Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the biggest trends to hit the producers of IT solutions in a long time. Gone are the days when customers walked into a store and picked up the latest version of their favourite software package on a CD or DVD ROM – or even downloaded it wholesale from the internet.
Today, an absolute ton of software is available instantly, directly from the cloud. Most of these solutions require absolutely no downloading of software, instead being accessible 100% in-browser. All users need do is fill out a registration form and gain access to a free trial or stripped-down test version of the software.
If or when the user decides they want access to the features available in the premium version – or the trial expires and they wish to continue using it – they can sign up for a paid package. In this case, they don’t pay a one-off fee to “own” the software as they would have done in the past, but instead pay a monthly subscription cost to access the content for as long as they need to.
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Accessing software in this way offers advantages to both the customer and the provider. The customer doesn’t need to lay out the full price of the software – which can often be in the hundreds of pounds – to use it. This means they can usually cancel their subscription at any point and have only paid for the time they used the software. For the provider, SaaS can be an easier sell than a buy up front piece of software, as the initial outlay is much smaller.
However, despite the somewhat easier sell, SaaS still needs to be marketed in the right way, and there’s still plenty of room for error.
#1 The Trial
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It may seem that the offer of a free trial should be a simple thing to sell – and it is. However, with the intention being to convert those free trial users into paying subscribers, there are some steps you can take to maximise the chances of them taking up your offer.
While 30 days of free usage is certainly a tempting offer for the user, a lengthy trial can present difficulties when trying to convert them into paying customers. A long trial gives users more time to lose interest and drift away. Chances are the user accessed the free trial to solve an issue they were having at the time. Therefore, the best time to grab them is while they’re still reeling from just how effectively your software handled their problem.
Around 14 days seems to be a sweet spot for most organisations – but experiment with different trial durations to see which yields the best results for your business.
The amount of access you provide with your free trial is also something to consider. Our advice would be to grant full access during the trial period to increase the chances of the user taking up the highest tier offered when it comes to subscribing. If they’ve got used to using the top tier of the software, they aren’t likely to want to lose any features if they decide to subscribe.
People hate losing things more than they love gaining them.
#2 The Contact
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Staying in touch with prospective subscribers is key to turning them into customers – and this means having a robust email marketing strategy. Think of the trial as the advert for the product – the top of the funnel asset which brings people to your company and gets them interested. Many companies use a gated piece of content such as an eBook or white paper to convince prospects to hand over contact details – you have your trial.
Once they’re signed up and you have their contact details, the next step is to start guiding them down the sales funnel until they’re ready to subscribe. How to generate and maintain leads in this way is a huge topic in its own right, but there are a few general points to adhere to.
Don’t be afraid to get in touch as soon as possible. Once a prospect has had a couple of days with the software, send them an email to introduce yourself and see how things are going. The idea is to start and maintain a conversation, so make sure your questions are open ended, and avoid ones which have straight yes/no one-word answers.
Don’t barrage them with sales talk, but just keep chatting and assist them with the software in anyway you can. This is where it helps to have demo videos on your website. This way, if a prospect is struggling with any features of the software, you can link them back to your website. Not only will it provide a visual tutorial, but will serve to gently remind them where the software came from.
And, if they provided a phone number when they signed up for the trial, don’t be afraid to use it. Email may be convenient, but letting the prospect hear a human voice will do wonders for your credibility.
#3 The Pitch
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Now comes the time to go in for the kill and attempt to convince the user your software is the product they’ve been looking for to take their business to the next level.
Do not offer discounts. Discounts are a lazy sales technique for people who don’t have confidence in their product. Instead of using discounts to sell your software, use the value it will add to your customers’ businesses to convince them. Whether this value manifests as saved man-hours, fewer mistakes, more efficiency, or something else, your job as a salesperson is to convince the prospect of the benefits your software will provide, and that it is worth every penny.
If your software is good, the trial should have done most of this job for you.
Don’t be pushy, and give the customer a cooling off period if they need to think about it. Have confidence in your product, and your prospects will have confidence in you.
#4 Don’t give up
If you’re struggling with any of the above – whether it be finding the time to manage contacts effectively, or need help judging when the prospect is ready for the sales pitch – markITwrite can help. We offer a range of lead generation services which can help guide your prospects from first contact right through to the sales pitch.
Please get in touch today.