Why Your SaaS Sales Depend on Data More Than Ever

Every SaaS business is aiming for sales success.

However, earning more revenue isn’t always a direct path. It’s a winding road of trial and error with internal and external factors.

Data is one solution to your sales woes. It can help your team discover gaps in the customer experience and transform your overall strategy.

The SaaS industry is a highly competitive market. As more companies emerge to claim their stake, use data to nurture your audience.

Products Don’t Sell Themselves

Your team can build a revolutionary product, but if no one understands its value, your target market may decide not to purchase it.

SaaS companies must realize that products don’t sell themselves. And while there are some exceptions to that statement, it’s better to train your sales team to solve people’s problems, rather than hope your audience will figure it out on their own.

Equip your team with the data to make better decisions during the sales cycle. Knowing vital information, like a prospect’s budget, personality, and beliefs, can determine how a sales rep prepares for a follow-up call.

And it’s not enough to just to talk about value with your SaaS prospects. It’s about creating something greater than what they already expected. Mark Cranney, operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz, writes:

“Some people think the sales force’s job is to communicate value to customers. To these people, sales is about buying a bunch of search Adwords or mouthpiecing a company’s message. They’re wrong. The true purpose of sales is to create new value for customers.”

To develop new value, it starts with personalization. You want to help customers find the solution to their problem, not just any problem. And that means having an open dialogue with your audience.

Below is an example from Attach, a sales engagement platform. The company uses live demos to start customer conversations. You’ll notice how the free demo is customized to cover the needs of the potential user.

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How are you personalizing the experience? Give your product more worth by solving the customer’s unique issues.

Customer Experience Reigns Supreme

Your team’s mission is to dive into the product usage data to find glitches. By alleviating the everyday pains of the customer, they’ll have more time to reap your product’s benefits.

And that’s what you truly want. More value received means customer success and possibly a notable case study for your business.

Sales isn’t the sole responsibility of your sales team. Every team member is responsible for customer success, from lead to brand advocate. That’s why the overall customer experience matters throughout the entire journey.

Every customer interaction will determine whether a trial user becomes a customer or a recurring customer decides to continue with his service.

Communication is essential when making each customer experience worthwhile. If a lead has questions about a particular plan, are your sales reps readily available with answers?

If a customer wants to troubleshoot a quick problem, do you have an accessible knowledge base with detailed instructions?

“An enterprise software company that designs for IT and neglects to create a delightful user experience will lose when it comes to adoption. Emphasis on product usability and design will separate the winners from the losers in the world of SaaS,” states Jeetu Patel, vice president and general manager of EMC’s Syncplicity Business Unit.

Zoho Books updated its application to combat product workflow and visual design issues. With lots of experimentation, the team made the product better. Below is a side-by-side comparison from its old tabbed navigation to a new left-sided navigation.

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Selling SaaS platforms involves everyone on your team. It’s one of the few ways to guarantee a memorable customer experience.

Customer Support Matters

Speedy and polite customer support teams play an integral role in SaaS sales.

It’s not enough to get a visitor to click purchase. You need knowledgeable staff to help customers.

Repeatedly, companies fail to offer superior support that not only answers the customer’s questions, but also reassures the customer that the brand is a leader in the industry.

Think of the support team as the front line of your brand. They mold people’s perceptions.

And it’s not unheard of for customers to love a brand’s products, yet decide to buy from a competitor because they offer better customer support.

In a fast-paced society, consumers want immediate access to their questions. Social media has offered businesses the chance to meet customers on their playing field.

Companies are answering service questions on Twitter, while moving complex issues to direct messages. Teams are even using social media to create moments of delight—recognizing customers for their brand loyalty.

Moreover, customers want to talk to a real person who can empathize with their issues. Live chat eases consumer anxiety.

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Be mindful of how to use chat support to gain the most value. Respond in a timely manner and speak in a conversational tone—a few emojis can brighten up the mood. And add a photo to build a human connection with the customer.

Avoid neglecting customer support in the sales process. Set the baseline by giving customers your undivided attention.

Higher Retention Means Higher Expectations

With a host of competitors at their fingertips, customers desire SaaS companies to exceed their expectations. If not, they may decide to take their business elsewhere.

Research continues to prove that it’s more profitable to retain customers than acquire them. However, what’s rarely mentioned is how to retain customers.

Retention programs aren’t one size fits all across the SaaS industry. Every company possesses its own set of unique challenges to keep customers interested.

For instance, teams are quick to develop loyalty programs to engage their brand ambassadors. They start sending out email campaigns with discounts and inviting advocates to VIP events.

But that’s not always the best option for your customers. By asking for feedback and observing user behavior, you might discover that a Facebook group with exclusive content can achieve similar or better results.

Simply recognizing your customers can lead to retention, too. Are you highlighting your top customers on your site? RescueTime dedicates an entire page to showcase customer stories.

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Customer retention also extends to your internal operations. Your sales framework must encourage team members to address retention.

“Once HubSpot realized that their churn rate was a sales problem, they dug into the data once again to determine the catalyst. As it turned out, the sales compensation plan they had in place was practically encouraging reps to ignore the potential for churn,” writes Sonja Jacob, former director of content marketing at Mattermark.

Achieving higher retention rates requires doing things differently. Find out what works best for your company.

Data Leads The Way

Sales reps need accurate insight to close deals. With data, your team has the opportunity to uncover customer issues and address operational challenges.

More than ever, prepare your SaaS company to dominate the competition. Seek to deliver customer satisfaction along with higher ROI. Let data lead the way.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.


