It's a story that we've heard time and time again.
A talented, capable marketer is using all the right inbound SaaS sales model techniques to grow their top of funnel (TOFU) and middle of funnel (MOFU) leads. But then all of a sudden, when it comes to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), everything changes. As soon as the phrase “close” enters the equation, they become a different person entirely.
The calculus shifts, and suddenly, all the SaaS sales pipeline stages that had been working so well up to that point are suddenly abandoned. All of the rich, value-driven content ideas that had been used at every stage along the way are seen as inadequate. The switch is flipped, with aggressive outbound marketing techniques taking the lead.
And then, when conversion rates don't live up to expectations and the ROI of their SaaS Sales Pipeline suffers, our talented and capable marketer is left frustrated and confused.
The Tale Of The Confectionery Marketer
This unfortunate story is driven by the fact that many people still don't believe that inbound marketing can be used to close in a SaaS sales strategy. But the reality is that inbound’s focus on value-driven content is always about generating ROI. It's not as if this suddenly changes once we enter BOFU’s rarified, near-mythical air.
Here’s a helpful analogy.
Let's say you go to a bake sale and you're wandering around the floor open to suggestions about what buy. Suddenly, you smell something that seems promising.
So you wander over, and ask the kind grandma behind the booth “what is that amazing smell?” She replies, “my home-baked chocolate chip cookies with peanut butter cups inside! (Authors note: the cookies in my fantasy are chocolate chip with Reese’s Cups, yours can be something less good if you prefer). “Home baked chocolate chip cookies,” you reply. “That sounds amazing!”
She gives you a small free sample and you take a small bite. They are definitely some good cookies. But as you're munching them, you notice the booth right next to hers has some brownies that look really enticing, too. So you take a few steps toward it.
“Wait!” she calls out. You turn around expecting to see her warm friendly smile. But instead, she launches at you with a list of reasons why her cookies are better than those brownies. “My cookies are warmer, moister, and made from fresher ingredients!” she practically screams. “And anyway, I’ll give you a great deal if you buy a dozen right now!”
“Um, maybe I can try another cookie?” you ask sheepishly. “It might help me decide.”
“No way!” she yells. “Let’s close this deal right now!”
You smile politely but don’t hesitate to wanderer way to the brownie stand and never come back.
That’s exactly how leads feel when it comes to brash, outbound marketing tactics instead of welcoming inbound BOFU tactics.
Inbound Marketing Drives ROI At All Stages Of The Funnel
While obviously a bit tongue-in-cheek, the moral of the story is that chocolate chip cookies with Reese's cups are awesome. Inbound’s value-driven “cookies” work at all stages of the SaaS sales process. In fact, abandoning them at the end of the funnel is it an almost surefire way to lose sales and bleed ROI.
By giving prospects and leads tasty bits of information along the way, inbound techniques are proven to generate interest in SaaS products when selling SaaS to small business. Is really believable that when it comes time to close the sale that people don't want to be treated in the same manner?
Inbound works because it's premised on the fundamental human truth of value provision. It’s an immutable law that should be followed at all times.
It’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately, the real problem here is often an uncomfortable one. It's not so much that marketers don't think that inbound can work at the end of the funnel. It's that they don't understand how to sell SaaS at the BOFU with inbound marketing looks like. But luckily, that is a problem that can easily be fixed.
4 Tips For Using Inbound To Close In A SaaS Conversion Funnel
If you fall into this category, here are four tips that you can use to close more SaaS deals by using a proper SaaS b2b sales strategy.
Don’t Attack Leads. Continue Problem Solving.
The biggest mistake that many businesses make is simply believing that the bottom of the funnel in a B2B SaaS sales model is any different from the top or the middle. But the reality is that no matter where a lead is in the baking process, they are there because they have a problem that needs solving. You should always focus on that.
Outbound techniques turn the tables on the customer, making it about the business (that wants a sale). Remember, we were thinking about buying the cookie until grandma started giving us the hard sell. If she had just let us try another sample and patiently continued to show us why the cookie would bring us value, she probably would've had a sale. Instead, we walked away.
Be nurturing at all stages of a SaaS marketing plan, or you risk losing a customer at any stage of the sales process.
Close by showing the lead WHY they need the product
By the time leads reach BOFU, they've already had their questions answered and understand the products very well. What they need at this point is to be convinced of WHY they need the product.
Outbound techniques will tell the customer that they need the product, but won't actually show them why. Inbound techniques such as a SaaS free trial offer will. Again, think about the cookie. What we wanted when we were deciding between the cookie and the brownie was another demonstration of why the cookie was better — not an offer to buy a dozen at a discounted price.
Delight a new customer and turn them into a promoter
Although every business wants to make the sale, no single sale in isolation is enough to sustain the business over the long-term. By focusing on providing value at every stage of the process, inbound not only creates customers, but also potential advocates.
Since BOFU is the last interaction that a lead will have with a SaaS company before becoming a customer, it's the last chance that the company has to make a good impression. A SaaS marketing strategy that makes customers feel like they were partners all along the way is much more likely to get referrals.
Generate reliable BOFU data & then put it to work
Unlike outbound, leads that are nurtured through the entire sales funnel via inbound channels can be properly and effectively documented. This gives you the tools they need to see what worked, what didn't work and act accordingly.
This constant improvement and refinement of the totality of the funnel is the best way to increase marketing ROI. SaaS companies that use BOFU inbound techniques will be able to close the loop and see where leads are getting stuck, when a salesperson might have been needed, and even how long the overall buyer journey takes on average.
Many companies believe that abandoning inbound techniques at BOFU will better convert the leads earned by TOFU and MOFU content. Ironically, the opposite is true. Not only does that convert fewer leads, but it ends up decreasing the potential effectiveness of that content, and by extension, overall ROI in SaaS b2b marketing.
If you’re still hungry for more about how inbound marketing can increase your SaaS sales, contact us today. We specialize in SaaS marketing and are here to help you reach your company’s sales goals. Plus we may have a good cookie recipe or two!