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B2B SaaS: The Need to Focus on SMEs for Growth
Posted on January 9th 2014
The SaaS and cloud software market is relatively new and is very dynamic. Be open to experimentation and find your own mix of value propositions, offers, marketing messages and sales tactics to appeal to the B2B buyer.
Unlike big enterprises, the majority of selling to SMBs can be done using the relatively easier internet marketing techniques which brings us back to the importance of managing content effectively.
Focus on using simplified content marketing. Rather than including all market segments, buyer personas and buying stages, keep your content initially focused only on a single market segment, one or two primary buyer personas and the three primary stages of purchasing – the awareness, discovery and decision making stage.
1. Focus on the business value of your cloud software
Hard technical data – specifications, speeds and feeds take a backseat in SaaS because they are largely encapsulated in the cloud. Consequently, your marketing message should focus on the business value delivered by your software.
When selling to SMBs, talk about the process your solution automates or enables, additional costs it reduces, doors to new opportunities it unlocks and other value propositions. Embedding common cloud advantages in your sales pitch will help you convince your business buyer further.
2. Shine the spotlight on the SaaS pricing model
Cloud services have enabled businesses to access vital solutions for smaller fees and make sure you highlight this aspect especially when selling to SMBs where costs tend to be a major concern.
Explain how the subscription model will allow the business to implement the solution faster without wasting time in meetings, negotiations and multi-level sign offs before a traditional software is purchased by making huge one-time payments to cover the licensing fees. SaaS on the other hand allows for a reduced purchasing time, lesser cost and faster implementation time.
3. Include the utility of free or trial versions in your sales pitch
You can project a stronger call to action by providing free or trial versions of your solution. With SaaS you have the option of providing 'freemium versions' of your solution – a version that works for 30 days, or works on two or three parallel projects or a version with no premium features.
Once the business buyer agrees to use the trial version, you can up-sell the premium solution later.
Trial versions strengthen your marketing efforts in a second way too – they allow you to document the trial features being actually used by the prospect. You can use this information to leverage your sales and marketing pitch. You can also use this information to score similar leads and indicate your software's sales readiness.
4. Address concerns upfront
SaaS buying businesses do have their own concerns – privacy, legal compliance, regulatory concerns, availability of services and so on. Address these concerns upfront and prevent them from becoming a liability.
These concerns already stand the risk of being exploited by on-premise peers. You don't want to lose customer confidence further by avoiding those concerns. Address issues that effect your business buyer directly and present your solution for each of these concerns.
5. Don't slow down post sign-up, engage aggressively
So, all the cajoling resulted in your business buyer hitting the sign up button. What now? It is important not to slow down here, especially if you've pitched a trial version and would like to up-sell later.
Optimize the first in-application experience and drive engagement aggressively. Instead of leaving the user alone to figure out how to begin using your solution, provide them a rich first time in-app experience and convert the trial user into a paying customer.
Engineer your cloud software such that it incorporates sharing features – yes, it's true, B2B SaaS products go viral too. Cloud software providers like Yammer and Box owe a lot of their huge B2B, Fortune 500-like customers to internet virality.