Having founded a SaaS and Enterprise software product start up, I have had a chance to observe and study the sales cycles of quite a few Silicon Valley products in the similar space. Sales 2.0 is a trend which started around 3-4 years old and is rampant in those startups but it yet to catch up with majority of the Indian ones.
Please note that I am not a Sales 2.0 ‘expert’, though I have experienced scenarios, tried and tested a few things and learnt a few things from those experiences.
Traditional Sales 1.0 Process:
A lead is generated who either fills your contact us form on the website or you make cold calls and send outbound mails. The next step you do is try and set up a call or a meeting and then you go “Hi, am Divyesh here from DRONA and we provide a mobile based employee engagement platform which has XYZ features etc” and then you give them a demo of the same, pass on white papers and case studies, ask relevant questions and share the pricing.
In doing so you would require an exhaustive sales team which for a start-up is not feasible with their shoestring budgets. Secondly, in normal sales cycle the conversion rates are around 3% and if a lead drops off in between, you end up spending a lot of time and energy and hence money on them, this has forced a paradigm shift to Sales 2.0.
In a typical Sales 2.0 process before you or your sales guy actually gets talking to a prospect you have already crossed 2-3 steps of a traditional sales 1.0 process. The idea is to nurture the leads, analyze them, qualify them if they are an opportunity and only then get talking to them. As Entrepreneurs, you would need to understand the following things for it:
Customers love being anonymous: Your prospects who come to your website, want to know your product, its features, case studies if any, your customers, testimonials, get their hands dirty on a demo, check your pricing, compare it with any competitors of yours etc. They absolutely hate typical sales guys calling them up for a meeting or a demo or anything else even if you are not being pushy. So get your act together and put all these things on your website.
Reveal your pricing: A lot of your leads will drop off after knowing your pricing (they may not afford it or may not have budgets presently) and hence revealing it in the end is not a good idea for a SaaS product as you would have ended up spending a lot of time with the prospect by then. The last thing you want to do is surprise your prospect with your pricing.
Nurture your leads: Not all the people who check your product or take your demo will convert into a customer immediately. Depending on if they have taken your demo or seen the case studies or downloaded a white paper you would need to put a score to them and send them emails accordingly till you know they are qualified enough for you to get talking to them. (Send them stuff which will help them do better at their job which is also relevant to your product) You would find a lot of Web 2.0 and social tools which will help you do it; I will cover the same in one of the coming articles.
Research your prospect: Ideally you should spend about 15-20 minutes researching about the prospect and his company you are going to talk to. Since he has already gone through your nurturing process, he would ideally have a lot of questions for you pertaining to your product applicable for his business, and you have an excellent chance to be a consultant to him if you know him and his business in and out.
The article can be even longer and Sales 2.0 is an ever evolving process until it suits your business and product. It needs to be inculcated more as a practice rather than a process, and the pointers will act as good food for thought to model your Sales 2.0 process around it.
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