Saturday, February 3, 2018

Before you talk about the solution, point out the problem

Lots of people who you think should be interested in your software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, couldn’t care less.

It doesn’t matter that they perfectly fit your “ideal customer” persona.

It doesn’t matter that your solution is full of features built especially for them.

It doesn’t even matter that you’re sure it’ll be a huge help to their business.

Despite all that, they’ll still ignore you.

They don’t care about your features, your user interface, your expert training and support, your attractive price, or anything else you’re just dying to show them.

At least they’re not interested yet.  

Identify the pain

Before prospective customers will pay any attention at all to your solution, they first need to recognize that they have a problem.  So first it’s your job to show them that problem. 

You need to make them see that the way they’re doing something right now is the wrong way.  The tool or process they’re using is hurting their organization. 

·       It’s costing money.
·       It’s losing customers.
·       It’s wasting time.
·       It’s risking penalties.
·       It’s losing them good candidates.
·       It’s costing market share.
·       It’s keeping them from control.
·       It’s blinding them to opportunities.

Show it's an urgent problem

In fact, you not only need to show them that there’s a problem.  You need to point out that it’s an urgent problem and it needs immediate attention. 

A reminder: most prospects for SaaS solutions have a lot of other things on their plates.  They are not assigned the full-time job of evaluating technology. They spend most of their time managing HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, or whatever function they’re responsible for. (See “Your prospect has a day job.”) 

In other words, they’re always looking at a long list of problems to be dealt with.  And only the two or three at the top of the list get any attention.  If the problem you solve is way down on that list, the prospect just doesn’t have the time.

When do we get to talk about our product?

I can hear you whining right now (I worked in tech marketing for a long time before I started this

If I need to spend so much time talking about the prospects’ urgent problems, when do I get to talk about my wonderful product?!

After all, when a prospective customer visits your website, watches your video, looks at your email, stops in your trade show booth, or picks up your phone call, all you’ve got is maybe a minute or two of their time.  How much of that can you give to hearing about the prospect’s problems?

My advice:  give most of that time to talking about problems– maybe all of it.  

Because until the prospect recognizes that they have an urgent problem – until they’re nodding their head thinking “this is something I need to fix ASAP” – they won’t be paying attention to anything you’re saying about your solution.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Demo? Not so fast

For lots of us software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketers, the first thing we want to do with a new prospect is show them a demo.

They visit our website: invite them to a demo

They walk into our trade show booth:  show them a demo

They download a white paper, open an email, attend a webinar, whatever:  schedule a demo.

My advice:  Stop doing that.

If we rush into a demo before the prospective customer is ready for one, a few bad things may happen:

  • We miss an opportunity to learn more about the prospect
  • We spend time preparing and delivering a demo that doesn’t fit what the prospect is looking for
  • We don’t move the prospect any closer to a purchase.

First listen

If the very first time we have to talk with a prospective customer we push them to sit through a demo, we often don’t give them a chance to talk.  It’s too much “show & tell” and not enough “ask & listen.”

We don’t have a chance to find out who they are, what problem they’re looking to fix, and why they got in touch with us.   

In fact, we sometimes skip right over the “Sales 101” questions and don’t find out about their budget, time-frame, and the people making the decision.  We may not know if this prospect is even worth spending time with.

Stop spraying & praying

Without knowing much about the prospect and the problem they’re trying to solve, it’s tough to do an effective demo.  (See "Most demos are useless.")

Instead of focusing on how our solution addresses the particular challenge they’re struggling with,  we’re just marching them features, features, and more features.

Eventually we might hit on the issue that they really care about, but maybe not.  And the prospect might be so “demo-dizzy” by the time we get there, they miss it.

Leave time to build trust

Launching right into a demo often short-circuits any chance to build credibility and trust.  The meeting is all about the product… not about our company, our expertise, or our understanding of the prospect’s industry and their challenges. 

We’re asking the prospect (and maybe a few of their colleagues) to give up a chunk of their time, and they hardly know us.

There’s not much opportunity to establish a relationship, something that’s essential to selling SaaS solutions.  The customer isn’t buying a box of software; they’re buying into a long-term relationship.  (See "SaaS Marketing is about Promises, Not Products.")

Don’t get me wrong: demos are usually an important part of marketing and selling the solution.  At some point, the prospective customer wants to see it in action. 

But don’t rush into the demo until both you and the customer are ready.