What makes a sustainable SaaS business?

Is it all about the revenue or the number of active users?

While most organizations prioritize revenue and customers as their success indicators, it’s a steady flow of leads that matters most. Without it, they would be bogged down, unable to move forward and scale. 

And this is especially important for a growing business with scarce resources. 

In this article, we’ve decided to share 4 lead generation tactics that are guaranteed to bring you enough leads to get the ball rolling, even if your resources are limited.

But first, let’s see how SaaS sales work in general and what makes them different.

A look into SaaS sales: Specifics & popular strategies

SaaS, i.e. “software as a service”, is a delivery model in which a software product is hosted in the cloud environment and licensed to the customers who can access and use it via a subscription.

Most people deal with dozens of SaaS products daily without even realising it – from GSuite apps to Slack, Dropbox, or any CRM you might be using. Needless to say that it is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse industries out there.

How does a typical SaaS sales process work?

SaaS sales process might differ depending on the type of your product, its pricing model, and the size of companies you are targeting.

However, there are still some common steps most SaaS businesses go through in order to grow their customer base. 

ClickFunnels team has tried to deconstruct sales funnels of the three most popular SaaS companies. Based on their analysis, there are at least four steps any SaaS sales process should include:

  1. Awareness, when the leads are only getting to know your product via different online channels, including social media, content, paid advertising, lead magnets, etc.
  2. Engagement – any direct interaction with your brand, e.g. social touch, website visit, cold email response.
  3. Nurturing, for example, using retargeting campaigns, via follow-ups providing more information to help the lead make a decision.
  4. Conversion, be it a demo request, trial signup, or actual product subscription.

What makes SaaS sales different?

Aside from the specifics of the process itself, SaaS sales also require a different approach. 

Here are some of the distinctive features you need to know:

  • SaaS products might have several use cases so your audience can be pretty varied. That is why a successful SaaS sales strategy requires clear segmentation and precise targeting.
  • As a result, SaaS salespeople need in-depth knowledge of their target audience. Without a clear customer persona you won’t be able to properly position your product and engage high-quality leads.
  • Similarly, SaaS sales cycle doesn’t end with once the prospect converts. Your end goal is not to make a one-time sale, but to build a loyal user-base for your product. That is why sales role in SaaS companies is closely connected to marketing and customer success teams.

Where do SaaS companies get leads?

When it comes to lead generation, most SaaS businesses tend to bet on content marketing. And there are dozens of success stories to prove that it really works, take Hubspot or Mailchimp for example.

However, as the market is getting increasingly saturated, it might be challenging for smaller companies to break through the noise. To get heard by their target audience, SaaS businesses need outstanding content, and lots of it – a single blog post won’t get you to the top of Google search results.

As a result, content marketing works well, but only in the longer term and if you invest enough time and resources into it.

How to generate SaaS leads on a budget?

Despite the fact that 53% of B2B marketers spend half or more of their budgets to attract new customers, lack of resources, including monetary ones, is still one of the biggest challenges when it comes to lead generation. 

No wonder that most SaaS companies are constantly in search of the most efficient lead generation tactics.

If you are also looking to ramp up your sales efforts without breaking the bank, here are 4 strategies to consider.

1. Referrals

Referrals represent one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to generate SaaS leads. Even if you offer certain incentives in exchange for sign-ups, the cost per lead is one of the lowest among other tactics, especially considering that referrals typically have 50 to 70 percent close rate

Probably the best example of a SaaS business can benefit from referrals has been provided by Dropbox. The company managed to get over 2.8 million direct referral invites within 18 months.

In fact, 35% of all product signups still come from their referral program. 

Yet, there’s a downside of this tactic you should be aware of. Offering incentives to anyone who brings another customer to you might not be a good idea, since the quality of such leads might be very low. That is especially true for companies targeting a certain niche market.

In this case, the best way to get good leads through referral is to ask for one.

If your clients are really happy with your service, they will gladly advocate for your brand spread the word about it.

