For small and mid-sized SaaS businesses, managing their sales pipeline often becomes hectic due to a haphazard sales process.
Being a founder of a small or mid-sized business, all the tasks fall into your to-do list and getting them done is your priority. Being a solo decision maker, all the verticals such as your product, customer, employees, finances, etc are your sole responsibility.
The basic mentality of every startup owner pushes them towards thinking more about
- The various ways to grow their business,
- Generate more leads,
- Capture more prospects,
- Make more paying customer base, and
- Keep increasing sales revenue every month.
You might have a decent flow of leads coming in every month with your marketing and content sharing efforts, yet, sometimes you feel your sales process is lacking something really important.
There can be many reasons for such a feeling.
- Your lead information is scattered all over the place.
- Maybe you are not able to follow-up with every lead on time.
- Or maybe you are even forgetting about these leads and remembering their existence after months or years.
- You may be experiencing a chaotic sales process and that must be affecting your sales pipeline health too.
The good news is, there are ways and methods that can help you curb the issue and streamline the sales process.
- Streamlining your sales process will help you maintain a healthy sales pipeline where the prospects are getting followed-up regularly and the deals are moving at a better pace.
- Such a healthy sales pipeline is really required for achieving good growth and scalability for your startup.
a) What will you learn today?
Today, in this post, I am going to help you understand the basic nuances of a healthy sales pipeline. I will also provide you with the information to help you develop a seamless sales pipeline for your SaaS product.
But before that, let’s talk about SaaS a bit more.
The world that was without SaaS
To explain SaaS to you, I must first take you back to the time when there was no SaaS!
When software as a service was not available to business over the cloud, there were times when small and mid-sized businesses missed on the use of technology to push their sales force ahead and bank on their effort to enhance the revenue.
Let’s say you were one of the businesses looking to purchase software for yourself. Your need may range from tracking your sales team’s individual work effective work hour or the sales activities they did in the past month and the related outcomes.
Or maybe you want to streamline your contact and all of their data in a centralized location using a CRM software.
- If you are a budget-driven business then having your own IT team is out of the question.
- You might have already outsourced your initial setup task to an IT team.
- The bill they charged you will stop you from consulting them again for getting an opinion on the types of above-mentioned software.
- If you are a growing business and you may have the budget to afford an IT consult. That IT person will recommend a few companies that can provide you with the required software.
- Once you shortlist a few of them, you meet them with your requirements.
- They share pricing details, send your proposal and the dotted lines get signed.
The process doesn’t end here. You get the software and then train team members. The implementation may take weeks or even a few months. There might be times when team members were not able to grasp the overall functionality of the software and even the complicated instruction manual is of little help.
Such situations create a void in your productivity, ultimately affecting your revenue cycle and profits.
b) What is SaaS?
Software as a service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet. – TechTarget
The digitized world allowed technology to utilize cloud computing and develop SaaS products that were also available to small and mid-size businesses.
- Your search for the required software online.
- Read the review on various rating sites.
- Shortlist a few of them.
- Select one out of your short list.
- You take a free trial to learn how the SaaS product functions for your business.
- You opt for the subscription based on the pay per user per month subscription model that modern SaaS products follow.
What is a SaaS product?
“The only thing that matters is the product/market fit.” – Marc Andreessen
SaaS product is the perfect reflection of the best practices of the evolving technology. Modern businesses are leaving dated legacy systems and introducing modern user interfaces to streamline their process.
- Such product allows you and your team to save more time with help of features like automation that cuts down your manual labor.
- Saving time on manual work allows your teams to perform their core activities freely and without much worry.
c) What is the sales pipeline?
The primary objective of a healthy sales pipeline is to provide a visually appealing and easily understandable view of your overall sales.
- The sales pipeline enables you in understanding how soon you will be able to achieve deal closure in the coming week, month or quarter.
- Sales pipeline lets business owners see the exact stage their leads currently are in.
- Knowing the stage, business owners and sales managers can strategize the strategies for moving these leads to the next stage eventually push them towards successful closure.
