By techweek Techweek
17 May 2021
Author: Australia Pacific Team, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Selling direct to your end users lets you stay in touch with their issues, pain points and potential prospects. It can also give you better quality control over your product/service and mean you can respond faster to areas of your business that need immediate attention.
You’re unlikely to have established networks in a market that’s new for you. Working with a distributor that’s linked in to the market segment you’re targeting can help you reach more customers faster.
A reseller established in your target market can also protect you from market-entry risks, such as the financial risks in hiring people and reputational risk. While the relationship can mitigate these risks, it will affect your point margin.
If you choose this model, you’ll need clear and separate value propositions for:
This will help you sustain the relationship over a long time and retain your channel network.
Actively assist your channel partners to sell your products/services. There are numerous ways you can do this.
It’s very important that your in-market partner/s are motivated to focus on your product/service sufficiently. Make sure they understand what their business objectives are and build the relationship around mutually beneficial business objectives.
For large, strategic deals, end users often prefer the vendor – as opposed to their local reseller – to be there when the deal is signed. This shows that you take their business seriously.
If there are other in-market SaaS businesses targeting a similar customer base but offering different services to you, there are real benefits in collaborating with them. These include shared learnings about pitfalls and what’s around the corner, and a strength-in-numbers approach if you’re presenting multiple product/service offerings to a customer.
Networking events are a great way to meet other SaaS businesses, but consistency is key – you don’t want to show up at an event and then disappear for two years. Attending, speaking at and sponsoring events will help you build brand awareness and brand value.
Writing thought-leadership content for industry association bodies is also a good way to raise your business profile. These bodies provide value for their (fee-paying) members through content and are often delighted for you to supply articles, as it takes a job off their desk.
Many early-stage exporters don’t do enough research to find out the right markets for their product/service, who their true customers are in that market, and how to reach them. You need to know who your target audience is so you can communicate directly with them, using the right language and channels.
You can use desktop market research to identify your serviceable addressable market (SAM) or, if you have the resources, get a market research agency conduct in-depth interviews for you.
Good marketing makes sales easier. A common mistake New Zealand SaaS businesses make when expanding offshore is not prioritising marketing or using a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing material.
It’s tempting to use the same marketing material you created for your New Zealand customers. But if you’re trying to reach customers in global markets, it’s important to speak to them in their language – and note that there are nuances between New Zealand, British and American English – and to use terminology that’s familiar to them.
The insights from your market research will help you answer their questions, name the problems they’re experiencing and offer your brand/product as a solution.
Survey your existing customer base and use these insights to fine-tune your value proposition.
Questions you could ask them:
When you enter a new market, work fast to get your first few clients and ask them to act as references for future sales. Many successful SaaS businesses have short video case studies or customer references on their website. These client testimonials will help amplify your value proposition. A written (1-2 pages) case study outlining how you implemented your service for a customer, along with pain points and tangible outcomes, will make it real for potential customers.
Even for SaaS businesses, a local in-market presence is very important. Having someone on the ground (not just registering your business in market) demonstrates your commitment to the market and allows you to deal directly with customers on some of the bigger in-market opportunities.
Where you can afford it, consider hiring an in-market customer success manager. This person will look after new customers, ensuring your product/service is implemented well and that they get any necessary training, and providing intensive customer support for a short period of time before stepping back.
It may not be feasible to hire this type of person, so make someone in your business responsible for understanding questions and key metrics like:
If you’re constantly acquiring new customers but churning them out, you’ll never grow, and you will burn through your cash.
Product sales mastery pro guide. Graphic recreated from The Cooler Moment.
“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. — Lord Kelvin, 19th century scientist”
When you’re expanding into a new market, it’s vital to set up the right systems (CRM or telephony, for example) and reporting functionality so you can capture and report on the right data metrics. You need to know things like: when do our customers become customers? When do they drop off? Where are the weaknesses? If you’re not capturing the right data, you can’t identify what needs to be fixed. Capturing poor data leads to poor measurement and analysis.
A common mistake is focusing on too many metrics, or metrics for the wrong stage and age of your company. If this is the case, you’ll spend a lot of time and resources measuring the metrics instead of analysing any useful changes that might result in sustainable growth.
If you’ve captured good data, have good reporting systems, and know what you want to measure, you’ll identify the strengths and weaknesses in your customer acquisition and retention chain, so you can address them.
The customer journey as a bow tie model, graphic recreated from Winning by Design.
Having a strong content strategy and good digital marketing is crucial in moving people along from not knowing about your business to becoming a prospect, to being a marketing qualified lead (MQL) then a sales qualified lead (SQL), to becoming a customer and retaining their business.
For SaaS businesses, knowledge is a marketing asset. Using it the right way (what knowledge you share) at the right time (when you share it) will help you win and keep customers.
The Marketing & Sales Funnel, evolved from AIDA, graphic recreated from Winning by Design.
Too much information up front or presented in a complicated way (e.g. a website homepage that’s crowded with information or hard to navigate) can put potential customers off. You can also lose customers by not communicating enough information or not offering fresh, engaging content during the nurturing stage.
Likewise, regular fresh content that keeps customers informed of product/service updates, changes, innovations, and relevant benefits, will help you retain and upsell customers.
When you’re planning a content strategy, consider four areas: resourcing, channel, frequency and type.
Up to 94% of all internet traffic is generated by the first page of Google search results. If your SaaS business does not appear on page one of Google when people search for your product/service, there’s a good chance they’ll never find you.
A website health check will help identify weaknesses in your website. Metrics, such as how much traffic your URL gets compared to your competitors, will help you identify weaknesses and potential improvements to your site in order to reach more customers.
For search engine optimisation (SEO), keywords are your tools to attract web traffic. To figure out what your keywords should be, think about the questions you (or those representing your brands) are commonly asked during demonstrations and webinars. Consider:
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