The SaaS sales process is the step-by-step approach that an organization uses to sell software effectively to customers. To succeed in the world of SaaS (software as a service) sales, you need an optimized sales process. The longer your Sales team has to spend educating prospects on your solution, the more friction in the process for both Sales and prospective clients. Prospects may lose interest in the product due to lack of education. Sales may spend too much of their time with prospects who are not the right fit for your solution. At the end of the day, you don’t want to waste your prospects’ time or your own time.
Recording, sharing, and scaling customer data is the key to a better sales process. When your sales process is a well-oiled machine, Sales records customer insights, Sales Enablement communicates those insights throughout the organization, and SEOs scale those insights. In order to understand how these roles fit together, it’s important to understand how each role works.
The SaaS Sales Process Today
The SaaS sales process is a team effort. While selling software requires an extremely smart and experienced salesperson, it’s not a one-woman show. The sales cycle can stretch for 3-6+ months long, with 8 or more departments involved in moving deals across the finish line.
Often, when a prospective software buyer starts looking for a solution, they don’t yet know what type of solution would solve their problem – all they know is that they have a problem.
Hubspot found that people do 12 searches on average before engaging with any specific brand’s site when looking for a B2B solution.
So when a lead comes across your website, Marketing jumps in immediately to nurture the lead, providing them with valuable, educational resources until they’re ready to start a conversation. Then, enter the salesperson, diving in to understand the lead’s business challenges and determine if the partnership between lead and SaaS solution could be a good fit.
From there, a Sales Engineer or Solutions Consultant might join the conversation to go deeper on the product and solution. Expert researchers can be brought in to communicate the full scope of the opportunity for the lead. Executives help out along the way, and Marketing often jumps back in to lend a hand with presentations. Like I said, SaaS sales are a team effort.
Sounds like the team is using a lot of resources, right? But how could it be better?
The SaaS SEO Process Today
The answer lies in SEO, so before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what SEO is. SEO enables your organization to improve your content’s rankings on search engines using your website and search data.
There are many ways to approach SEO, but one of the most important practices is to do research on search engine keywords. When you choose the right keywords to create content around, you reach more people with content that’s valuable to them. This drives higher traffic to your website and produces more leads for your organization. In this way, SEO opens new doorways for prospects to your website and ensures that prospects are well informed about how your product can help them.
In short: Keyword Research-> Content Creation/Optimization-> Education -> Conversion
A SaaS Sales Model Informed by SEO
Your Sales team is good for more than just sales – it is also your best source of first-party customer data. The Sales organization is on the front lines of conversations with prospects, so it has a deep understanding of their challenges and needs. These challenges can be the inspiration for a great deal of valuable educational content for your website.
Meanwhile, SEO is a great source of third-party customer data in the form of search data. What if there was some way to connect your first- and third-party customer data to get a complete picture of the needs of your customers and prospects and address these needs at scale with content? That’d be pretty cool, huh?
We can make this beautiful dream a reality by adding two roles, Sales Enablement and SEO, to the SaaS sales process.
Sales Enablement, which usually sits between Sales and Marketing, is in the perfect spot to relay the customer needs uncovered by Sales back to the Marketing team and, specifically, to the SEO.
The SEO can then do keyword research around those needs and create new educational content to satisfy them.
Not only is this content a great new resource for Sales to share with leads, but it can also help prospects early in the research phase before they even know what type of solution they need.
An Example of How We Bring SEO and Sales Together at Conductor
One of our Account Executives at Conductor was deep into conversations with a business whose team was trying to decide whether it wanted to buy an SEO platform or use its internal resources to build its own business intelligence solution. Our sales rep relayed this challenge back to our Marketing team through our Sales Enablement team, and voila – a blog post was created to help this particular lead. Not only that – our SEO optimized the post so that other prospects facing the same decision would find it through organic search and get the help they need.
Enablement & SEO Close the SaaS Sales Feedback Loop
An optimized SaaS Sales process creates a flow of data that enables you to better inform your customers of the value of your solution from their first interaction with your brand. If the messaging surrounding your product online doesn’t match what your customers are looking for, it’s tough to source the leads that Sales needs. Enablement is the thread that empowers your SEO team to develop an organic strategy driven & scaled by the needs of real prospects.
Learn how our marketing executives are expanding organic marketing programs in our 2019 Marketing Executive Strategies Report.
[This article was co-authored by Ellie von Reyn.]