Your SaaS app is not going to sell itself.
Slapping up a pricing page and a free trial won’t do the trick.
You might see a trickle of new users, but it’s not going to open the floodgates you need to in order to really grow the business.
To go from that initial traction to scale, you need a well-oiled sales machine.
Most SaaS owners understand this; it’s not new information.
But if your process resembles a backyard fort built by duct tape, or you rely on your sales rep trying to contact people during the onboarding process…you’re doing it wrong.
Let’s talk about getting it right.
First of all, the topic of SaaS sales is massive.
You can get lost in it.
But for you, right now, the first step to empowering your sales reps to winning you more paying subscribers starts with the right tool.
In particular, you need an email marketing automation tool that enables lead tracking, nurturing, segmentation, personalization, and scoring.
Now, don’t get me wrong: a tool won’t solve your problems. A tool is not the end but a means to an end.
If your sales process sucks, marketing automation will make it suck more.
It’s a multiplier, not a magic wand.
But in order for your sales reps to manage leads properly, and send the right message, at the right time, to the right person, they need the power to do so.
And we’re going to look at several ways in which marketing automation helps your sales team.
But first, some definitions.
A Lead Is A Lead, Is A Lead? Nope, Some Important Differences First
Your sales process might look slightly different, but profitable sales rests on clear definitions.
Your marketing should generate leads. For SaaS, this is often either contacts for nurturing (signed up for emails) and/or free trial users.
Now, here’s what you need to get a clear grasp on:
We’re specifically talking about how your marketing yields Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), which are handed over to your sales team, and converted to Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
You need to define what qualifies as a MQL or SQL yourself, based on your sales process and SaaS app.
In general, a working definition is that an SQL is a lead that’s “sales ready”.
That is, they’re ready to talk to someone about buying, or take an action that strongly indicates a desire to buy.
For a SaaS app, you’d most likely qualify a free trial user, who’s been onboarded and displayed sufficient activity and engagement in usage of your app.
So, someone who signs up for a 30-day trial but does next to nothing throughout that time?
Nope, that’s still a MQL. They need more nurturing.
But someone who signs up for a 30-day trial and uses your app on a daily or weekly basis (depending on your app), tries out features, integrations, and your analytics shows them engaging with the rest of the app?
That’s a SQL. They’re most likely ready to buy, or at least get nudged in that direction.
The “nudging” can be one or a combination of several activities from your end.
It can be the right content delivered at the right time.
It can be an appropriate webinar.
It can be a direct outreach email by your sales reps.
It can even be a meeting.
What you need to focus on is enabling your inside sales team to do the right thing, at the right time, with the right lead.
You can do that by using email marketing automation.
Blending Marketing + Sales Is The Future
For a MQL to become a SQL and then a customer, the process needs to be as smooth as silk.
You need to stop thinking of marketing and sales as two separate functions, and think of them as simply two aspects of attracting, nurturing, and converting leads into customers.
It is important to involve sales teams in the process of lead generation, because they’re knowledge will be needed for marketing to produce quality leads.
The effort must be a joint venture, sales and marketing together. Working hand in hand, they can close deals that neither team could do alone.
“Sales Enablement” means anything the marketing can do using the marketing automation tools at hand to help the sales team sell better.
This process involves efforts in both marketing and sales. The two teams need to communicate clearly. Without knowing what the salespeople need to be effective, marketing people can’t design and execute a marketing platform that is useful.
Where Do You Start? With Your Target Buyers, Of Course
If you’ve been doing email marketing for very long, then no doubt you are aware how important it is to segment your list into groups.
These can be categorized in numerous ways,, including:
- Sales group
But you need to take email strategies a step further. You should be sending content to people who visit your website and to prospects who download your whitepapers.
This process becomes simple with marketing automation. You can even identify customers that are in their annual purchase period.
Prepping, appending, and adding to leads, from the point where they are just a newbie MQL, all the way to becoming a customer – and beyond – needs to be a company-wide activity.
Marketing needs to make sure tagging and tracking is happening, along with utilizing and filling custom fields.
Sales need to do the same.
And the focal point of all efforts is: your potential buyer.
It’s a shift from a focus on how you do things, to how can you nurture and convert leads in the best way possible?
That’s a larger topic that requires more articles, but for now, to help facilitate that shift, let’s look at several ways email marketing automation can boost your inside sales team.
11 Ways Inside Sales Benefit From Email Marketing Automation
Marketing automation can be one of the strongest ways to drive sales and accelerate your pipeline. Here are 11 ways it can help.
1. Increase “Sales Visibility” In Your CRM
Tracking leads is only possible if you are, indeed, adding to their contact profile or card (whichever terminology your software uses).
Ideally, this happens at major points of conversion (going from a suspect to MQL, or MQL to SQL, and so on).
But updating these manually is a pain and practically impossible.
Marketing automation can help you do this, and it’ll do it on its own, for you.
Aside from using tagging and list segmentation, most software also uses custom fields.
You can push info to these fields. The most common are:
- Lead Status: This tells the salesperson the status of the lead and where he is in the buying cycle.
- Lead Score Field: This tells the salesperson if the lead is high or low priority.
