SaaS Insights: Honing the Close

by Trevor


It seems everywhere you look now there is a tale of a SaaS startup absolutely crushing it with remarkable growth and impressive numbers all over the board. Sometimes it seems that they’ve made these achievements with ease, but usually, there is far more to the story.

Anyone who has been in the SaaS business for a while will tell you that it’s simply not easy achieving the growth required to render your SaaS viable — even if you really do have the best product invented since sliced bread.

Zig Ziglar got it right years prior to the SaaS phenomena when he said: “Every sale has 5 basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, or no trust.”

Depending on your pricing, you might not be able to do much about the money objection, but those other four are well within your control. Let’s look at a few insights for honing the close in your SaaS:

Building Trust

Building trust is really something which begins long before you’re asking for the close. It’s not like potential customers are likely to say “sign me up” as soon as they find you — there’s a period of investigation first where they are deciding whether a) you can meet a need they have and b) whether you are trustworthy.

A mistake that many SaaS make at this point is to put too much focus on features and perhaps talking up how great their company is. These do not build trust with the customer — oftentimes, a focus on features is confusing or not understood by the customer, leading to any talk of how great you are being completely negated.

On the other hand, if you want to start building trust well, here are a few things you should be doing from the beginning:

  • Focus on value to the customer. They may not understand all of your features, but that crucial “what’s in it for me” piece, when stated in their own language, can be a powerful trust builder.
  • No obligation free trials. Very few customers want to commit to purchasing a software untested. To further up the trust factor, consider whether allowing the trial without collecting credit card information will work for you.
  • Give them something of value. Besides your free trial, where else can you offer value? This may even be through the content you create to support your SaaS and provide ideas for common problems your customers have.
  • Make packaging and pricing transparent and easy for customers to understand.
  • Know and address the common reasons for mistrust. According to security of information and ongoing access to the product remain big concerns.


Why Your SaaS?

The SaaS market is very competitive; in most verticals, customers have options and they’re probably not overly precious about who they decide to go with as long as they appear to be getting the best value. Whether you’re a small startup or a large enterprise, the prospect will still need a compelling reason to choose you over others.

When you think about a company which has “raving” fans (Apple comes to mind!), one of the big draws tends to be an emotional resonance with the company. You may not have thought of it in these terms when it comes to growing a SaaS, but Fast Company refers to it as “building a movement.” This goes a long way toward creating that trust you need, too.

Whatever you do, whether it is telling your story, marketing, a sales conversation or the branding elements of your SaaS, you need to be reflecting that emotional dynamic you want to create for customers.

When should SaaS offer discounts? Grab our guide here:

The Case for Change

This is really addressing those “need” and “desire” problems. Sometimes SaaS are so new that the concept of what they’re offering hasn’t even been recognized as a problem yet by the prospect.

Sometimes it’s just that humans have a natural inertia and resistance to change.

The logical first step is to really get an understanding of the needs of the customer. If you work off the lower priced/ higher number of subscribers SaaS model, you’re probably not going for one-on-one sales with each customer, but some variance from the self-service model can actually help you out.

Spend some time talking to those whom you have identified as “ideal” customers for your SaaS. Pick up the phone and call them. If you want to better hone your close, then you need to have an intimate understanding of what makes them tick and what needs will really drive them to change. This can then be reflected in your copy and provide answers to questions such as “why do I need this?”

Enterprise sales work on this kind of basis constantly, needing to learn the specific needs of the company to which they are trying to sell, though of course, this is not always done very well. You can’t very well tell them what you think they need when you haven’t spent the time learning and understanding what they think they need.

The saying “always be closing” is appropriate here too. If you regularly measure data and seek feedback from current users, you get the opportunity to address their needs and encourage them to stay with you, while improving your value proposition to new clients. Kissmetrics points out that building in feedback loops provides you with more ways to demonstrate value and to continue with that building of trust.

Why Right Now?

The laid-back, “we’re in no hurry” approach doesn’t help your SaaS to reach those vital growth milestones you’re probably needing to hit in a relatively short period of time. This is a crucial objection to overcome in any kind of sales.

If your answer is something like “because right now we’re offering this huge discount”, you’re probably not on the right track. As Lincoln Murphy points out, the way SaaS pricing discounts are done most of the time will devalue your offering in the eyes of the customer. He further comments that “pricing objections are usually value objections.” If the customer is saying not right now because of the price, either they genuinely can’t afford the expense or they just can’t see the value in it.

If you’re using discounts at all, make them scarce so that they actually help create a sense of urgency. This could take the form of a limited period of time over which you’re offering a discounted rate for annual subscriptions, for example.

Besides that, “why right now?” involves being able to present a relevant business case to your prospects. With the incredible value you can bring them and the way you can help them save time/ streamline processes/ save money/ take a vacation, how does it not make sense to take advantage of these benefits as soon as possible?

Is it ok for SaaS to offer discounts? Check out our guide:

Final Thoughts

Any SaaS wanting to close more sales immediately has objections and obstacles before them to overcome with their prospects.

Zig Ziglar summed these up quite neatly with “no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, or no trust.”

Logically, trust is the first objection SaaS need to overcome, starting long before attempting to close the sale. Be seen delivering value, providing transparency and addressing common trust issues such as security and accessibility.

From there, your close will be many times improved if you have a good understanding of the customer, what they think they need and any needs they may not have identified themselves yet. What will your answers be to “why you, why do I need this and why right now?”

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