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How to Turn Cold Facebook Traffic into Red Hot Leads

Breaking news! Facebook is popular, with 1.86 billion monthly active users, and 1.23 billion daily active users.

Admittedly, not the scoop of the year. How about this?

This just in! Facebook ads accounted for 97% of its revenue in 2016, and the social media platform makes more from advertising than traditional sources like Disney, Comcast, and CBS.

You may have already known that, but the stats are impressive nonetheless:

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So it’s a no-brainer, right? Easy-peasy. Get started today, and watch the dollars and cents come knocking at your door by tomorrow. It’s got the numbers, and it seems like everyone is doing it.

Not so fast. There’s an art to this.

An Important Service Reminder

The thing to remember about Facebook is that it’s cold traffic. Nearly two billion people are using it, but it’s not the same as, say, Google Adwords. There, someone navigates to the search engine, types in “cheap smartphones phoenix”, and is served up an appropriate ad with the organic results. That’s warm traffic.

We know their intention (in this case, they’re looking for an affordable smartphone in Phoenix, Arizona). AdWords and Facebook Ads are fundamentally different in this way.

On the social media behemoth, we don’t know why they’re on the platform. They might be updating their status, looking at photos from friends and family, checking the news (66% of American adults get their news on Facebook), or simply killing time.

What they’re probably not doing is looking for new shoes, or a cloud accounting service, or designer sunglasses. That’s cold traffic.

The good news? You can turn cold Facebook traffic into red hot leads if you use ads the right way.

There are plenty of Facebook Ad tips and secrets posts out there for you to devour (design tips, testing secrets, and so forth). And you should. Instead, let’s focus on warming that cold traffic to the point of boiling, shall we?

Let’s do this.

Step 1 – Start with Your Warmest Cold Traffic

Sounds a bit paradoxical, but hear me out.

There are 1.23 billion active users on Facebook, but most of them are simply not interested in whatever it is you’re offering. That’s the harsh reality.

But Facebook is a marketers dream, with unparalleled targeting abilities. Think about it: everyone who signs up voluntarily provides data about themselves, their interests, their demographics, their likes, the businesses and groups they follow, and more.

Begin by identifying your ideal customers. Create very detailed buyer personas so you understand everything about them.

Next, zero in on them in your Facebook ad. You can target by location, age, gender, language, interests, behavior, and demographics. Be specific.

A protein supplement for young men? Find them. Will every male between the age of 20-40 be responsive? Nope. But they’ll be much warmer than a 53-year old woman.

Heat rating: room temperature.

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Step 2 – The Awareness Game

According to the iconic marketing book Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz, there are five levels of awareness in the buyer’s journey.

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You need to know exactly where your target falls on that spectrum, because it’ll influence the ad content you present.

To use our protein supplement example, the targets already know that supplements exist and what they do, but they’ve probably never heard of yours.

They need to be made “product aware” (your new supplement), and they need some incentive (discounts and deals) to give it a try and switch from whatever one they’re currently using.

That’s what your ads need to provide them.

If, on the other hand, you were the first to create a protein supplement, you’d start at the “solution aware” stage and offer claims and proof instead.

Heat rating: lukewarm.

Step 3 – Educate Above All Else

Consumers need to know more about your product or service before they hand over their cash. They need context. They need specific on who you are, what it does, why they need it, and what it’ll do for them.

To do that, consider a series of ads that enlightens them one step at a time. Takes longer, sure, but you’ll see a better conversion rate overall.

FBA Wizard had a FB ad that took people to a landing page to sign up for a free trial. It was your basic “Here’s something. Get it” approach. Conversion rate? About 1%.

Not good enough. They switched to a 4-part video series delivered over four days to their “warmest” cold traffic that educated people on the product and its context incrementally. The result? They nearly tripled the CVR to 2.93%.

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Educate first, pitch second. Woo them before you sell them. The traffic temperature is starting to rise.

Heat rating: getting hot.

Step 4 – Target Reacquired

How often do you see an ad for the first time, click, and purchase? Most people – and this is especially true for cold traffic – need to see something multiple times before they pull the trigger.

Enter retargeting.

Using the Facebook pixel – a small snippet of code installed on your website – you can retarget people who have visited your blog, or landing page, or whatever.

They check out your supplement product page without buying, for example, but then see an ad with additional details for the same product on Facebook and make the leap.

That’s the power of remarketing. In the FB Averts Manager, under Audience, click on Create New > Custom Audience > Website Traffic and fill in the details.

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You can also opt to retarget individuals who have engaged with your Facebook content directly – such as your Page, your lead ads, your videos – under Audience > Create New > Custom Audience > Engagement on Facebook.

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Between the two – your site and Facebook itself – your bases are covered.

Heat rating: scalding.

And that’s that. We slowly turned up the heat and made cold traffic a scalding hot lead by approaching Facebook ads intelligently and zeroing in.

Too many marketers play the numbers game on Facebook, believing that with nearly two billion people on the platform, someone is bound to bite.

They might. But isn’t your business worth more than “might”. Start with your warmest cold traffic (your ideal customers), identify their awareness stage (and create your ad accordingly), educate before you pitch them, and retarget as necessary.

Cold to warm to warmer to red hot. That’s the right plan. Otherwise, you’re simply handing your money to Mark Zuckerberg (and I hear he’s doing “okay” financially).

Have you tried Facebook Ads? What was your experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author: Alex Fedotoff combines consumer psychology, conversion optimization, and Facebook advertising to consistently scale his clients’ businesses in ecommerce and SaaS niches. He is the Founder of AF Media, one of the most sought-after Facebook advertising agencies in the world, and is managing about $2.5 million dollars in profitable monthly ad spend. You can connect with him on Facebook.


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