With the proliferation of Cloud technologies, the buying processes for many organisations have been massively transformed, especially how they select, buy and implement software. Rather than selling almost exclusively to IT buyers, SaaS vendors are now more likely to sell directly to functional or business-unit stakeholders – as usually multiple people are involved in the purchasing decision.

The emphasis is on a SaaS solution’s value to the business – not on the underlying technology.

As a result, the nature of the sales dialogue between SaaS vendors and customers looks and sounds very different to what it did in the days of legacy, on-premise applications.

SaaS sales people must have a deep understanding of the user industry and be able to approach every opportunity with a consultative approach. They must clearly communicate the benefits and features of their software and tailor it to the customer, which starts with a very thorough understanding of the prospect’s situation and industry. Service and attention are key to getting the prospect to close, because SaaS representatives are usually selling at a higher price.

Because SaaS can be so complex, it’s common to involve engineers, executives, or product marketers into the selling process to make a difficult sale. Knowing when to ask for help and how to communicate effectively across departments in addition to being able to identify and manage the political landscape at the client side is also crucial to make a sale.

SaaS companies rely on customer retention, therefore a thorough and strategic KAM practice is essential for long term success. However KAM is not a sales role, rather an investment in profitable customer relationships at as many touch points as possible to retain and engage the right accounts. It is like playing poker with a set of chips – there are only so many chips available that must be distributed among the accounts that yield the most benefits.

Last but not least, the proliferation of social media, particularly LinkedIn, requires sales people to be increasingly integrated with marketing and build their own personal brand. Sales is built upon trust, and it takes at least 10 interactions with the SaaS vendor brand in various shapes and/or forms before a prospect is ready for demo.

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