What is SaaS Sales? A Comprehensive Guide to Build a Sales Strategy

Created On
August 28, 2023
A Comprehensive guide to SaaS Sales

The SaaS industry, also known as software as a service, shows immense potential and has witnessed an impressive growth of 500% in the last 7 years. This makes it a prime time to enter this rapidly expanding market. However, mastering SaaS sales is a crucial step.

Breaking into the SaaS world can be challenging. Whether you're new to sales or seeking to enhance your existing skill set, this guide on SaaS sales will help you kickstart your journey. You'll gain insights into initiating SaaS sales, exploring effective models, tackling unique challenges, understanding vital metrics, and utilizing essential tools.

What is SaaS? 

SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service. It is a cloud based software delivery model that offers software access to the customers over the internet. In the SaaS model, a software is hosted on remote servers and developed & maintained by the service provider. Paid customers can avail the software via APIs, web browser, and mobile application.

Some popular SaaS products are: 

  • Salesforce
  • Smartlead
  • Trello
  • Zoom
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Mailchimp

What is SaaS Sales?

SaaS sales involves the art of marketing and distributing web-based software, which users can conveniently access via an online platform. The acronym 'SaaS' stands for Software as a Service, a solution favored by enterprises to effectively address their specific challenges and needs.

Usually, dedicated customer success teams oversee the operational aspect of SaaS software, backed by the technical expertise of the SaaS provider's product engineers. Typically adopting a subscription-based pricing structure, the primary focus of the SaaS sales team revolves around both enhancing the offerings for existing clients and ensuring customer retention, all the while turning fresh prospects into paying customers. 

How is SaaS Different from Other Types of Sales? 

  • Selling Software as a Service (SaaS) involves more than a simple product delivery post-sale; it requires ongoing support and engineering. Whereas, other types of sales may include selling physical products or services that may/not require post-sales support. 
  • SaaS sales teams are responsible for establishing lasting customer relationships to ensure future sales. On the other hand, other types of sales focus on closing individual sales with less emphasis on building customer relationships.
  • The SaaS sales cycle is prolonged due to high costs, direct impact, and multiple decision-makers involved. Keeping the B2B sales cycle aside, end-users are the sole decision-makers in other sales cycles. 
  • Building a SaaS sales team involves hiring Sales Development Reps (SDRs) for outbound sales and lead qualification. In other kinds of sales, sales teams may focus more on lead generation and direct outreach.
  • Business Development Managers (BDMs) focus on product demos and finalizing deals in the SaaS sales process. But onboarding and after-sales support may not be extensive after the initial sale.
  • Sales representatives must have a deep understanding of the software's features to effectively showcase and troubleshoot during demos. In other cases (B2C), in-depth product knowledge may not be as extensive as SaaS sales reps. 
  • The primary goal of a SaaS sales team is to advance qualified leads through the pipeline and drive revenue to the business. The goal of a B2C (in some cases, B2B) sales rep is to drive individual sales and meet specific targets.

SaaS Sales Cycle

Determining your sales cycle for a B2B SaaS business depends on several critical factors. Notably, the complexity of decision-making grows alongside the cost of your SaaS product, leading to an extended sales cycle.

Start by evaluating your software's pricing structure. The standard SaaS sales cycle lasts for approximately 84 days. Subsequently, consider the desired contract duration as it will factor into your annual contract value (ACV) calculation. Other aspects you need to consider are:

  • Initial charges (e.g., training expenses)
  • Upselling and cross-selling revenue
  • Customer churn rate
  • Total ACV from all contracts
  • ACV derived from all contracts for an average revenue benchmark

Moreover, should an extended sales cycle be identified, prompt actions can be taken:

  • Assess the viability of offering a trial period ranging from two weeks to a month.
  • Enhance sales content in collaboration with a lead generation specialist.
  • Direct your SaaS marketing team to disseminate informative content through novel market channels before commencing outreach.
  • Finally, if shortening the sales cycle seems impossible, you should take that into consideration and integrate this timeline into your initial budget.

