You’re probably well aware that very few SaaS leads are ready to buy right away. According to the RAIN Group, it takes an average of eight touches to get a conversion. To move leads smoothly through the SaaS sales funnel, you need to understand how the pieces fit together and optimize for each stage.
This is essential for 1) reducing friction points, 2) creating a positive customer journey, and 3) setting your sales team up for maximum conversions. Here’s how to do that.
First off, let me say that there is no one-size-fits-all SaaS sales funnel that works perfectly for everyone. There are multiple variations, with some longer involving several steps and some shorter with only a few steps.
But for simplicity’s sake, I like this one, which involves four key steps — awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty.
Note that not all SaaS sales funnels include a post-purchase stage like loyalty. But given how critical retention is to SaaS success, optimizing for a post-purchase phase is incredibly important.
With that said, here’s how to tackle each stage of this particular SaaS sales funnel.
The awareness stage is at the very top of the funnel where potential customers first become aware of your SaaS product and brand. For the majority of prospects, they’re simply conducting some preliminary research, or as I call it, doing their “recon” on potential SaaS products that may address their needs.
Sometimes, they’re actively searching for solutions. Other times, they just happen to stumble upon them.
While there are numerous ways potential customers may become aware of a SaaS product, more often than not, it’s through one of three ways:
Therefore, these are the three main areas you want to optimize.
Start with on-site optimization and technical SEO, which includes creating a sitemap, increasing site speed, and internal linking. You can find a ton of great information on this here.
Also, follow best practices when creating content, such as performing keyword research and using proper headers (H1s, H2s, H3s, etc.). This is a great resource for learning about optimizing content for search.
Leverage multiple networks that your audience is active on to boost your brand exposure and find targeted leads.
This overlaps somewhat with optimizing content for search. Having a variety of content should help you raise brand awareness and pull in targeted leads from a variety of sources. Here’s what types of content perform best in 2023, according to Semrush.
Once your brand is on a potential customer’s radar and they’re considering your SaaS product, they’re officially a lead. To optimize this stage of the SaaS sales funnel, you’ll want to focus on lead nurturing, which can be done in a variety of ways, including:
And if you offer a free trial version of your product, you can tap into product-led marketing. When done correctly, this can have a tremendous impact, not only reducing the sales cycle and boosting conversions but also enhancing the customer experience and instilling deeper loyalty.
If you’re not familiar with product-led marketing, I suggest reading this guide.
Now is the fun part. After successfully moving potential customers through the awareness and consideration stages, you’re ready to pull the trigger and make a conversion.
There are three key strategies for optimizing the conversion stage of the SaaS sales funnel.
One is to use strategically placed, crystal-clear CTAs that encourage leads to buy. Here’s a good example from Zendesk.
Next, be transparent with your pricing so leads know exactly what they get, how much it costs, and what features each plan includes. Zendesk does a great job of this as well.
Finally, get in the habit of continuously A/B testing the content you use for conversions. You may, for example, want to experiment with different CTAs to see which gets the most clicks and results in the most purchases.
As you accumulate more data over time, you should be able to refine every aspect of the conversion stage and convert the maximum percentage of potential customers into actual customers.
The fourth and final piece of the puzzle is everything that comes post-purchase — the loyalty or retention stage.
As I mentioned before, retention is vital to the long-term success of a SaaS company. After all, it doesn’t matter how great you are at converting if you can’t retain customers for the long haul. And with an average annual churn rate of 10-14% annually, it’s something you need to be diligent about optimizing.
So what can you do to increase customer loyalty?
For starters, I suggest taking customer support seriously. This includes having a section of your website dedicated specifically to customer support like Zoom does…
…and making it easy for customers to get in touch with a support rep.
Next, it’s smart to send out period engagement emails to keep in touch with customers. For instance, you could provide them with tips on how to get the most from your SaaS product, information on new integrations or features, product usage reports, and more.
Third, always be looking to get feedback from users and implement that feedback to improve your product. This kills two birds with one stone because users want to know a company is listening, and it sets the stage for ongoing product improvement.
Lastly, you can use analytics such as churn reports to objectively track churn so you can determine what’s causing it and what you can do to stop making the same mistakes. Here’s an example from customer journey platform Woopra.
Optimizing your SaaS sales funnel end-to-end is of the utmost importance. By doing so, you should prevent major drop-offs from occurring, increase conversions, and generally make the customer experience more enjoyable. The formula outlined above addresses all four major steps and should get your funnel firing on all cylinders.
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