The SaaS industry is booming in the modern digital age, and companies capitalizing on this industry can experience novel obstacles and nuances. Whether a startup still working on getting its feet off the ground or a mature tech company with a long list of customers, there are different B2B sales models a company can take advantage of.
B2B SaaS sales models
B2B software sales can be more challenging than traditional sales as reps must deeply understand their digital product and how it can be used as solutions for different buyers. Because the product is not physical, the sales rep must be even more diligent when pitching their product. B2B SaaS sales can be broken down into three main models: self-service, transactional, and enterprise.
The self-service model
This model is typically used for cheaper products and has a fully automated process that the customer navigates through without the assistance or intervention from a sales rep. Companies will often employ this model when prioritizing the development and quality of their product rather than their salesforce. A positive and streamlined customer experience is critical in the self-service model because each customer navigates through the buyer's journey without assistance.
The transactional model
The transactional sales model is a mix of the self-service and enterprise models, as companies utilizing this model often offer customer onboarding opportunities in addition to a streamlined and automated online process. This model is suitable for higher-priced products and larger budgets dedicated to customer acquisition. With this increase in funding, companies can dedicate teams to assist in the customer journey when buyers are ready to purchase. While customers can still navigate a self-service platform, they must interact with a sales representative to complete the buy.
The enterprise model
Companies that employ the enterprise model must be well-equipped to do so, as this model requires an excellent customer journey, high-quality product and website, and an exceptionally skilled sales team.
B2B enterprise sales are usually a long and fragile process, as more stakeholders with differing opinions are involved.
SaaS companies that successfully employ this model can typically ask for a higher price tag for their product, making it a highly lucrative– yet risky and expensive– endeavor.
How B2B SaaS sales is different for enterprise vs. SMB
Although they share the goal of solving a problem with their product, a B2B sale is significantly different between an enterprise and an SMB model.
In a large enterprise deal, far more individuals are involved in the buying process. Rather than focusing on one customer, businesses must orientate their product and messaging to appease the various opinions and preferences of the involved key stakeholders. This can present unique challenges, as an approach that works for one may not work for the other. Because of this, navigating the room will be critical to ensure your pitch resonates with all decision-makers. Understanding the personalities of the involved stakeholders can help enable sales reps to adapt their approach accordingly for each individual.
Longer sales cycle
Because there are many more opinions at play, the enterprise model has a much longer (and more delicate) sales cycle. It can take time to convince all the key stakeholders that your product provides the best solution for their problems. For example, the involved stakeholders can belong to different departments and have different interests (i.e. a software deal can have stakeholders in business departments like Sales and Marketing but can also involve the IT/technology department, legal department, procurement, and more).
Long term, however, the increased number of stakeholders works in the sales rep’s favor– with more people buying in, there is a lesser risk of churn. Additionally, larger enterprise companies require more paperwork and various other hoops to jump through. Taking all into consideration, an enterprise sales cycle can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. And knowing what not to say throughout the longer sales cycle can be just as important as knowing what to say throughout a longer sales cycle to ensure that everything continues running smoothly and momentum is not lost.
Larger purchase value
Because the enterprise model is reserved for higher-priced products or services, sales organizations often close multiple-year contracts with customers and experience higher revenue gains. These deals can provide exceptional benefits when appropriately closed. The higher purchase value raises the stakes, which makes building trust even more essential; by prioritizing trust, sales reps can facilitate long-term, loyal customers.
What stages should sales teams expect in a longer enterprise software sale
An enterprise software sale requires far more personalization and intention. Sales teams should expect to refine and tailor their approach more than they would in a traditional small or medium business sale, as the stakes are higher and more individuals are involved in the buy.
Prospecting / Outreach
During the initial outreach, sales teams must be proactive with their approach. By understanding each prospect before that initial call, sellers can more effectively deliver their value quickly and in a way that resonates. Additionally, being knowledgeable about the product and providing plenty of valuable information can aid in grasping the attention of larger businesses. In this stage, it is crucial to make a great first impression to get the deal started on the right foot.
Discovery / Demo Call
During a discovery call, sales teams ask questions to better understand the prospect’s pain points and needs and determine whether they are a good fit for the product. These questions address company goals, budgets and timelines, previous product usage, and more. Discovery can be lengthy. However, understanding the motivations and preferences of buyers can optimize the chances of winning them as a customer as it helps ensure your pitch resonates with the buyer. While one buyer may be motivated by a competitive edge, another may be more concerned with the reliability and stability of the product. By adjusting how the solution is pitched to appeal to those differing motivations, sales teams can more effectively pitch their product to address buyers’ needs.
