Breakthrough SAAS Positioning

Going Beyond Buyer Basics

Breakthrough SAAS Positioning

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What makes a B2B prospect buy? It’s an age old question, but we’re beginning to get answers about the real drivers for B2B decision makers. A Bain/HBR study developed something called the B2B elements of value, that ranks the values that drive decision makers’ purchases. The researchers use a pyramid to visualize these rankings.

B2B Values Pyramid – The Fundamental Group

At the bottom of the pyramid are these you have to consider as table stakes. Does the solution meet the required specifications? Is the price acceptable, etc. As you move up the pyramid, you get more benefits-oriented values, and more personalized values until you reach the top of the pyramid – inspirational values. Factors that connect with a buyer’s purpose and appeal to their vision.  One big takeaway from the article pops out to u

Recognizing the full range of both rational and emotional factors behind business purchases—and tailoring the value proposition accordingly—is critical to avoiding the commodity trap."

Too often, B2B companies keep their positioning and messaging squarely focused on the bottom of the pyramid. The rational, “table stakes” values of their offerings. If all you’re doing is explaining the functionality of a product “Managed Detection and Response” or the category you’re in “Hybrid Cloud Security and Compliance”, you will not break through the clutter of competing offerings.

To arrive at these more inspirational values, B2B companies must get to know their prospects much more deeply. Less about their job function and more about their needs, worries, dreams and aspirations.
How do you get to know your buyer better? How do you get deeper into their minds so your SAAS positioning will resonate? Here are 3 tips on getting to know them better.

1. Get insights beyond the sales call.

Every client we meet tells us they know their prospects. They talk with them all the time, or once in a while, or they just did a survey. But when we dive deeper, we end up in the shallow end of the prospect knowledge pool.

The most common scenario has most/all prospect insights coming from sales calls.  We love a good salesperson. They’re excellent at discovery, understanding pain points and identifying needs. Salespeople drive toward a specific solution to close a deal – that’s the nature of the beast. They’re not focusing on how to get people into the call in the first place. SAAS Positioning resutls from talking to people at the top of the funnel – not to a sales-qualified lead. The insights gained from these folks won’t necessarily be the ones that help turn unqualified leads into qualified. 

Talking with prospects outside of the sales context lets you dig deeper, and develop a fuller understanding of the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats your customer or prospect experiences in their job.  They may have a much bigger problem than the one you’re solving. There may be a shift in the marketplace that’s requiring them to rethink your category (like a recession). In general (and this is a general statement because we do love our Salespeople) they don’t have the time, patience or the opportunity to go on open-ended fact-finding missions.

It’s not enough to do the occasional check in with sales, you need to regularly take the pulse of prospects and their market. It’s not enough to run a survey. Surveys can tell you the headline, but they don’t tell you the story. You need to have good old-fashioned interviews with prospects. Conversations that go deep on their needs, their role, their challenges and their aspirations.  Devoid of any hint of making a sale.  This is often where the big A-ha’s are found. The moments of revelation and clarity. They are willing to open up and discuss their role, their organization and their challenges in a way that allows probing, parsing and conversation. That’s how you discover the big insights that you can use to connect viscerally with prospects and more clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors. You begin to create an affinity for your organization, your product, and your solution.

2. See Buyers in Their World

Something SAAS companies can easily miss is the way prospects view their role – or how their role is viewed within the organization, and how this can impact SAAS positioning and pitch. Some roles, like CFO or CMO, are well-established within the company. This target prospect has the respect of the organization. In this case, positioning your product as something that has game-changing potential can resonate with the prospect.

In other cases, the role has less impact, even less immediate credibility.  It may be a newly established position or department that isn’t well-understood by the rest of the company. You cannot promise that your solution will have a huge company-wide impact if the representative of that contract still has to remind everyone of their name when they enter the room.

The promises YOU make must be the promises THEY can keep. If it’s too grandiose, they’ll immediately dismiss it with a “They don’t get me.” And they’ll be right. Understanding is the first step to empathy – and that’s what prospects want.

Identifying, understanding and addressing these prospects based on the context of their role in the company allows you to improve outbound messaging dramatically, and your efforts might be the start of a beautiful relationship.

3. Focus On The Person, Not Your Product.

In SAAS, we love our products, don’t we? The things they do are cool and exciting. And do you know how hard it was to develop it? We want to talk about how well they do the things we set out to do.. Isn’t it great that you can handle a bigger volume of invoices, or automate a tedious process? We can’t help but shout it from the rooftops. Unfortunately, that’s not how prospects see things.

Where you see the value as automating the process, your prospect sees the value of being freed from that process. SAAS positioning must glorify their outcome, not your process. The prospects’ constituents feel the value of less tedium. Not having to spend time, energy and resources gives them to ability to do something much more valuable. 

For example, a client of ours in the integration space was focusing on the speed and efficiency of their solution – you could integrate apps faster and easier! Who wouldn’t want that? When we talked with prospects, that was just the tip of the iceberg. (or the middle of the pyramid) The real value came from NOT having to integrate at all!  VP’s of Product hated having to use precious developer bandwidth to create and manage integrations. They wanted developers to work on new features and visionary, game changing innovations. Being bogged down with integration was draining their ability to do the important stuff. And the developers HATED being pulled off the cool product development initiatives to fix integration work they saw as dull and tedious. Oh, and guess what? This solution all led to the fact that they could keep their star developers happy. Which meant they stayed. Which meant they didn’t answer calls from Google or Meta.

There was a big morale benefit to keeping devs engaged with the work they loved. That was the value proposition that resonated – automate the integration so you can focus on driving innovation. Give them the dream, not the drudgery.

Not having this depth of knowledge about customers is farily common in SAAS positioning, in our experience – and for good reasons. Prospect conversations are viewed as time-consuming, difficult to arrange and costly. (Although they don’t have to be!). The question organizations need to ask is “What’s the opportunity cost of NOT understanding their customers?”

How expensive is it to give BDR’s scripts that don’t get meetings? Arming reps with demos that don’t close deals? How much is site conversion or lead gen suffering without a compelling positioning? If you can’t dimensionalize the prospect’s journey, your efforts will jump the shark faster than the worse streamer on NetFlix.

As the economy slows, as competition increases, you can’t afford to be stuck at the bottom of the pyramid, trying to win deals by touting the table stakes, functional values of your prospects. You can’t be mired in the mundane. Leave the table stakes on the table. That’s what everyone else is doing. It’s time to get personal and discover how you can be inspirational. 

How do you get deeper customer insight? Tell us in the comments.

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