You can usually push to a number of fields, including:
- Filled out form
- Email sent
- Email opened
- Sales email sent
- Clicked link in sales email
- Added to list
- Email delivered
- Remove from flow
- Sales email opened
- Sales email received
But though these are available, choose only the most critical ones for your needs. Find the most effective mix from all these options that are relevant for your process.
2. Only Spend Resources On Hot Sales Leads
Don’t waste time on leads that aren’t likely to eventually buy from you. With automation, you can track and monitor the activities of all the leads you capture. By getting a look at what they do, you can decide which are the best prospects.
How? You “score” your leads.
Add a score to activities that are indicators of buying behavior, and your automation software will keep track.
The software makes the process simple by letting you set alerts to notify you when a prospect shows interest in your product or service.
3. Speed Up Your Pipeline
By automating the process, you can follow up on leads quickly, which shortens the time involved in your sales cycle.
And automation makes the process flexible. If your lead isn’t ready to buy yet, you can simply add them to the segment of your list for further nurturing. Industry experts say that a lead that is effectively nurtured produces a 20% increase in your rate of sales, when compared to non-nurtured leads.
4. Calculate ROI More Easily
It’s essential that you measure how effective you ad campaigns are. Only accurate reports let you calculate your cost for each lead and allow you to tie your closed sales back to the original campaign that produced it.
5. Accurate Tracking, Analytics, And Reporting
To send the right emails to the right prospects, geared to the right point in the sales cycle for each, you need to monitor their actions constantly. If done by hand, it is demanding, time consuming and frustrating.
6. Filled To The Brim With High-Quality Sales Leads
Marketing automation can keep your pipeline filled with high-end leads. The right software can help you design custom landing pages and build lead capture forms that are dynamic and engaging. The technology also optimizes all this with the use of testing tools that are easy to figure out and implement.
In addition, marketing software can, through various configurations, integrate with Google Adwords or other PPC platforms. Automation also produces reports that give you real-time insight into how well your lead generation efforts are working. You can tweak your efforts as the campaign unfolds to make the best use of your marketing budget.
7. Send Personalized And Customized Emails
The automation tools let you design emails that are personalized for each segment of your list. These targeted emails are among the most effective methods you have to build relationships with prospects and to increase loyalty among those who have already bought from you.
The software makes it easy to nurture your leads by scheduling emails for consistent contact, wherever your prospect is in the sales cycle. You can send and track your emails from the most popular email clients using third-party plug-ins.
With automation, you can monitor, proofread and edit content, and send the emails on the right schedule with ease. It can measure each lead at the touch points you pre-select and keep track of where they are in the pathway through the sales cycle.
8. Following Sales Leads, From Beginning To End
Keeping detailed records about prospects gives you information that turns them into customers. This process is always easier if a single sales rep follows a lead all the way through the sales cycles. This is why many organizations prefer to develop leads created by their own sales team.
Marketing automation can leverage success with sales leads. It increases the efficiency of not just marketing leads, but also sales leads. It makes it easier for the sales team members to stay on top of all the leads available, from whatever source they originate.
9. Nurturing Leads Gone Cold, The Right Way
With marketing automation software, cold sales leads can be easily nurtured. This frees up the sales team to focus on more likely prospects that are further along in the sales cycle.
Cold leads can be targeted with an automatic drip campaign, receiving emails that are targeted to their needs. This means that both warm and cold leads get the attention they require to nudge them to an actual sale.
10. Share Emails Amongst Your Sales Reps
This has two big advantages:
- Tracking these emails gives you more data to base your campaign on.
- Everyone has access to the emails, so everyone is on the same page and has the knowledge they need to complete the steps they are assigned.
11. Combine With Phone Tracking
Marketing automation is now available for phone tracking. It’s a natural evolution, from tracking and monitoring emails to phone calls. This lets you measure and optimize each part of your buyer’s journey as he moves through the sales cycle. But it requires the use of best practices in order to become an effective tool for your marketing efforts.
Here is a look at the ways you can use the new technology to its best advantage.
Phone tracking data, when integrated with the information produced by marketing automation, can help connect inside sales teams and the people in business development. Aberdeen’s report called “State of Marketing Automation 2014 Processes that Produce” showed interested results along this line. Over 70% of the Best-in-Class companies listed have empowered their sales departments by giving them access to marketing automation data.
Clearly it is working for them.
Measuring data across all channels produces results that help increase sales. This can be taken a step further by optimizing it, making it the most relevant, consistent and useful as possible for customers.
Adding the functionality available with phone tracking to marketing automation data leads directly to better lead generation and moving people along the sales cycle more quickly.
Including the number of calls and call attempts metrics with other data makes it easier to decipher what your prospect needs from your sales team.
Email Marketing Automation Can Help Improve Your Sales Team’s Close Ratios
Obviously, a tool is a tool, and only an aid.
Email marketing automation won’t, on its own, help you sell more.
But breaking down barriers between marketing and sales, and combining efforts with marketing automation that enables lead tracking, nurturing, and scoring?
Think of the software as a sales rep assistant for your organization; one that frees up your sales team for the warmest of your prospects while attending to your less likely leads.
This improves efficiency and generates revenue for your organization.