How to Build Predictability in 2023 SaaS Sales

BY:  Ton Dobbe
January 24, 2023
6 MIN. READING

How to Build Predictability in 2023 SaaS Sales

We’ve just entered 2023, which is always a good time to reflect on what worked and didn’t.

Expectations will rise again – whether driven by your aspirations or your investors. With everything happening in the economy, the political climate, and everything else, there’s a lot at stake. A lot…

The way to address it is head-on – with your management team and peers that don’t carry your emotional weight on their shoulders.

So to get you started, I reflected on my own experiences and what I learned from all the conversations I had in the past 12 months with B2B SaaS execs.

Here’s a list of changes to consider and valuable habits to embrace to build predictability into 2023 SaaS sales.

Tip #1: Turn discovery into an audition for the customer

SaaS metrics will increase when you say ‘no’ earlier and more often. No one wins by holding onto deals that we’ll never win. These deals drag everything down.
● They distract the sales team
● They distract the presales team
● They distract your execs with false forecasting insights
● They distract your delivery team with wrong workload insights

Remarkable software companies acknowledge they can’t please everyone.

They do this by flipping the script: turning the discovery into an audition for the customer. That way, it’s all about the customer, the problem the customer wants to be solved, the value of that problem to them, and the urgency by which this needs to happen.

If the signals in that story are weak, this allows them to qualify out fast – and you to spend your precious time helping those that fit perfectly. With that, everyone wins.

Tip #2: Always remember, you’re the guide; your customer is the hero

Too often, we go into a sales process to sell. What we want is to make the customer buy. We achieve that by painting a visceral picture of a future they secretly want. A future where they shine – and can make the biggest possible difference.

So again, it’s not about you; it’s about them. And remarkable software companies get this. They sell the idea – not the product. And they understand their role is to guide the customer into a new, better future where that idea is reality. It creates desire, i.e., a pull effect.

Tip #3: Focus on solving the problem instead of showing the product

The mistake everyone makes: When we get asked to do a demo, we think we need to give them training. And with that, we miss the point entirely.

If we have to provide training, that’s for after the contract has closed. Before the contract has closed, the only thing we need to focus on is to provide proof of value.

And this is about three simple things:
1. Showcasing how you solve their biggest problem, not more, not less
2. Exceeding their expectations in the way you do that
3. Minimize the time you have to use the software
My recommendation: Forget the word ‘demo’ and replace it with ‘Proof of Value.’

#4: 2023 is full of dynamics – so focus on what’s (become) mission-critical

As dynamics change, so do priorities. So what used to be mission-critical can instantly become a nice to have, and vice versa.

Focus on two areas:
1. Connect the dots to what’s changing for them externally. Your prospect operates in a market. And each market has external forces that create new opportunities and new threats. So your prospect has a choice: Anticipate and adjust or do nothing.
2. Pay attention to what’s changing for them internally. New opportunities and threats reshape aspirations and evolve their goals.

Then: Think about the things they’d try to avoid at all costs: churn, reputational damage, profitability crisis, not meeting investor expectations, etcetera. So get to the essence – and find what’s become mission critical.

#5: Claim pole position from the start – be remarkable in every step of the process

Most sales processes start with a long list. And just like in Formula 1, it’s often the vendor that starts in pole position that wins. It’s far easier to start #1 than to try to overtake competitors along the way. So how do you achieve that?

To stand out in the sales process, capturing their attention immediately is critical. Here are a couple of pointers to help:
1. Hook them by telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.
2. Ensure your sales interactions are memorable, simple, and personalized.
3. Leverage storytelling skills.

A solid first impression makes the difference when the customer starts making their final selections.

In summary

How 2023 will turn out for your SaaS business is in your hands. Everyone has to deal with economic, political, or social insecurities. How you approach this is an opportunity. Cherish that.

Ton Dobbe is the founder of Value Inspiration and author of The Remarkable Effect. He has established a mastermind/workshop approach to proactively guide B2B SaaS CEOs and their teams in accelerating their mission, and becoming a business the world talks about.

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About the author

Ton Dobbe

Ton is a strategic product marketing expert with over thirty years of experience in the international enterprise software market. He's the host of the weekly Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission Podcast and global influencer on Entrepreneurship, Startups, Marketing, Sales and Innovation.

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