To determine your sales cycle, various factors come into play. For instance, as the cost of your SaaS product increases, the decision-making process becomes more intricate, potentially prolonging the cycle.

Difference Between Sales Cycle and Sales Funnel 

If you are new to sales, the complex terms can perplex you, especially when it comes to the sales cycles and sales funnels. While the terms might seem interchangeable, they essentially mean different things.

From a sales rep's POV, a sales cycle is the journey a customer goes through during the sales process. On the other hand, the sales funnel gives you a big picture of what your sales team does, covering the customer's journey and even steps before they become paying customers.

Keeping track of where a buyer is in the sales cycle is really important for a SDR. Businesses use the sales cycle as a way to understand and watch how customers buy things and build sales strategy around it.

On the other hand, the sales funnel includes everything a buyer does, including stuff that happens before a sales development representative gets involved. For example, the "Awareness" stage when people learn about a product or company through marketing. This happens before the sales cycle starts, where the sales team is active.

Major SaaS Sales Models: Which One is Best for Your Business? 

1. The Self-Serve Sales Model

The Self-serve selling model eliminates the need to perform traditional sales activities. Instead, marketing plays the key role in generating revenue which involves promoting product awareness, distributing compelling content to attract the target audience, setting up automated workflows, and deploying a simple and smooth signup and onboarding process for new users.

This model shows exceptional effectiveness, especially for SaaS businesses that offer products at lower price points. Two critical factors align in such cases:

  • Allocating resources for dedicated sales representatives becomes excessively costly for converting potential client queries into successful sales.
  • The market shows a preference for self-sufficiency, with users autonomously engaging in the onboarding sequence to derive value from the product. In these situations, the company must verify that potential customers possess the necessary technical expertise to navigate the process independently.

Market stats prove that this method works well. In fact, 77% of customers say they perceive a brand more positively if they provide self-service options for customers. 

2. The Transactional Sales Method

This sales model works when customers are less willing to buy higher-priced products without some interaction with sales development reps due to perceived risk involved in the purchase.

This may not mean they always demand contracts, but it can happen. This model involves online educational content inside sales teams and to build relationships and convert potential clients.

In this model, marketing efforts are solely focused around qualified lead generation, building the sales pipeline, or aiding the customer's purchase with content marketing (by offering value-addition to their pain points). 

Notable Insight: Market trend and sales data shows that self-service SaaS companies leverage transactional sales models as they grow bigger and cater to a wider customer base. 

3. The Enterprise Sales Model

Enterprise sales is more complex than both the self-serve and the transactional sales model. It requires a dedicated and well-trained sales team (with in-depth knowledge of the offering) to identify potential customers, nurture leads, build relationships, close deals, onboarding guide and after-sales support.

Enterprise companies often have multiple sales teams supported by product marketing and sales resources to engage and convert high-value accounts.

If you are looking to incorporate an enterprise sales model in your SaaS business, you need an in-house RevOps team comprising trained sales reps, engineers, and product marketers to offer top notch customer service. 

4. Trials and Demos: The Cornerstone of B2B SaaS Engagement

Offering trials and demos to potential customers is one of the most popular and (one of the fastest) methods of engaging potential customers and driving conversions in the B2B SaaS space. Given the complexity of a SaaS product, this helps potential users go through the platform and check if it works for them. This choice is rooted in the complexity of SaaS products, which demand a deeper understanding than what a sales page can offer.

SaaS businesses that embrace this sales model, usually offer two types of trials:

  • Self-Serve Trials: In this, a seamless signup process grants immediate access to the software. This approach surely fills the lead pipeline, but can lead to an influx of users who never truly engage with the product.
  • Manual Trials: This trial method involves a demo or a consultation with a sales representative. This way the SaaS company can not only introduce the users to the product but aids them in initial utilization.

