Friday, March 2, 2018

Have your prospects gone missing, or just hibernating?

Here’s a sorry fact:  most of your prospective customers won’t end up buying your software-as-a- 
service (SaaS) solution.

Lots of folks who should buy it, won’t buy it.  They have a problem you can solve.  But instead of fixing it, they’ll stick with the poor system they already have.

Others won’t buy your solution because they’ve never heard of you.  Or they’ve found another option that fits their needs, and they feel there’s no need to look any further.

There are even some prospects that do know you and they do see that your solution would help them… but they just won’t get around to buying. 

These people have visited your website, opened your emails, read your white papers, sat through a demo, even talked with your sales people about pricing.  They’ve been in your pipeline for 90 days, 180 days, maybe a full year, but they’ve still not converted into paying customers.

You might figure that these prospects have gone missing.  Despite all you’ve been through with them, no way, no how will they ever buy.

But you may be wrong about that.  Perhaps they’re not truly gone; they’re just hibernating.

Reviving the hibernating prospects

Which is to say that with a bit of effort, some of them can be revived. 

For some of these hibernating prospects, other priorities interrupted them.  While they may have been eagerly evaluating your solution six months ago, more important issues got in the way.  (See “Your prospect has a day job.”)

At some point, whatever it is that prompted them to look at your solution in the first place may make its way to the top of their to-do list once again.

Your job as marketers is to be sure that you and your solution are still in front of that prospect when that time comes.  When they get around to focusing again on the problem, and they start to think about a solution, you want to be top-of-mind. 

Even better, you can do your part to push your solution higher up on the priorities list.  Make it clear to the prospect that the problem they’re living with deserves urgent attention and there’s a cost to ignoring it or pushing it to the back-burner. 

Every day they put off solving it is costly to their organization: wasted money, lost time, added risk, lost opportunities, and other bad outcomes.  (See “Your toughest competitor…inertia.”)

Be smart about the cost

Of course, you want to be careful about the costs of these efforts to revive hibernating prospects.  Using sales professionals to stay in touch can be expensive.

But offering them educational papers, inviting them to webinars, or showing them customer success stories can keep you on the prospect’s radar screen.  And the cost of keeping them on an email list is very low.

These communications should provide an easy way for the prospects to tell you they’re ready to re-engage.  And of course, you should also offer them an easy way to unsubscribe if they’re truly done with you.

Bottom line:  Don’t assume that prospects that you’ve not heard from in weeks, even months have gone completely cold.  They may just need a bit of attention and some heat to warm them up.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Before you talk about the solution, point out the problem

Lots of people who you think should be interested in your software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, couldn’t care less.

It doesn’t matter that they perfectly fit your “ideal customer” persona.

It doesn’t matter that your solution is full of features built especially for them.

It doesn’t even matter that you’re sure it’ll be a huge help to their business.

Despite all that, they’ll still ignore you.

They don’t care about your features, your user interface, your expert training and support, your attractive price, or anything else you’re just dying to show them.

At least they’re not interested yet.  

Identify the pain

Before prospective customers will pay any attention at all to your solution, they first need to recognize that they have a problem.  So first it’s your job to show them that problem. 

You need to make them see that the way they’re doing something right now is the wrong way.  The tool or process they’re using is hurting their organization. 

·       It’s costing money.
·       It’s losing customers.
·       It’s wasting time.
·       It’s risking penalties.
·       It’s losing them good candidates.
·       It’s costing market share.
·       It’s keeping them from control.
·       It’s blinding them to opportunities.

Show it's an urgent problem

In fact, you not only need to show them that there’s a problem.  You need to point out that it’s an urgent problem and it needs immediate attention. 

A reminder: most prospects for SaaS solutions have a lot of other things on their plates.  They are not assigned the full-time job of evaluating technology. They spend most of their time managing HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, or whatever function they’re responsible for. (See “Your prospect has a day job.”) 

In other words, they’re always looking at a long list of problems to be dealt with.  And only the two or three at the top of the list get any attention.  If the problem you solve is way down on that list, the prospect just doesn’t have the time.

When do we get to talk about our product?

I can hear you whining right now (I worked in tech marketing for a long time before I started this

If I need to spend so much time talking about the prospects’ urgent problems, when do I get to talk about my wonderful product?!

After all, when a prospective customer visits your website, watches your video, looks at your email, stops in your trade show booth, or picks up your phone call, all you’ve got is maybe a minute or two of their time.  How much of that can you give to hearing about the prospect’s problems?

My advice:  give most of that time to talking about problems– maybe all of it.  

Because until the prospect recognizes that they have an urgent problem – until they’re nodding their head thinking “this is something I need to fix ASAP” – they won’t be paying attention to anything you’re saying about your solution.