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The COVID pandemic rang the bell of change for humanity. We rushed for a break from normalcy with the curiosity of schoolchildren. A bit of adrenaline in the blood, but mostly a relief – many liked the idea and freshness of the WFH rhythm.
For salespeople, things began looking worrisome pretty quickly. Specifically, for those trading SaaS solutions to small business. Our sales and marketing team walks this path every day, so we thought we’d share our insights on how to sell software to small and medium businesses in the post-coronavirus era.
If you are only beginning your route in the SaaS development and sales realm, you might find this popular piece useful: How to sell software as a service: 15 insider tips for SaaS startup sales.
The below collection of empirically derived wisdom is for seasoned sales and newbies alike, as we have heaps to share, being the SaaS development company ourselves.
Moreover, Nimble has been recognized by major independent software review sites, like G2Crowd, GetApp, and Capterra as the Small Business Category Leader among a highly competitive line of CRM solutions. So we know exactly how it feels to sell to SMB.
According to a survey by McKinsey done as early in the pandemic as April 2020, 90% of B2B sales have transitioned to the virtual model of selling. With 37% of all surveyed responding they have transitioned all field sales to working via videoconferencing/phone and 39% confirming partial transfer to remote model.
But the concern remains about the effectiveness of the WFH mode of sales. Almost half of the respondents, namely a massive 46% found newly adopted sales modes were less effective, while an equal 27% was allotted to the other 2 answers: “about the same” and “more effective”.
In this new reality, let’s see some of the practical techniques on how to sell software to small businesses:
Crises or Opportunity? Considering Internal and External Factors in 2021
The bigger picture: Industry standing: shaken or boosted?
The first thing to analyze is the shift in need (demand) for your software under changed conditions of lockdown and quarantine.
It may have become more valuable to your customers or less valuable due to the pandemic.
The brightest example is Zoom video conferencing software, but there are several niches, services, products, that have been prompted to the peak or lowest valley of their demand trajectory by the virus. Amazon is getting bigger by the hour, while the tourism industry is shattered to the core.
When you analyze the outward circumstances, you can move on to looking at the inner aspects.
Answering a few questions will help shed some light on the status quo:
- Is your niche among the winners or losers of the pandemic conundrum? Why? Will reframing prevent the downward curve?
- Have any of your rivals closed down yet? (this is both a sign of general industry trends and the beak of opportunity in the market with less competition).
- How are global leaders in your industry reframing their business and sales processes? You may want to google press releases or check out recent social media posts to see the best practices on how big boys handle crises in your niche.
- How are the local/domestic businesses taking it? What’s the situation in your country/state like with similar businesses?
Say the software you are developing is for agriculture, eCommerce, or the travel industry – check out the trends in this very niche first – locally and globally – to understand your starting point.
If the industry you are catering to is among the winners of the crises, you’ll need to take measures to squeeze the most of this opportunity.
If your niche is among the losers of the pandemic, you will have to reframe your business from within.
Do a SWOT analysis of yourself vs major competitors
You have one, we know. The pro as you are would have this basic formal sheet in the marketing plan, we get it.
But COVID is not there, right?
In times of unprecedented circumstance and force majeure, the WIP status of all of the marketing fundamental documentation should be reinforced from the bottom down.
Get your sales and marketing team and review SWOT, sales scripts, systems you use, hierarchy, structure, plan, goals, annual incentives.
This is NOT business as usual.
Your SWOT should NOT be as usual either.
Not only is it a good exercise to let your revenue executive team cool down emotions and look at the situation from a pure ice-cold reasoning standpoint, but it’s also an opportunity to reset the mentality of the team in one session.
Brainstorm until you have a clear picture of where your company is in terms of pricing, positioning, terms and conditions, free trial, features, customer support, free features in the Freemium offer, down to the details like the relevance of the text on your home page.
Once you know your weaknesses and strengths, once you realize the levers your competitors are likely to pull to steal more of the dwindling demand, you are ready to draft a proactive plan.
Neil Patel shares how he opted to give away more of the Ubersuggest premium features for free and saw an increase in traffic and paid subscriptions. This link will also go towards the boost in the ranking of the top-ranking resource. Because he managed to regroup and side with his clients in the times of trial.
