One of the main reasons why start-ups fail is that they run into the problem of not having either sufficient demand or opportunity in a market place to fuel growth.
Without being able to scale up a company through growth has ramifications – most significantly that it reduces in the short term the ability to drive leads into the sales pipeline, earn revenue and fund your start-up.
As a SaaS business how can you use digital marketing to generate leads for your sales pipeline?
Typically when a product is not in demand it’s because it doesn’t solve a problem that enough people are looking to address.
Pursuing a poor idea can use up resources and funding, as well as divert focus and energy. Hitching yourself to a poor idea means being brutally honest and looking at an exit rather than hoping for a miracle to save you.
So one of the first steps to building a successful company is knowing your ideal customers well enough to confidently pinpoint their needs and pains.
And one of the most effective ways to do this is by creating B2B buyer personas.
Few companies achieve what is considered truly “overnight success”.
Successful companies may appear like an overnight success, but in fact these companies typically have achieved their growth through picking up small incremental gains over time that together generate momentum.
The “build it and they will come” strategy doesn’t quite hold as much weight as it used to. In today’s markets success stories are often the result of years of hard work, and a well-timed and executed sales and marketing plan.
Recently, CB Insights collected post-mortems on 204 failed startups and from their findings, they were able to rank the 20 top reasons for these failures (see below chart from CB insights research) :
Effectively targeting a market
For a start-up an effective way to approach a market is to keep it small and manageable.
Normally only a small proportion of any population will be interested in your solution. The “ideal” situation for example is a small customer group, concentrated together and served by few or no competitors.
Remember – if you try to market to everyone, you waste both time and money and as we have seen with the most common reasons for failure you need to have a robust market that needs and wants your solution.
So How Do You Select A Market?
Size – Generally, the smaller the customer is, the higher the risk of having to regularly replace them because of limited budgets and internal resources, so think big!
Budgets – You need to think about the budget your buyer persona will pay for your product or services.
Learn to read the market – Is it swamped with competitors and alternatives, is it mature, is the market changing, etc.?
Market segmentation – is the segment big enough to meet your sales goals yet not so big that your product will be lost?
Knowing and understanding your market place has always been key for a successful sales and marketing strategy for a start-up.
A Complex Sales Cycle
In today’s digital world, traditional marketing as we have known it, does not always work – especially if you are a start-up, SaaS or a tech business that requires a commitment to a significant investment or involves a complex sales process.
It is important but not sufficient just to attract visitors to your website, ask yourself:
- What happens when visitors arrive, is your website set up for conversion?
- What if they are just looking and not ready to buy yet, how do you treat them?
- How do you qualify them as prospects to nurture going forward?
- Why are they choosing your solution over your competitors?
- What content do you have ready to wow them with to turn them from strangers to leads?
The Power Of Self-Research & Inbound Marketing
Traditional marketers are skilled at understanding traditional products, but the Internet has redefined the way we buy as consumers and businesses.
Without fail we all go online now to research and self-educate before making a decision. As a result companies are now gradually understanding the need to adopt a new sales and marketing approach.
The inbound methodology as an approach attracts website visitors by creating interest with content that informs and educates, helping people to identify symptoms and solve problems.
Today the B2B buyers search activity fuels far more research online than ever before and means that they enter the sales funnel far better prepared and at a later point.
These changes in buyer behaviour mean that marketing needs to educate and qualify leads as they enter the sales funnel, and then nurture them until such point that they want to have direct sales contact.
For a lead generation programme, this means that marketing can have longer exposure to a lead before they are eventually handed over to sales as a “warm prospect” ready to be contacted.
By the time there is contact, the prospect has found and digested much of the information they need online.
The change in the buyer – seller relationship now means that sales needs to adopt a more buyer-centric approach, open to listen and discuss needs and provide advice before prematurely selling.
Are You Attracting Or Distracting Your Customers With Your Digital Chatter?
Digital media is everywhere, buyers have access to information 24/7 whenever they want and however they want it. B2B buyers are now inundated with content outside of your influence from different media, your friends, peers, etc.
As a SaaS business ask yourself the following to make sure you have the right focus to make a digital impact:
People – does your team have the right skills and are there any gaps to fill?
Opportunities – do you know the digital behaviour of your customers and can track the impact of actions that you have carried out?
Content marketing – how well do you know your solution and how it addresses your customers needs?
Technology – are you using your resources effectively to distribute your messages and capture the behaviour of your buyer personas?
Have a Compelling Start-up Story
Use your story, background, “ups & downs” to stand out from the crowd. Drive your brand values and get a return on your PR / communication efforts by isolating what your product is and the problem it solves.
In a world where “content marketing rules” it has become a strategic marketing approach influencing every phase of your prospects buying cycle.
To get the most out of your content marketing efforts you need to employ a promotion and distribution strategy using a combination of owned, earned and paid media channels to amplify the reach of the content.
And don’t forget to spend as much effort on distributing your content as you do creating it.
Let us know if you need help navigating the route to successful SaaS growth.
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- 19x proven ways to shorten the SaaS sales cycle.