How to Increase Saas software sales? Focus on your online top of funnel

funnelHow are you handling your top of funnel? I hope you don’t rely on your sales team to manage this. Your team is likely trained at the middle of the funnel. They’re good at nurturing known leads and mastering product specs to convert these prospects into buyers. Steve Richard of the sales effectiveness firm, VorsightBP, said that most sales teams are sophisticated at the bottom of the funnel, but when it comes to the top of the funnel, “There is a massive void.” This is unfortunate considering that prospects are discovering you at the top of the funnel, not in the middle or bottom. But then again, the top of funnel should be handled by you, the big boss.When industry experts say that B2B marketing today looks more like B2C, they’re referring to events that are disrupting the top of funnel; in short, how B2B buyers–senior executives, middle and junior managers are discovering products. Where before you introduced the product with a cold call or unsolicited email to prospects, today, they research your product even before your sales rep knows them.

Let’s hear it from an Acquity Group study: “94 percent of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.”

In fact, the Google-sponsored CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council is more direct to the point: “57% of the purchase process has been completed before prospects contact you.”

So, one effective and fast solution to how increase SaaS sales is to solidify your online top of funnel so that it generates more leads, and that means more conversions.

How to create more leads from these 4 top-of-funnel channels

1. Website visitors: Project rock-solid credibility

Even if your website doesn’t have a high Page Rank, it can generate more organic leads than you’d expect especially on the far end of the top of funnel. That means a prospect sees you some place and is led to your product website. Once she’s in there, your goal is to move her into the middle of funnel by making her to trust you so she gives her customer data.

Successful B2B marketers know that to convince a prospect they need to project solid-rock credibility in their product site by using at least five of these techniques that provide effective solutions to the question how to increase SaaS sales:

Displaying trust seals – An Econsultancy study shows that trust marks are the top factor that makes people to trust a website, even surpassing “referral by family and friends.”  Use a combination of seals for technical security like Norton, general business credibility like BBB, and a specialist seal that focuses on B2B software like the Verified Quality Seal by FinancesOnline.

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Testimonials and social sharing – they give your product social proof that other customers find it useful and trust you, so a prospect might, too.

Contact details – not only does it tell prospects how to contact you, but that you can be reached in case there’s an issue or dispute. That’s outright transparency.

Case studies – although it’s vendor-generated and, therefore, bias, it gives a prospect a formal structure to assess your product’s pros and cons based on other companies’ experience.

Product rating – A CompUSA/iPerceptions study revealed that 63% of buyers are more likely to purchase from a website that has product ratings and reviews. A user-generated rating signals to prospects that you’re confident about the product and transparent about its strengths and weaknesses.

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2. Campaign opt-in subscribers: Focus on industry topics rather than your product

Your goal in lead-generation campaigns is not to make a sale, but to solicit customer data, valuable information that you can later use to tailor middle-of-funnel campaigns. In a Content Marketing Institute article, Mike Nierengarten, President of Obility (a B2B demand generation company), said that industry-analyst reports, buyer’s guides, and strategy guides are likely to get more leads than product-centric content, such as, product features, case studies, and on-demand webinars.

A compelling offer aside, you also need to create a winnable landing page, which should have these important elements:

  • a magnetic headline
  • brief description of your awesome offer
  • an engaging image
  • social proofs like testimonial quotes and social sharing
  • simple form that captures basic customer data
  • clear call-to-action

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3. Social media fans (and haters): Mine them for leads

There are plenty of powerful apps today that help you to monitor social comments, posts, shares, tweets, likes, etc. about your product. Most of these platforms feature a dashboard that lets you to quickly see positive, negative, and neutral posts about you. All three can give you more leads. Here’s how:

Amplify positive shoutouts – it’s the best testimonial you can get, a word-of-mouth advertising for your product. You can also Storify these positive social media comments or screengrab and post them on your website, landing page, or social media channels so other prospects can see them.

Addressing a brewing issue before it spills over – engage negative comments with sincerity like you’re addressing a live customer complaint. There are two reasons why you should pay attention to genuine issues. First, you can guide customers on how to fairly assess your product. A customer may be complaining for the wrong reason like expecting more non-core functions in a specialist app like time-tracking. Second, you can use these issues to showcase to other prospects how you take customer complaints seriously. In the SaaS business, your awesome customer service can be the winning factor.

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Answer a prospect’s question and lead her to the sales funnel – it’s striking the iron while it’s hot. A prospect who’s asking about your product is really asking to be led down to your sales funnel. But don’t hard sell her at once; instead, gently guide her to the funnel by addressing her specific question.

You can also collate your social mentions’ user data to get a clearer picture of your actual customers or prospects.

social_comment4. External review sites: Leverage their tools to outmaneuver the competition

According to Kissmetrics article, more than 70% of Americans look at product reviews before buying. B2B buyers are comparing your product against the competition even without you knowing it. They do it in external review sites, independent information resource platforms that assess your product in two ways: an editorial review by their in-house experts and user-generated ratings by your customers.

So why are review sites popular?

  • they rank high in search because they have consistent new content and high user engagement
  • it’s easy to find products in one location
  • it’s easy to compare products feature by feature and pricing terms

If you’re a SaaS company most likely your product has already been assessed in a B2B software review site like FinancesOnline.com. However, a savvy marketer knows that it’s not enough to be just a stick in a bundle of sticks; your product has to stand out to get leads. To do that, you need to take a closer look at the marketing tools available in a review site. For example, FinancesOnline.com has lead generation services, such as: Product Page Buttons, which directly link the review site to your homepage or fulfillment page; Product Box Examples, which suggest your software as an alternative product to your competition; and Comparison Page Highlight, which highlights your product column in a product comparison table. Another useful service is a detailed review of your product by an in-house expert team. Review sites often use a standard format to compare all products. A detailed review is like a paid listing that gives readers more information about your product; in short, it stands out from the standard format. The key is to look for other tools or services being offered by the review site that will give you even a small advantage over the others.

CONCLUSION

Reinforcing your online top of funnel is like increasing your contact rate. In the traditional B2B marketing sense, you know that the more people you contact the more chances you get more deals. Only that in today’s B2B landscape it’s prospects that are contacting you, maybe not directly, but through your digital presence. Is your online top of funnel ready for them?

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