle
- Use a reliable CRM solution to view the history and status of each prospect and customer
- Personalize each customer’s sales experience as much as possible. Personalization is key to closing more deals
- Use the right sales software to assist each stage of the sales cycle. This maximizes efficiency and helps you deliver more powerful customer experiences. For example, using the right live demo experience platform can significantly increase your win rate
By understanding the complete SaaS sales cycle, you’ll be able to optimize each stage of the journey for your prospects. Get this right, and you can speed up the sales process, close more deals, and generate more recurring revenue.
Of course, you’ll need to have the right tools in place to make the most of this sales cycle. By using a platform like Saleo, you can enhance your live demo experience with personalized data to help you close deals faster. Request a demo to see the platform in action and discover how it can help boost your SaaS sales cycle.