Pitching a complicated industry-specific SaaS is like the Olympics in sales.
In the era of social media and fast-paced content consumption, the most valuable asset is time. Advertisers are struggling to intrigue users with a five-second pre-roll on YouTube, while you need not five, not 10, but 45–60 minutes of a customer’s personal time for your product demo. You should use this time wisely to highlight the benefits of the product, not to overload the customers with unnecessary details.
How to Pitch a Complicated Product
There is no universal playbook for B2B sales. In some fields, it involves a long consideration process with multiple shareholders; in others, it boils down to a single decision-maker. Approaches to pitching may vary significantly, but throughout years of sales experience in an international SaaS company, we came up with a few fundamentals that can help you get your message across.
Talk about advantages, not the features
You need to figure out your buyer’s persona, narrow down their lists of wants and need-nots. After you do that, structure your narrative depending on their expectations, whether your client will use your platform’s advanced features, or if they are switching from a more expensive tool and looking for a cost-effective solution.
Depending on the clients’ needs and priorities, you should emphasize different aspects of your solution. If you’re talking to a yield manager or CRO, explain how your solution would allow them to save money: will it let them cut any costs? Hire fewer managers? Optimize productivity? Or is it just merely cheaper than the competitors’ solutions? If you’re talking to an operations manager, you can concentrate on the advantages of some handy features and show how they will automate the redundant work. Build your story around the client’s objectives.
Craft a narrative
This advice seems basic, but it is worth reiterating. Your pitch should sound like a coherent story, not a stream of consciousness. Start with overarching concepts, and then go into details. Imagine that you are explaining your product to a 7-year-old child. Use analogies; they always help.
Practice with your family and friends who do not have any knowledge in the field. Do they understand what your pitch is about? When I was starting out and needed an audience to practice my sales pitch, I ran a demo to my mom. It took her awhile to understand programmatic advertising principles, but ultimately she understood what I’m selling and what my job is all about. This exercise gave me some excellent tips: which parts of the presentation to skip and which to explain in more detail.
Don’t do the demo on the first call
Your main goal is to demonstrate the benefits of your solution for a particular customer, instead of trying to mention all the available features. Therefore, you shouldn’t bore them with all the details and features of your SaaS from the very first call.
Start out subtly, not to lose the customer’s attention. What do you usually do when you try to explain a sophisticated concept? Take a piece of paper and start drawing. Ideally, you’d use a gadget that allows you to draw with an electronic pen and share the screen.
Make sure your presentation is visually appealing. Add some interactive slides, animation, arrows, and blocks that appear one after another. Use presentations with visuals, infographics, and a bare minimum of text. In the meantime, don’t be afraid of switching between your presentations and platform interface to illustrate your story. Show where to find the part of your product in the user interface (UI) right after you described that part in your presentation. But don’t get carried away with the UI and get back to your presentation to deliver the general idea first.
Don’t sell the product from A to Z
Do a preliminary interview, and assess what kind of solution your prospect is looking for and which features they value the most. Before the call, check which software the client is currently using, look for reviews, video tutorials, understand the difference, and emphasize the advantages of your software.
Don’t rush to enumerate all of your features and modules, especially if you sell a sophisticated product. Don’t forget to mention your product’s main features, but concentrate on what is important for the client.
Don’t use insider terminology
There are several industries that do not have clear glossaries, and some companies (or even departments within companies) call certain entities differently. It makes sense to use distinct “languages” to talk to managers, business analysts, and developers. Be sure that the other person understands your terminology. If it’s impossible to avoid some internal slang in your demo, make sure you define any confusing terms in advance.
For instance, in the ad tech industry, “demand” may be called “traffic,” and DSP can stand for SSP, depending on perspective, and so on. Agree on the terminology you will use during this call and for further correspondence. Make sure the client understands you, ask follow-up questions, and check if they comprehended the key concepts.
Add the WOW-effect
If your solution allows you to demonstrate a measurable result within five minutes, do it. Show how simple everything is in practice as opposed to theory. Try unconventional methods to spark interest and excitement in your client. Make a demo in the form of a workshop and assign homework. Ask your potential customers to repeat your steps on their own to make sure they understood the interface.
When pitching a sophisticated SaaS solution, you cannot possibly convey all the details, and instead should stimulate your potential customer to explore it on their own, and do research. This is the most complicated part. You can’t force customers to “do the homework” or use your product. You can only encourage them by explaining the benefits they will gain. Such features as limited time (e.g. X days trial) and email sequences that remind about the trial end date help a lot. Explain, teach, educate, give time, but never push.
Use numbers as arguments
B2B is all about money, so purely emotional arguments don’t work here. Concentrate on facts, and detailed statistics. It’s essential to show how the potential client will receive a revenue boost by using your solution. Ideally, the numbers should be presented in a “before and after” format compared to other products on the market.
Customers are interested in the overall platform effectiveness, and you need to have statistics on hand. Add several use cases to your presentation: some evidence-based data on how much your clients saved after switching to your solution.
Salespeople frequently sugarcoat facts, it’s not a great strategy. If you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, it is better to clarify than to promise something that is not there. Also, don’t try to impose a product on someone who doesn’t need or won’t benefit from it. Sooner or later, the truth will be revealed, and you will lose the client – especially if you have a subscription business model with monthly fees.
Calculate the payback time of the solution for your clients. Talk to a client and gather all the essential information about their size, customer base, and so on. Based on this information, evaluate whether the introduction of your SaaS is cost-effective in their particular case. This will show that you are genuinely interested in finding a match between a product and a client and not just pushing for the sale. This honest approach will benefit your reputation and save time.
Speak clearly and concisely
Be sure your voice is understandable, clear, and articulate. Don’t use complicated or jargon-filled vocabulary, especially if your customers are not native English speakers. Speak up, and don’t mumble. Have a conversation; don’t babble the same memorized text.
Make pauses to leave room for questions and make sure that the customer always understands you. Remember, a good sales conversation is when the customer speaks more than the salesperson. There should be more questions than statements. Don’t drag out your presentation for more than 40 minutes. Summarize everything you said and go back to the overall structure and benefits.
Learn from your mistakes
With the client’s permission, record the call and analyze it later. You don’t need a sales coach to notice your flaws – you’ll hear everything yourself. Just take a step back and adopt an outsider perspective. Does the pitch convince you? Have you received all the necessary information about the product to make a decision?
To sum up
To successfully pitch a sophisticated SaaS solution, get ready to talk at length about how your product solves customer problems in the simplest words possible.
- Structure your pitch on the basis of the customers’ goals and objectives. First, find out what they need, and only then demonstrate the capabilities of the product based on their requirements.
- Don’t overload your client with unnecessary details. They may lack the expertise to appreciate the technicalities, and as a result, lose the thread of the story.
- Prepare your evidence, such as figures, cases, reviews, illustrative examples. This information will reinforce your argument and cultivate credibility, the most important sentiment in B2B sales.
- Study your prospect, ask detailed questions on their business model, size, partnerships, previously used software.
- Calculate the ROI of your solution implementation, and be honest regarding the utility of your SaaS in the particular instance of your client. That is essential for building a rapport.