Lead Generation For SAAS Companies

SAAS (Software as a Service)

SAAS (Software as a Service) based solutions have been gaining popularity lately as buyers move away from complicated, time & resource consuming implementations. The popularity of SAAS products can be largely put down to the following factors:

  • Lower upfront cost (pay as you go).

  • Quicker setup or deployment.

  • Flexibility in picking relevant features & modules.

While SAAS products have gained popularity, SAAS businesses in India, especially the ones catering to small and medium scale enterprises have found it difficult to scale operations sustainably compared to similar organizations globally. On close examination, we found that online lead generation for B2B SAAS businesses is not as effective in India. Such businesses globally rely on a set pattern of using online channels for SAAS lead generation, free trial on signup, driving early usage during the free trial, eventually following it up with a demo of the paid product for heavy users.

While this has worked well in western geographies, the same funnel hasn’t worked well with Indian buyers for the following reasons:

Online leads do not capture the user of the product

Unique to India in some ways is the phenomenon that the person searching for the product is usually not the primary or even the secondary user of the product. On evaluating the lead generation for SAAS companies, we realised that a junior person on the client-side is tasked with finding & evaluating options for the said need in the organization. While this still is an entry into the organization, you are then required to traverse the entire buying hierarchy like traditional businesses. Also, the person doesn’t usually end up using the trial/demo as desired.

Online campaigns are evaluated based on the wrong metrics

Online campaigns are usually outsourced to digital agencies following traditional metrics like cost per impression, cost per click or cost per lead. While such campaigns typically start with a well-defined audience & messaging, these are usually diluted to improve the click-through rates or cost per lead/click numbers. This invariably leads to clickbaity ads (videos & discounts would be the most common suggestions from your digital agency) which result in more leads but significantly deteriorate lead quality. Existing evaluation metrics do not work well for B2B SAAS lead generation.

Buyers are not as comfortable with DIY tools

Another unique aspect of SAAS products globally is the ability of the user to configure the product for themselves and take it for a spin to experience the product. In Indian B2B sales funnels, we see a huge drop off at this point – from registrations to usage. Why could this be? On talking to several users who’d signed up for the product but did not use it, we came across the following major buckets:

  • The person evaluating was not the primary user, and was only looking for prices to pass it on. The person had no incentive to try the product and explore the features. In several cases, the person was just a commercial buyer who hadn’t used similar products in the past.

  • Several B2B SAAS products based out of India do not have a seamless freemium product experience. An unusually large number of SAAS companies do not even have a freemium offering!

Recurring online payments have still not found traction in Indian Businesses

SAAS businesses globally rely on recurring online payments. In India however, recurring online payments haven’t gained traction in businesses. This has led to Indian SAAS businesses insisting on upfront payment for 6 months or a year, thus nullifying their inherent advantage of being a pay-as-you-go model.

Some of these challenges will take time to overcome as buyer’s mature. There are, however, enough opportunities for SAAS based businesses to improve their B2B sales funnel.

Recommendations for SAAS based B2B Businesses

Some of these challenges will take time to overcome as buyer’s mature. There are, however, enough opportunities for SAAS based businesses to improve their B2B sales funnel.

Invest in and measure free trials & freemium models

For SAAS businesses, it is imperative to have a freemium model that induces trials. However, Indian SAAS companies have largely not leveraged this in their go-to-market approach, specifically for B2B lead generation. If you are a SAAS based solution provider, the first thing you should do is create a seamless freemium experience for B2B lead generation.

Online B2B lead generation using LinkedIn and other similar platforms

Outbound lead generation using platforms like LinkedIn has proven to be extremely successful for SAAS based companies. Unlike online advertisements, these channels allow you to specifically target the buyer profile that is most likely to buy your product. It also allows you to present your product with lesser restrictions on the word count and the type of content.
At SDI, we generate B2B leads globally, exclusively using social selling on platforms like LinkedIn.

Our Fee is Performance Linked If you are at a stage where you’d like to explore B2B lead generation for SAAS products, you can find out more about our services here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the channels for b2b saas lead generation?

Unlike B2C companies, B2B saas based businesses have relatively limited options when it comes to lead generation. B2B SAAS based lead generation can be broadly categorised into online and offline.

Offline channels for B2B include participation in industry conferences, meetups and publications in industry journals or mailers to industry associations.

Google ad-spend has been the most popular online medium for this. However, some businesses especially ones targeting SMEs and retail clients also find other social platforms like facebook, instagram etc. useful. Linkedin is the preferred platform for enterprise lead generation. There are various ways you can generate leads on Linkedin including ads, sales navigator, inmails etc. Online channels also include using industry databases for cold calling & emailing.

2. How do you generate SaaS leads?

We’ve executed and evaluated most of the above mentioned channels for . In our experience, platforms like Linkedin provides the most reliable, scalable and cost effective way to generate B2B leads consistently.

3. What sort of leads can I expect through outbound lead generation for saas companies? How would it compare to my inbound leads?

We start our campaigns by clearly identifying your target audience. For example, if you are an organisation providing financial solutions, you might want to target CFO or VP finance profiles from large companies, say with more than 1000 employees or with a certain revenue. You might also have a certain industry focus based on your existing clients: for eg. Consumer goods, ecommerce etc.

Through outbound lead generation you can ensure that you have conversations only with people specified in your target market. With these parameters you can be sure that you are talking to the right people in the right organisations. Before you speak, the prospect has also had a chance to glance through your offering. Her willingness to speak after having done so indicates a high degree of interest. One caveat though: Outbound lead generation does not assure buy ready leads looking for immediate purchase. They might well be in their initial stages of purchasing with the actual purchase happening a few days or even weeks later. We’ve explored this topic in detail .

4. How is lead generation for SAAS different?

It varies slightly from conventional lead generation in two primary ways. One, since the offering is usually cloud based, buyers are more likely to explore it over a video call through a demo rather than a physical meeting. Secondly given that most SAAS companies usually have a premium model, it is easier to get the prospect to try out the offering themselves.

These two differences provide a significant advantage to saas businesses when it comes to outbound lead generation. We typically see SAAS businesses perform 20-30% better in outbound lead generation than their conventional counterparts.