SaaS Sales and Marketing – An Overview

Have you ever wondered what a SaaS company is?

Do you want to know how they finds customers?

And also what does a sales role in SaaS company looks like?

I am a Business Development Executive at SaaS company which makes legal software. Today I am going to give you a sneak peak into what goes inside a sales and marketing function of a SaaS company.

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Let us start with understanding what SaaS company means?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Google, Facebook Salesforce are all SaaS companies. In earlier days like the 1990s and early 2000s software was installed on individual desktops or company servers. SaaS companies like Google and Yahoo were there at that time but it was Amazon Web Services which grew the number of SaaS companies by making IT infrastructure affordable for developers.

Remember installing VLC Media player to watch your favorite movie? Well that was mostly before Netflix which is also a SaaS company. To watch a movie on VLC you downloaded the movie and the VLC media player on your system, installed the player on your system and then played the movie on it. Not any more. Netflix can be accessed over the internet just like your gmail and the movie can be directly played on it. No downloading of the software or the movie is required. Any software service offered over the internet is called Software as a Service or SaaS.

Cab services like Uber and OLA are SaaS companies.Amazon and Flipkart which deliver utility items are also SaaS companies. Even the Google maps that you use to get from point A to point B is a SaaS company.

Let us now understand how these SaaS companies find customers?

It is actually very simple. They go where the customers are. And where are their customers? On the Internet. Simple. The Internet has reached billions of people around the world and most of them spend from a few hours to almost their entire working hours on the internet. On the internet they are doing either of these two things.

  1. Finding solution to their problem
  2. Entertainment

If they are finding a solution to their problem and your company or you as an individual freelancer have a solution to their problem then all you have to do is to present yourself or your services in front of them. Majority of the people search solution to their problems by searching them on Google Search. If you are listed in the search result and the customer connects with you then you have prospective customer. This is called INBOUND Marketing because the customer is searching for your product or service and they are coming IN towards you. You can do INBOUND marketing on the internet through Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization etc.

On the other hand if you have a list email ids and you think some of them might become your customers then you might consider sending them an email. Remember at this point the customer is not looking for a solution to their problem. They might not even know they have a problem. You are connecting to them to trigger a thought in their mind about your product and service. This is called OUTBOUND marketing. This can be done by email marketing, social media and advertisement etc

Now let us look what a Salesperson does in a SaaS company?

Gone are the days when increase in sales was directly related to increase in the number of salespeople. In fact most of the SaaS companies have very few Sales people compared to the revenue they generated if you compare them to non tech or non SaaS company. The sales function has been highly automated like any other business function.

With automation you can reach billions of people with a single click or pinpoint an exact customer across the globe using Google Ads and Google Analytics. Most of the information about the customer can be collected online through search trends, social media profiles or other internet activities. With online payment gateways like Paytm and Google Pay you can purchase any product without ever seeing the face of a salesman.

Does it mean salespeople are not required in a Saas company ? The answer is Yes and No

Yes because anything that can be automated or can be done by computers will be done by computers because they don’t make mistakes, they don’t get tired and they cost less. Computers are already displaying the product in search results and social media advertisements, sharing the benefits through brochures and videos and taking payments through online money transaction software.

No because there are still certain things a sales person does better than computers. Good sales people help customers articulate the requirement better so that they can give better solutions. Computers are learning this skill through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning but they yet have to reach human level. Secondly humans can generate a requirement for a product or a service which the customers never knew existed in them. People still crave human relationships and hence they would always prefer talking to a person than talk to a computer. Finally most of the software automation has a sales and marketing person behind the computer. So NO it’s too early to say that Sales people are not required in SaaS company.

SaaS companies are here to stay until the next disruptive technology like the Internet comes along. More and more government, professional and personal services will be added to the SaaS list of services.

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