Early in 2016, a very bad day for the stock market resulted in some of the biggest SaaS providers in the world losing approximately $18 billion in market capitalization. Naturally this had many industry professionals and prognosticators scrambling, wondering if this was a freak occurrence that hits the market from time to time, or a sign of the industry regressing.
In reality, while the single day drop had very real consequences for the software industry, it simply isn’t indicative of any long-term slowdowns in the growth of SaaS. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are adopting software solutions at such a pace that there is still plenty of room at the table for everyone from SaaS startups to the tech giants. Organizations can’t compete any longer without employing innovative software solutions, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some changes in the way that software sales professionals get their products to people. Customers are now driving many of the distinctive trends that will shape the SaaS industry throughout the remainder of 2016 and beyond.
1. You are more likely to succeed with a lackluster desktop product than a lackluster mobile one
If there’s one tenet that needs to be stressed ahead of all others, it’s the primacy of the mobile experience. If your software isn’t exceedingly mobile-friendly and intuitive for the user, it’s unlikely that even the best salesperson will convince a prospect to learn more. SaaS sales reps have to be prepared with answers for any number of questions about how their product functions on a variety of different mobile devices, because every customer has experienced the frustration of struggling with software that wasn’t optimized for mobile use.
2. Personalization is the path to engagement
Customers crave personalization in their apps and in the buying process, and sales leaders can use this information to keep their clients actively engaged. Take the time to research how your specific customer would ideally use your software, and put together demonstrations with examples that are relevant to their unique job duties. If you’re dealing with a committee of decision makers, you can create a personalized experience for each one of them that will demonstrate how your product can solve their individual pain points.
3. IT departments are changing their shape
In the early days of software sales, the CIO generally had complete control of what solutions were purchased for various departments. As SaaS platforms proliferate and the technical side of things migrates to the cloud, the role of the IT department in the software buying process is changing. More decisions are being made at the business unit level, and software sales reps are having to learn how to speak to a new audience about their products.
4. Partnerships are increasingly a way to fill gaps
In an effort to meet new customer demands and diversify without breaking the bank, many SaaS organizations are turning to partnerships. N3, a cloud-based sales platform based in Atlanta, has leveraged partnerships with established players such as SAP and OpenText to kickstart their growth. As software companies continue to specialize, approaching competitors with unique partnership opportunities will become more commonplace. If you’re finding in sales calls that your product lacks a specific feature that your customers want but your company can’t easily include on its own, maybe it’s time to investigate your options for partnering with another organization.
5. Data security continues to become more problematic and more necessary
As more data is stored and transmitted by SaaS services, it becomes an even bigger target for criminals. At the same time, high-profile data breaches have put the software-buying public on high alert for potential security risks. Customers are learning to ask smart questions about the security protocols for their data, and they know they won’t be able to get their colleagues to buy in unless they can deliver answers throughout the organization. Be prepared with detailed information concerning your product’s security specifications, as well as any partnerships with data security services you may employ.
6. Adoption rates are spurring a funding boom
SaaS sales as a whole for 2016 are expected to reach $106 billion, and experts estimate that 59% of all cloud solutions will be SaaS-based by 2018. Venture capital firms and other investors are intensely interested in the SaaS industry right now, and funding opportunities are multiplying along with industry entrants. If one thing is for certain, it’s the year for more in SaaS: more opportunities, more competition, and more funding.
What trends do you see emerging in the SaaS sales world? What would you like to see happen? Leave your answers in the comments below!
Looking for Sales Force Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Sales Force Automation software solutions.