The software-as-a-service industry is as complex as the development of the software products themselves. While this dynamic industry continues to shift and change as technology does, the one thing that will never change is the fact that a company’s success depends on the amount of sales it makes and the number of customers it acquires and retains. The burden to sell products and make customers happy may appear to fall solely on the sales team, but in reality, this responsibility rests on the shoulders of each and every employee.

Product Developers are Key to Customer Satisfaction
In today’s market, SaaS companies are controlled by the customer. There are so many choices for software available that a company not willing to satisfy the customer’s needs will not survive. Since SaaS is typically subscription-based it is increasingly easy for dissatisfied customers to switch providers with very short notice. In essence, satisfied customers are the key to success. And it starts with the product.

SaaS companies have to provide customers with a product that fulfills their needs. If they don’t, the customer will simply go elsewhere. This means that anyone who has a hand in the development of the software needs to keep the customer in mind. Software developers may not think of themselves as salespeople, but they’re satisfying a customer need by creating a salable product. The development team should always consider customer’s expectations and needs when creating and enhancing software. This isn’t a one-time thought either. As product development progresses, designers need to constantly consider their customers’ challenges to ensure that the software addresses customer needs.

Likewise, quality control engineers are a vital part of customer satisfaction – when new features or upgrades are released, QA is the magic behind the scenes that will ensure the roll out is seamless for the customer. A poorly functioning software does not make for a good sales pitch.

Marketers are your sales foot soldiers
Think about the first time you heard about your favorite product. How did the information come to you? Was it through email, advertising, a blog post, social media or something else? No matter how you first came in contact with it, the marketing team for the product likely helped in that interaction and provided the introduction to their product and their company.

While an advertisement of some sort probably won’t totally sell a customer on its own, it has the power to create a strong first impression, which can cause the consumer to seek out more information from a member of the sales team. In essence, marketers open up opportunities for dedicated salespeople to finish the job.

It comes down to communication and information. Your SaaS business needs to communicate with consumers on a consistent basis and provide them with all of the information they need to make a purchase. Focus on illustrating the value of the product to the customer and the satisfaction that comes with it. While this isn’t necessarily direct selling, your marketing team can have a substantial impact on your customer’s perception of your business, thus driving sales and increasing revenue.

Customer service reps are extremely important to customer satisfaction
In a SaaS environment there is a strong chance that your customer support team may be the first contact a prospect has with your company – for example if they sign up for a free trial on your website without speaking to a sales rep. Trial accounts are just as important to your business as full-fledged customers, because of course the goal of the trial is to convert them into long term customers. Make sure your entire staff understands this and acts accordingly – the actions taken by your employees during a trial can have a huge impact on that prospect’s decision to purchase your software or not.

Although customer service reps aren’t always the first contact a customer has with your company, they maintain a steady and strong relationship with your customers over time, and that has the ability to increase overall customer lifetime value. Especially when you consider that when a customer contacts support, it is likely due to an issue with the software or a frustration the customer is experiencing. Any time a customer reaches out to you for help, that is your time to shine.

Additionally, customer service reps are the perfect agents for upselling and cross selling. SaaS companies should empower their customer support reps to identify opportunities through the use of customer support software that tracks all customer information – including process issues and feature requests. When this information is properly tracked, reps can utilize it to provide customers with efficient answers to their problems, and some of those solutions might be to upgrade to an additional or higher-level software solution.

When customers appreciate the support they’re given, not only will they continue to use the software they will also often increase their usage. And let’s not forget the side benefit: they’ll also be happy to spread the word, resulting in new customer acquisition.

Your accounting team is also part of your sales efforts
Customers don’t enjoy dealing with errors, and they need quick, easy-to-understand answers to any billing questions they may have. First and foremost, the accounting team should work to minimize any issues with billing and ensure that anything associated with the customer’s subscription is presented in a simple and concise way. While focusing on reducing errors is smart, there is always the chance that some mistakes will slip through. This is where your accounting team takes on the role of sales and service in addition to finance. Billing concerns should be addressed with the same poise and empathy as any help desk request – working to address the customer’s issue as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Likewise the members of your sales and customer support teams should be empowered to answer billing questions so they don’t have to “pass the buck” to accounting. This means providing access to basic billing information, an integration between your customer support and accounting systems, or at the very least a collaborative system that promotes inter-departmental communication. No matter which department receives a customer inquiry, they should always work to answer the customers’ questions and keep their satisfaction levels high.

Educating employees will help them realize their role
We all know that customer satisfaction is key, but remember that it’s difficult for employees to make customers happy if they don’t fully understand their role in the company. While some personnel may turn up their noses at the idea of being labeled a salesperson, you need to educate them as to how their role supports sales goals. The sooner everyone accepts that they are a key contributor to increasing revenue, the quicker your team can get to work accomplishing these goals.

Also, it can be good to provide basic sales training to all employees. This doesn’t mean you show them how to use the CRM system, it simply means you teach them to identify and promote value in the same way a customer would see it. When all employees are able to identify sales opportunities and approach customer interactions with the customer in mind, your business is more likely to develop new streams of revenue and find ways to increase customer satisfaction (aka retention).

Every employee is an ambassador for your brand
No one would want a software developer or accountant trying to pitch a new product to a customer – that should of course be left to the sales team. However, all employees contribute in some way to sales and they should all be ambassadors for your brand.

Customers have a number of ways to find your business. They can use social media, search engines, come directly to your site, be influenced by traditional ads, online ads, or through a business connection. With so many different pathways to your business, come plenty of selling opportunities. Once all of your employees are aware of their role and how they are connected to the sales process and goals of the company, they can be your greatest sales allies. Whether it be a simple posting on social media about a positive occurrence at work or a discussion with a colleague they met at a business conference, their attitude and enthusiasm for the work they do and the company they do it for will have an undeniable impact on bottom-line revenue.

The idea that every employee is a salesperson isn’t a new one, but it is probably truer now than it has ever been. The age of the customer has spurred many companies to constantly strive to position themselves as industry leaders, and the only way they can truly do this is to utilize skills typically attributed to the sales team: namely a passion for making customers happy.