RFP (request for proposal)
For larger organizations that are more structured, companies issue out an RFP, or request for proposal, which is a document sent to different vendors requesting the submission of bids and proposals to the organization. The RFP also defines the project's goals and includes an extensive list of questions to aid in the bidding process and help the organization determine which vendors are available and most qualified for their needs. Because an enterprise sales model is far more complex than its smaller-medium-sized business counterparts, a strong RFP response process is critical. However, some may bypass this step to expedite the process.
Being on the Shortlist
The buyer journey starts long before that initial demo– often, buyers have made up their minds before the initial pitch. To be on an enterprise company’s shortlist, sales teams must be proactive when creating content and resources. By producing curated content, testimonials, and other resources, they can begin to convince a prospect of their value before ever even interacting with them. Once on the shortlist, sales teams must maintain momentum by prioritizing building relationships and trust with the buyers.
Meeting with Stakeholders
Because more key stakeholders are involved in the buying process for enterprise sales, meetings can be more challenging to facilitate. Pitching a product with differing personalities, perspectives, and preferences can be difficult. When meeting with multiple stakeholders, sales teams must be able to tailor their approach to resonate with the collective group. Being mindful of personalities can help sellers adapt their strategy and messaging.
Working with Procurement
Working with procurement can present obstacles, as they are the gatekeepers of purchasing decisions for businesses. Usually, their goals are different from other stakeholders, making negotiations difficult and tense. Awareness of procurement’s goals, processes, and concerns can facilitate a more positive relationship. Taking it a step further by understanding how to best communicate with procurement, and prioritizing transparency, can greatly impact a sales team’s ability to close the deal.
Working with Legal
As with any sale, various legal regulations and requirements must be met. In an enterprise software sale, there are often even more laws to comply with. Enterprise businesses can sometimes be global, which introduces a whole other bracket of legal ramifications to be cautious of. To ensure that this stage runs smoothly, sales teams must take time to understand all requirements thoroughly and do their due diligence to meet them. These include, but are not limited to, taxes, inventory, trademarks/patents, data security, payment, and much more. Being aware of and knowledgeable about the different general, local, and international laws is crucial here.
Closing the deal with the Decision-maker
Closing the deal is far more complex than finalizing a signed contract, and it is not the end of the customer journey. Sales teams must continue to be heavily involved following the close and present as customers undergo onboarding and implementation. Because of the amount of money invested into these deals, sales teams must be available to assist wherever needed as companies begin to employ their technology. By consistently supporting enterprise customers, sellers are constantly delivering value and ensuring that the adoption of their product is successful.
Why an Adaptive Selling Platform is perfect for enterprise software sales
Adaptive selling is a concept of adapting the way sales teams interact with a lead based on their unique personality and behavioral characteristics. Understanding a stakeholder’s personality is a powerful skill, and knowing how to communicate with their unique personality type across the buyer journey will maximize the chance of closing a deal.
In B2B SaaS sales, an adaptive selling strategy can significantly aid in effectively selling to enterprise companies especially when there are multiple stakeholders. While these adjustments can be made based on the seller’s perception of the buyer, utilizing an Adaptive Selling Platform like Crystal can more accurately identify these characteristics and streamline the process, especially if you’ve never connected with your buyers. Here are some of the ways an Adaptive Selling Platform is perfect for enterprise software sales:
More effective communication
An adaptive selling platform identifies the personalities of prospects and provides actionable insights and advice on how to best communicate with them. Utilizing these insights, sales teams can quickly understand how to effectively tailor their approach and communication based on buyers' preferences, motivations, and behaviors.
Easier rep adoption
While it can be challenging to introduce a new selling strategy, taking advantage of an adaptive selling platform enables reps to put techniques into practice to become more effective sellers. An adaptive selling platform is a great resource and tool to ensure that sales teams understand the sales strategy and can confidently implement it into their sales efforts.
Ability to scale sales effectiveness
An adaptive sales platform keeps all sales team members on the same page. An adaptive selling platform can provide valuable insights and ongoing communication training to ensure the buying experience is consistent and of quality. It can also streamline the enterprise sales process by delivering quick, actionable sales coaching advice to ensure every lead or prospect is cultivated in the right way.
B2B software sales differ from regular sales, as the products and offerings are digital rather than tangible. Because of this, the sales process can often present unique challenges and requires specially skilled reps with the knowledge and ability to deliver their product’s value.
Sales organizations utilizing a SaaS enterprise model should take extra care to support their customers through each stage of the sales process. With the involvement of multiple key stakeholders, a longer sales cycle, and a higher price tag, successful sales teams should consider a hyper-personalized approach. Personalization in enterprise sales is essential, and employing adaptive selling practices here can aid in a more seamless, accurate, and customized approach. Taking advantage of an adaptive selling platform, like Crystal, is key to ensuring adaptive selling practices are implemented, practiced, and reinforced consistently across each sale.
Learn how Crystal’s Adaptive Selling Platform can support your enterprise sales model.