Plan to regroup and reframe
Once you know which side of the event you ended up and how you stand against your competitors in this battle, it’s time to plan your survival/ascendance to the leader’s league.
Deal with your costs. You’ll have to cut down somewhere anyway – revisit every expense center to see what can be trimmed. Trim it sooner rather than later. Every little bit helps. This is not a drill; COVID will take years to subside.
Review Your sales & marketing strategy & tactics. Now, that you have dealt with the costs, it’s time to look at the revenues.
A good look at the structure, tools, techniques, market, clients will help build the structure that will survive the crises. Let’s have a closer look at some techniques in detail.
Have a new set of docs going for your team. They need a revamped guidance with new incentives, steps, priorities, an arsenal of tools. Never let those new docs go old or outdated, make them part of your weekly review and keep editing them as the expertise of dealing with pandemic accumulates.
How to sell SaaS to small business to outlive & outperform the competition
Get quotes from competitors
Yes, homework is half the success.
Ensure your sales enablement team gets their hands on the competitors’ quotes and pricing and promos regularly.
In the best-case scenario, you will monitor a few adjacent niches too to see the trends. For example, with the mass adoption of cloud technology, many products went down in price significantly, as the maintenance and upfront investment became unnecessary.
To best enforce this practice with your revenue-making team, create a task in your Customer Relationship Management system that is recurring and reminds your sales enablement to get quotes regularly and your strategic sales team to review them as often.
Not only is it one of the most working tools to remain competitive in the fast-changing market, but it’s also time to brainstorm for new trend-setting promo ideas.
Technology evolves by the day. Breakthroughs and new products appear by the minute.
Ensure your tech stack is up to date at all times.
CRM and accounting software might be at the core of technical requirements for a small business. Check out the top 20 rankings on Capterra now and then to find the solutions right for you.
Nimble has been in the top 5 of Capterra’s list of the best CRM solutions for years and garnered recognition as the leader for SMB with G2Crowd and GetApp.
Invest in Google ads & social media promo campaigns
If you think it’s no time to promote, thin again. Too many people thought that and no competition in Google ads auctions is not so strong in many niches.
Secondly, there are so many more buyers online during lockdowns and quarantines.
Invest in YouTube content
YouTube is a Google company and videos are part of the Google search algorithm. The best thing is that local awareness gives you a boost from the start. People know each other in smaller communities and getting the initial traction for the video is so much easier for a small business whose clients are all connected on Facebook.
You don’t have an excuse not to do YouTube: any smartphone will do the job just right, you don’t need expensive equipment. Just consistency and your professional insights.
Consider cutting cost earlier rather than later
Cutting cost is a measure that comes to mind sooner or later during times of crisis. If you have low visibility in the future, make sure to discharge of ballast earlier, so your path is not overburdened.
Be generous with cash incentives
There are no better stimuli than a stack of crispy notes in one’s hand right now.
If you want your sales team on the alert all the time, make sure there is some kind of a cash bonus going on in your company, highly visible from every corner of the office.
Annual and quarterly bonuses are great too, but an immediate bonus has its extra charm and keeps your sales and marketing team on their toes.
Provide a personalized approach
When it comes to the millennial mentality, it’s all about humanizing the brand. When dealing with the SMB, family-like relations are of utmost importance.
This is when a Customer Relationship Management tool is indispensable.
Nimble, for example, is a social CRM with extensive integration with major social media platforms. Users can comment, share, like posts by their contacts from inside the tool.
Client tagging and segmentation is another useful feature, that can help personalize email marketing, for example. If you need to send out a mass email to a specific segment of your contacts, you can do so with up to 100 emails a day – they will look like a personal message when sent from Nimble.
Nimble: a recognized leader of the category CRM for SMB
Nimble is intuitive, cheap, has easy integrations, and multiple marketing features.
This golden combo of advantages has ensured Nimble CRM is on top of the rankings when it comes to the best Customer relationship management for small businesses.
We would love to help you make your business bigger though, please enjoy 2 weeks of access to full features for free. Start growing your small business with Nimble!