The stages in a sales pipeline depend on the sales process of individual organizations. Most sales pipeline have at least these five stages:
When your leads or prospects are in this stage, congratulate yourself as you’ve identified someone who’s interested in your offering.
You can successfully identify this crowd when they fill-up your website contact us form, opt for your free-trial, contact you about their issues and ask you if your solution will solve their problem.
In this stage of the sales process, your sales reps will be verifying if the prospect actually needs your solution.
It is really important for the sales reps to establish that your prospects actually see the potential value of your product. Your sales reps must also clear one fact that your prospects are having the budget to opt for your offering.
In this stage, your sales reps contact your prospects and have a brief conversation regarding their current problems.
This is a crucial stage where your sales reps assess the magnitude of the prospect’s problem and how much it is affecting their businesses’ revenue cycle. The assessment stage allows your team to know if your product can get rid of their pain points.
In this stage, your sales personal send out a proposal to the prospect explaining all the terms and condition of opting to your solution with the complete pricing structure and implementation time.
This stage also involves the sales reps to get your prospects to sign the contract and turn them into paying customers.
In this same stage, all those prospects who have opted for your free trial are contacted by your sales reps and persuaded for the paid subscription.
Convincing a client to choose your offerings over competitors is a challenging task. The best way to go about it share proposals that do the talking for you. Use simple language, present offer in a concise format, clearly specify pricing details when drafting your proposal, and convert clients to customers.
This is the final stage of a sales pipeline and the entire sales process.
In this stage, all the qualified prospects who sign the contract or successfully sign up for your paid subscription plan to use your service/product are counted. This is the stage where the result of Won or Close gets decided.
Both the outcome allows your sales managers to assess the entire process and understand the loophole, so the same mistake is not repeated in the future.
d) Importance of a managed sales pipeline for your SaaS product
Having a well-managed sales pipeline for your SaaS product will allow you to save more selling time. Not just that, you will save more resources and can direct them optimally towards winning more sales.
Your well-managed sales pipeline helps you:
- Eliminate various complexities inside your sales process
- Keeps your sales activities organized
- Stimulates timely actions resulting in better outcomes
- Tracks potential prospects
- Builds effective sales strategies for quickly pushing deals forward
- Make sure the deals don’t slip through the crack
e) Developing a seamless sales pipeline for your SaaS product
For your SaaS product, the sales pipeline might have a different look.
A new visitor lands on your website. He fills up his personal details in your contact us form. With the help of a smart sales CRM and its automation process, a new contact gets created inside the CRM system.
Not just that, a follow-up activity gets automatically created and assigned to your sales rep.
2. Contact made
A meeting or follow-up call with a demo is scheduled to help them understand how your product functions.
This demo session is the perfect opportunity for your sales reps to show the value your solution will add to their business process apart from solving their pain points.
In the next stage, your sales reps will verify if the prospects fit your ideal customer profile. It is important to remember that these prospects have the budget to opt for your solution and see the true value of your offering.
In this stage, the prospect signs up for a 30-day trial of the product where they just need to share their credit card information. They are charged only when the free trial ends, so they are not worried about being charged for no reason.
If those prospects who opted for free trial, continue using your solution after the 30-day duration then they have successfully converted into paid customers.
Wrapping it up
I hope this article will serve as a guideline for you to develop a seamless sales pipeline for your SaaS product.
I have been writing about startup tools, techniques, other startup related articles for a long time now. Based on my research and the various other references I have gone through, including a CRM in developing and managing your sales pipeline is a very smart and economical move.
You may think that being in the early startup days, you don’t require CRM as you can easily manage various things using spreadsheets.
This is where many startup owners make mistake.
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Once you are out there, you never stop yourself from making or creating conversation. Conversations always end up in creating connections and before you know it you have more than enough contacts that sometimes start slipping through the cracks.
Any missed opportunity at the early days of your startup will cost you majorly in the later years.
That is why you require a sales CRM that comes with features like, contact and deal management, sales and email automation, email tracking, built-in virtual phone system and a dashboard that allows you to view all your deals, contacts and company information at a single place.
So, make the smart choice and include CRM in your sales process for managing the sales pipeline of your SaaS product effectively.