2. Co-marketing

As mentioned above, SaaS is a pretty saturated market. However, not all products are your competitors – there are dozens of tools targeting the same audience as you. And the chances are they might be struggling to generate leads too.

So why not join forces and help each other?

Co-marketing is a win-win strategy – you team up with other businesses that are working in related fields and promote their product in exchange for their help.

For example, we at Reply have built a number of strategic partnerships with other sales software providers that our audience might find useful.

Co-marketing example

This way we get to tap into their audience while also helping them build awareness among our clients.

There are many cross-promotional activities you can consider: from exchanging guest posts, co-organizing webinars, podcasts or offline events, creating content together, etc. You can even build a full-fledged reseller or affiliate program.

3. Social selling

If you think about it, there’s probably not a single SaaS business (or any business at all for that matter) that doesn’t have a social media presence. And it makes perfect sense: companies that invest in social selling typically get 199% better ROI

Be it social networks like Linkedin and Facebook or community websites like Reddit, they offer endless opportunities for lead generation. You can attract more prospects by sharing relevant high-quality content, engaging in meaningful interactions with your audience, or using direct outreach (which we will talk about later).

A less known community platform, Quora, is also a great place to get in touch with your prospects and expose your product to over 300 million monthly active users. A simple search might show you that there are people out there who are actively looking for solutions like yours. 

Quora Marketing Lead Generation

Plus, social media is a great place to get to know your audience: you can use platforms like LinkedIn for prospects or employ social listening tools to understand the global trends and tailor your strategies accordingly. 

4. Cold outreach

This strategy is the one our team has been using since the day one. And there are several reasons why you should try it too:

  1. It’s super-easy to get started with. All you need is Google and an email account. 
  2. It can be automated which means you will have more time to focus on engaged leads instead of doing manual follow-ups.
  3. Cold outreach is a scalable tactic, especially if you are using automation tools.

Our experience proves that cold outreach can also be pretty effective. Namely, an average response rate for our users is around 10-15% while the top performers get up to 28% replies.

Yet, outbound sales, especially in SaaS market, can be tricky. So, if you are going to give it a try, make sure to follow the cold outreach best practices, e.g.:

  • Segment your audience and tailor your messages accordingly
  • Develop a solid follow-up strategy
  • Connect with your prospects across multiple channels (which is a great way to combine cold outreach with social selling tactics mentioned above)
  • Track and analyze your performance to know what works and what doesn’t

And remember: cold outreach is not about making a sale. It’s also a great way to establish personal connections with the prospects and build awareness as long as you are offering value to the prospects.

Three ways to sell smarter

I am a big believer in the idea of working (and selling) smarter not harder. Regardless of the strategy you choose, there’s always a room for improvement – be it quality of the leads, your sales success rate, or the use of your resources.

Here are three ways to get the most out of your lead generation efforts:

Targeting. Know your buyer persona, regularly review and update it and tailor your sales tactics accordingly. Relying on a laser-focused strategy rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach is the foundation of success.

Analytics. Take the guesswork out of your sales process and put your data to work with sales intelligence. This can help you qualify and prioritize your leads so you can optimize your resources and increase your success rate.

Automation. Don’t waste your time on labor-intensive, routine tasks. Putting those activities on autopilot can improve the efficiency of your lead generation efforts and increase their ROI.


As 79% of the leads you generate might never actually convert into customers, getting more contacts into your CRM is just half the battle. If you can’t make those leads your loyal customers all your efforts will be in vain.

So, when it comes to lead generation it’s better to focus on quality rather than the quantity.

And that is another reason why you should try the listed strategies in your SaaS sales process. Sure, you can’t expect to generate thousands of leads through referrals or cold outreach. However, the listed strategies allow you to pick the best, most relevant prospects instead of trying to work through tons of low-quality contacts.

This article was contributed by Rimma from Reply.io.

Rimma is a Senior Digital Marketer at Reply.io with 4+ years of experience. She’s experienced in email & messenger marketing, on-page SEO and link building.


This article was contributed by a guest writer. Not affiliated with SkillsLab.

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