Growing a SaaS (software as a service) business is very different from growing a hardware business. Beyond the simple fact that you cannot touch, parcel, or post your product to a prospective client, there are some pitfalls that hardware tech businesses simply don’t fall into.

Here are those pitfalls, along with my recommendations for how to avoid them.

1: You avoid jargon

Jargon! Everyone hates jargon, and many SaaS businesses avoid it like the plague because they know just how offputting it can be to prospective clients.

…the trouble is, if those potential clients are looking to purchase a solution in your industry, chances are they know the lingo – and if they don’t see you using it, they may assume that you simply don’t offer that type of functionality.

Solve this by: explaining the jargon when you include it. This helps with your SEO too (always a benefit).

2: You expect a short sales cycle

Your contact to contract time is critical: understanding that gives you great insight into your pipeline and helps you to make more accurate predictions for future growth.

But one of the definitions of a SaaS business is that a short sales cycle is rare. 

Much SaaS technology is business to business (B2B), rather than business to consumer (B2C). That means it’s unlikely that your target customers can impulse purchase: it’s far more likely that they will be purchasing by committee, and that sales process is far more likely to take several months.

Solve this by: building it into your pipeline plans and creating stratagems to move potential customers through your sales funnel as quickly as possible.

3: You ignore the power of the founder

When you’re selling a ‘thing’, you sell the thing: it’s features, benefits, and value. But you also sell the sensual element of that thing. How does it smell, what texture is it? Is it heavy? Does it expand in heat?

None of these questions are applicable for SaaS businesses, and in many cases, the most tangible thing about the business is your founder.

Now, I’m not recommending that you consider how your founder smells (or whether they expand in heat), but your founder should be a leverage point for your branding. They should be opening doors, both figuratively and literally, for your business.

Solve this by: profiling your founder, with their permission, and discussing as a team just how you want to put your founder out there.

4: You aren’t clear on what problem you’re solving

Hardware typically does one thing. Software can do many things, but that can cause your messaging to become a little vague. If people don’t understand what problem you are solving, or even what the problem is in the first place, that can make the whole conversation a little more difficult.

Solve this by: viewing your core messaging every quarter. It may feel excessive, but better to check often and keep it relevant than allow customers to walk away.

5: You don’t talk about your success

Your competitors are good at talking about their success, and that means you are allowing them to crowd you out of your target marketplace. When SaaS purchases are reviewed infrequently, that does not leave many opportunities for you to disrupt – and that means that each and every time you have a success, you need to be talking about it.

Solve this by: asking yourself every Friday lunchtime – how did we kick ass this week? Then share that through social media and your company website.

Selling SaaS doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be complex. Avoiding these five mistakes will make your life a little easier.

Disagree with me? Email me (Emily) now!

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