How to Structure Your SaaS Sales Funnel

Marketing your products can be one of the toughest tasks for a SaaS startup. Not only do you have to compete with massive competitors who have budgets that make yours look like pocket change, but you also have an audience that is inundated with sales pitches and marketing messages. Often times they’re not receptive to traditional methods of marketing because of all the noise. In addition to that, you have to consider the relationship between your marketing and sales teams.

As a SaaS company, you have to attract and convert your customers using digital channels that both inform your customer and support your sales team. Creating a SaaS funnel is a delicate art; you’ve got to attract potential customers, nurture them through each step of the funnel, and make sure the entire process is as efficient as possible. Whether you’re structuring your sales funnel from scratch or improving upon what you have, it’s important to understand why your funnel structure is so important, identify what types of lead follow-ups are actually effective, and use best practices for the structure of your funnel.

Understand why structuring SaaS funnel is important

Do you find yourself paying more attention to leads and closing tactics, rather than focusing on the steps required to get customers from one end of the funnel to the other? If so, it’s time to rethink your priorities. Datanyze writer Richard Bayston states that what you need “is an approach that looks right along the funnel, rather than obsessing over numbers at any one stage in isolation. Rather than tuning up one stage, you need to tune up the whole funnel.”

Let’s visualize this with some simple, real-world examples. Autogrow.co compiled a list of the 17 best sales funnels for website conversion, featuring the free-to-download Mint app and the subscription-based Netflix. Despite their different services and business models, both companies pay attention to each step of the user experience. Every component works together to define the brand, give the user confidence, and make the sign-up process quick and easy. You must identify the benefits that are important to your customers and optimize their journey throughout the sales funnel.

Define lead qualifications

The sooner you define what constitutes a lead, the sooner you can spend time with the right customers.

Lead qualifications will differ based on industry, customers, service, etc., but here are a few general principles that can put you on the right track:

If your customers can answer specific questions—such as, what their goals are—they are more likely to be serious about investing in your service.

  • Financial understanding

Good leads have a realistic idea of where they can put their money. If they’re just browsing around, they might not be serious about finding a solution.

  • Quality conversation

A solid lead wants to discuss options and benefits. They will ask questions and provide information in order to help you understand their needs.

Talk with your sales team to identify the best methods for identifying strong leads within your industry.

Set standards for follow-up

When it’s time to act on leads, do as VC investor David Skok says and “use science, not gut.” Identify which lead generators work best for your company, then rank your leads based on these standards. This gives your sales team a data-driven approach that, when followed, helps them filter out unprofitable leads. These standards could include the following:

  • Origin (e.g., an email campaign, an Internet search, a referral, etc.)
  • Demographics
  • Behavior in the funnel
  • Questions asked by leads

Develop effective SaaS sales funnel structures

Knowing the importance of structuring your entire SaaS sales funnel and feeling confident in your strong leads will help you make strategic improvements to your sales funnel.

Work with the marketing and sales teams to make sure both groups are on board in regards to what messaging is most effective. As with the examples of Mint and Netflix listed above, if you’re looking for a direct approach to showing customers how they can subscribe to the product, the marketing team must ensure that all web design is clean and straightforward.

You might consider investigating how to make your demos more effective. One company evaluated what kind of messaging made potential leads choose to watch a demo video. Their initial offer was to “Schedule a Demo Today!”. When they changed the option to read “FREE 5-Minute Demo Video,” the conversion rate increased 900 percent. A little trial and error can go a long way.

There are many correct ways to create a SaaS funnel; it’s a matter of paying attention to what your successful leads want and need. Take the time to fully optimize each part of your sales funnel. This will pay dividends for your business down the road.

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