Surefire SaaS Sales Strategy to Drive Maximum ROI

Your journey towards creating an effective SaaS sales strategy begins with choosing the right  sales model based on your product's nature. As we’ve discussed before, your options include the self-serve sales model, transactional sales model, or enterprise sales model.

Initiate with a customer self-service model if you are at the early-stage of your SaaS startup, keeping your options open for transactional and enterprise sales as your business expands. Here’s how you can create an effective sales strategy for your SaaS product: 

1. Define Target Audience and Craft a Value Proposition

Identify your target audience through well-defined buyer personas and outline their challenges. Employ the ‘Target Audience, Problem, Solution, and Value’ format to concisely offer your SaaS product’s value proposition:

  • Target Audience: Whom do you serve?
  • Problem: What issues do they encounter?
  • Solution: How does your product address their challenges?
  • Value: What benefits and outcomes customers see from using your SaaS product?

2. Set Qualification Criteria for Prospects

Establish clear sales qualification criteria to focus efforts on valuable prospects. You must avoid pursuing unqualified leads to maximize sales team efficiency. Equip your sales reps with tailored lead qualification questions to identify qualified prospects based on your ideal customer profile and buyer personas.

3. Develop a Comprehensive Sales Playbook

At this stage, you need to create an all-in-one sales playbook for consistent approaches across your organization. Curate the sales playbook with email templates, call scripts, sales closing techniques, and industry insights. Equip sales reps with the necessary tools (such as a sales engagement tool like Smartlead) to engage and nurture prospects effectively for closing deals faster. 

4. Establish Tangible Activity and Revenue Goals

Define sales quotas and month-on-month sales goals for your sales reps. Provide focused objectives to empower sales teams for the company's benefit such as product training and 

Utilize volume quotas (e.g. 50 premium subscriptions per month) and profit quotas (e.g. $25,000 in quarterly revenue).

You can measure sales activity through phone calls, emails, meeting bookings, LinkedIn connections, and more.

5. Build a Strong Customer Support Program

Customer support plays the most important role in customer retention. Develop a robust customer support program to enhance product adoption. You can utilize customer feedback to improve the product and encourage positive word-of-mouth.

6. Monitor Sales Performance with Key Metrics

Track essential sales metrics to assess performance and adapt goals as necessary to scale your SaaS business. Leverage sales automation software, such as Smartlead, to streamline metric monitoring and scale your outreach. 


In summary, SaaS sales is the gateway to modern software solutions. It lets businesses access and utilize software online. With Software as a Service, you can address your needs effectively. It's not just about selling – it's a partnership that offers flexibility and scalability. SaaS sales pave the way for better operations and growth. As technology advances, SaaS sales continues to play a vital role in shaping a more efficient and innovative future for businesses.


1. What are SaaS customers?

SaaS customers are individuals who make choices about which of your services and subscription tiers best match their needs, budget, and expected benefits. There are no intricate contracts involved, and all services are typically offered in a consistent manner.

2. What are the different types of SaaS customers?

There are three types of SaaS customer categories: trait-focused, requirement-driven, and value-oriented. When you blend these aspects with your product analysis, you gain a comprehensive understanding of your top-tier customers. With this insight, you're prepared to establish a strategy aimed at enhancing their satisfaction and boosting their loyalty.

3. What is considered SaaS sales?

SaaS sales refers to the process of promoting and selling web-based software solutions known as Software as a Service (SaaS). In SaaS sales, companies offer software applications through online platforms that customers can access and use over the internet. This sales approach involves showcasing the benefits, features, and value of the SaaS product to potential customers, guiding them through the decision-making process, and ultimately securing subscriptions or contracts for the software service. The goal of SaaS sales is to address specific business needs or challenges by providing efficient, scalable, and easily accessible software solutions.

4. Is Netflix A SaaS?

Yes, Netflix is a SaaS company that offers a subscription based video watching platform. 

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Author’s Details

Sattwik Das

Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at Smartlead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.


Edited by:

Charu Mitra Dubey


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