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Evolving Customer Behaviour in SaaS Sales

SaaS has been around for long enough to study the change and impact it has brought upon the buying behaviour of the customers. Although there have been a lot of discussions on the sales side of SaaS, it has also brought about an evolution inB2B buying behaviour of sales technologies. The pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of new methodologies. By nature, evolution demands aligning to change for survival, hence this evolution in the buying behaviour also needs to be accommodated in the sales strategy of young SaaS companies for better business outcomes, while keeping the NPS/CSAT on the higher extremes.

The key drivers of the shift in buying behaviour are, the pervasiveness of information that provides the flexibility of consumption, liberal expression of experience from users, the change in buyer persona, user’s knowledge of choices, reduced risk in decisions with exit flexibility and making more informed decisions with access to open groups. Factoring on the impact of these drivers on sales engagement can help SaaS companies to align their customer sales journey more effectively with enhanced output and resource (cost) optimization. Captured below are some generic illustrations of the shift in consumer behaviour :

  1. Customer education has moved from sales interaction to product websites, user reviews, community forums, analyst reports etc. with the involvement of sales representatives being applicable only for high tech (high complexity) purchases.
  2. In lower complexity transactions the vendor representative engagement has seen a steep drop to below 20%, with more incremental time being spent with users and offline connection for understanding real-time experiences while making a consideration set.
  3. ICP (ideal customer profile) needs to go beyond demographics and bring in some personality factors like age and information consumption channels to effectively utilize the communication and targeted messaging. Research confirms that more neutral channels have taken a lead over sales representatives dependent on physical interaction.
  4. Customers consume information from various sources and then revalidate the same with neutral user groups nullifying the bias or reducing the risk involved in the purchase. The qualitative (high content) responses with details weigh more against ratings.
  5. The quality of information, its availability and ease of access can have a considerable impact on decision time and process. (Remember the coherence between sales and marketing)
  6. The buying process is not linear anymore with multiple interactions taking place simultaneously. Each of these interactions can increase the probability of a positive outcome if the vendor representative can share the information that advances customer decision-making.
  7. Marketing collaterals and analyst ratings have had a reduced effect on the buying decisions as per some research outcomes, with strong negative customer responses for cold emailing and aggressive pitches

 

According to various B2B sales consulting companies, given the product position on the quadrant of value and complexity, these illustrations of the shift in consumer behaviour are strong indicators of the changes required in aligning the sales approach to methods beyond traditional and continuously evolving sales strategy to achieve a mature model before it can be scaled up. Traditionally sales have been driven with the objective of increasing reach and higher customer face time, leading to high CAC. SaaS companies need to adopt the latest sales technology tools along with a more meticulous and sharp approach towards sales and marketing. Their approach must revolve around the evolving customer behaviour to optimize the CAC and reduce customer churn.

Aggregation of few types of research suggests that the rate of adoption to accommodate the change in this buying behaviour in young SaaS companies is very slow and ad hoc with no clear vision on the final process, defining the type of engagement and channels of communication as key factors. 

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