How do you actually get paying SaaS customers? (Reddit Question)

When I found this question on Reddit recently, I had to answer it.

When we talk about content marketing, growth marketing, and more, all of these techniques come back to this question. While I’m tempted to say, “it depends on your situation,” I’m not going to leave you hanging.

In this article, let’s assume that you have at least ten paying customers. If you have less than ten customers, marketing should not be your focus. Putting all of your energy into one on one sales techniques is the way to go.

1) Choose your SaaS purchase model: self service or sales based

In business to business SaaS products, there are two ways customers can buy. First, you have self-serve products where you buy the product with a credit card. Second, you have complex purchases where higher purchase prices require more. For example, if you are purchasing a $100,000 per year SaaS product like Braze, then you are probably not going to put that purchase on your corporate credit card.

Resource: Want to learn more from high growth SaaS companies earning $100,000 or more per customer? Check out this post: SaaS Churn Metrics: Insights From 16 Companies with ACV Over $100,000.

2) If self service SaaS, then take a marketing-led approach

With these purchases, your product likely has a purchase price up to $100 per month or $1200 per year. At the upper end of this range, you have the top tiers of products like ClickFunnels and Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft) priced in the $250 to $500 per month range.

At these levels, the traditional suite of sales staff, such as a sales development representative (SDR) and account executive (AE), probably does not make sense. There is not enough margin or complexity involved to justify such a sales model.

Instead, you need to think more like an e-commerce store like Amazon, Dispatch Coffee, or Threadless. These brands do not rely on sales professionals. Instead, they drive leads and purchases through marketing.

If you have limited resources, I recommend choosing a single marketing channel to get started. For more insight on the options available, review my past article on SaaS marketing channels.

3) If complex sales SaaS, then take a sales-led approach

There are SaaS companies where the average contract value (AVC) is over $100,000. I first heard about these companies through the Get Latka database. For example, Braze has an average contract value of $100,000 for its marketing automation solution. If you visit their website, you will see that there is no free trial available. Besides, there is no pricing page that I could find.

At higher prices and complexity, you get paying customers through a sales process. Almost no customer will reach out and decide to buy a $100,000 per year software product.

Further, buyers of such software are not simple. You need to convince them that you have robust cybersecurity. You might need to invest in third-party certifications like InEvent did to become more credible with Fortune 500 firms. For more on InEvent’s marketing, take a look at my interview with InEvent.

Marketing is still a critical part of the picture in terms of creating a strong brand. For example, look at the incredible diversity and quality of content marketing that Salesforce publishes today! However, you are there to support sales rather than drive the entire process.

Now you know how to acquire customers for your SaaS product.

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