It seems like there are more startups than ever before that are selling software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. One of the challenges of B2B sales, which is especially strong for companies that sell software, is that you need to be careful with the way you approach your prospective customers. Some of the key selling points and sales pitches that you feel are most important to share might not be having the intended effect. In fact, some of your software-marketing messages might be scaring customers away.
Here are a few of the most commonly encountered B2B software-marketing messages that tend to scare customers, as well as how you can handle these situations better.
1. “Our solution delivers great ROI!”
Every business makes investments, but the word “investment” sometimes carries connotations of “requiring a big upfront commitment” or “won’t pay off for a long time.” Also, by declaring that your software delivers a great ROI, you might unwittingly be putting too much pressure on your prospective customer. They might not even know who you are or what you sell or why it’s important yet. Instead of emphasizing ROI, look for more low-key and tangible ways to talk about how your product can help customers improve their situation, whether it’s cost savings or increased productivity. Don’t scare away customers out of the gate by making them think about shelling out for a big investment in your software solution. It certainly needs to be discussed, but not right away. Your initial focus should be on how your solution will help them; pricing can come afterwards.
2. “Our solution provides full transparency into your business process!”
This is a tricky one. After all, who wouldn’t want to know more about what’s going on in their business processes so they can identify problems and generate efficiencies? Well, one of the dirty secrets of B2B SaaS sales is that many business-process owners actually don’t want transparency. They don’t want other people in the organization to know exactly how many invoices they’re processing, how many deals are in the pipeline or how productive they’re being. To C-level executives, transparency is a great selling point, but often not to the VPs and directors who manage those departments. Internal politics and turf wars can sometimes have just as much of an impact on your sales success as the actual merits of your product.
Handle this situation carefully, depending on your audience. If you are talking to the CEO or CFO, then sure, talk transparency. But if you are selling to a department head or lower-level manager who owns a particular business process that is more directly affected by your software solution, be prepared to talk more specifically about how your software can improve that person’s work life, without promising transparency that they might not feel is a benefit to them.
3. “Our software is fully customized!”
“Customized” might sound like a great selling point, but not every customer will agree. Oftentimes, there’s a setup and implementation process involved and extra consulting and integration expenses along the way. Not every customer wants all the bells and whistles; sometimes they just want a simpler solution that has been proven to work for other organizations in a similar situation.
If you begin by aggressively offering “fully customized” software, you might scare people off, because they might assume that you’re proposing a more expensive or complicated deal than they want or need. Be prepared to meet your buyers where they are; don’t assume that everyone wants the full package.
4. “Offering the newest, cutting-edge technology!”
This marketing message is meant to sound energizing and innovative, but it could also be scary, as "new" can often come across as code for "unknown" or “untested.” Some people love to be early adopters and take pride in working at the absolute bleeding edge of technology, but lots of companies aren’t so eager to push the limits. When you make a sales pitch about your “new, cutting-edge” tech, your customer might be thinking: "This software hasn’t been around for a very long time, and it’s unproven, and my neck is on the line if their solution doesn’t stand the test of time." A marketing message that was supposed to position your company as innovative and forward-thinking might end up making you sound like you’re too big of a risk.
This doesn’t mean you should downplay the aspects of your software that are really impressive and unique, but always talk about it in terms of what it can do to help the organization, not how amazing the technology is just for the sake of talking about tech. Not everyone will be receptive to that sales pitch, and it might even be counterproductive.
Whether you’re selling software or any other type of B2B solution, it’s important to know your audience and make sure that your marketing messages and sales pitches are accomplishing what you want them to accomplish. Sometimes, key selling points that sound great to the sales team might inadvertently scare customers away. By focusing on the needs of your prospect, thinking big-picture about the entire customer journey and being sensitive to the concerns of different stakeholders and decision makers within the organization, you’ll be more likely to keep everyone comfortable and build better sales relationships along the way.