Sales reps are competing against the status quo.

– Brent Adamson, author of The Challenger Customer

Software-as-a-Service sales teams today are facing a unique problem.

Sales reps aren’t losing deals because of pricing, features or even competitors — they’re losing deals because of the prospects themselves.

What does that mean? Well, today’s SaaS sales reps are struggling against a perfect storm of highly-educated buyers, fear of change, and an increasingly complex buying process. Reps have to sell to multiple stakeholders, who have access to a lot of information and are often wary of making any new purchases.

Sales leaders should stop worrying about competition in the market and start focusing on the real challenge — the knowledge and preconceived notions of prospects themselves. Convincing these buyers and overcoming their reservations is the key to growing your SaaS business. Learn how you can prepare your sales team to turn tough B2B buyers into your biggest fans.

Nice to Have, not Need to Have

In SaaS, sales reps are often selling an innovative product that replaces a slow or inefficient manual process. For example, you buy CRM so you’re no longer managing sales leads in a spreadsheet; you buy marketing automation so you’re not manually tracking landing page conversions; and you buy finance software to streamline your billing processes. The problem is, some B2B buyers may consider your SaaS product innovative and interesting, but not a necessary purchase for their business right now.

In other words, your team is selling is a nice-to-have upgrade, instead of a need-to-have solution. This is where your sales reps have to create a sense of urgency and instill a little bit of fear in prospects. Reps must show the prospect that if they don’t buy the product, they’ll be losing X amount of money per day — and have the data to back up their claims. SaaS reps must be 100% prepared to prove the business value of the product, before prospects will ever consider buying.

More Stakeholders, Fewer Decisions

Not only do reps have to prove the product’s inherent value, they also have to convince multiple stakeholders across the organization. There are an average of 5.4 people involved in every B2B buying decision, according to research from CEB. Unfortunately, that means SaaS sales reps have to engage with and convince even more people within the organization, struggling to achieve the dreaded “consensus sale.” But as the number of people involved in the decision rises, the likelihood of a purchase actually diminishes.

It’s obvious to see why. Each person within the organization has their own goals, their own performance metrics, and their own priorities for a limited budget. Why would 4 of the 5 prospects choose to buy your product, when they can invest in another project that would benefit their team? Because it’s difficult to convince an entire team from the outside, reps have to instead focus on finding and empowering an internal champion who can advocate and push for change within the organization. Without a champion, the rep will see the deal stagnate and slow until it is officially lost. But with a champion, reps have a fighting chance to win over leadership and close the deal.

The Education Dilemma

Today’s SaaS buyers aren’t just difficult to convince, they’re also highly educated and self-motivated. If prospects do decide they’re interested in buying SaaS software for their team, they’re not waiting idly for a sales reps to call. They’ve already done a significant amount of research before ever engaging with a rep on your team. Most prospects have downloaded eBooks, read blog posts, talked with analysts, and checked out software review sites. In fact, 57% of the purchase decision is complete before a buyer speaks to a sales rep.

Many SaaS companies understand this challenge, and realize they have to invest in targeted content to draw in buyers as they begin to do research. If your marketing team has done their job well and led an inbound lead to your sales team, that doesn’t mean reps should stop educating the buyers. You must enable your sales team to easily access the marketing content they need to help educate and convince buyers, including competitive comparisons, in-depth eBooks, and more. With the right content, you can make life much easier for your sales team.

Fear of Failure

Even though SaaS software is less of a commitment than traditional on-prem solutions, that doesn’t eliminate the business risks. While prospects may have done the research, found your product, and like the value they see, that doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated their fear of failure. Every prospect’s worst nightmare is that they back a vendor and support buying a new product, only to have it fail horribly on implementation. If that happens, the prospect will personally be blamed for the failure.

The last step for sales reps on your team is to calm the prospect’s fears and assure them that the investment will be a success. Reps have to be able to guide prospects through a proof-of-concept, and should never over-promise and under-deliver on features. The real success of the implementation will be assured on your customer success team, but sales needs to help from the outset by setting the right expectations.The sales engagement is the first step in the process of creating a happy customer, and you should emphasize that aspect to your sales team, above and beyond the value of closing the deal.

The SaaS sales environment is changing quickly, and your sales team must keep up in order to stay competitive. Arm your sales reps with the knowledge they need to overcome these common objections, push through the fear of failure, and motivate urgency for change. Only then will your team succeed.