The short answer is YES. But, not for all industries/products/price-points.
Here are the criteria where you can/would succeed selling a saas product without a phone call:
- Your audience is tech savvy and have purchased similar products (possibly your competitors) without talking to someone.
- When the product has a lower price-points (less than $500/mo).
- You have a free trial if not a free version of the tool.
- Onboarding into your product is very robust – leveraging (at minimum) video tutorials, great documentation, and emails.
- You’ve spent time creating a personal brand for yourself and shown thought leadership in your space.
- Using a well-timed multi-touch approach to your cold outreach with very good copy.
Listen to the audio answer:
As you can see, I am mentioning more than just the emails themselves because getting someone to checkout your product’s landing page (the outreach sequence) is not going to be the challenge here. If you have these items in place, you can and should be able to sell your product at scale with automated messaging and not an inside sales team.
#1 – Your Audience
Who you are targeting can be the determining factor in whether you will need to call these prospects to sell them on your tool. An example of an audience you will probably have to call is restaurant owners. If your saas prospect is a restaurant owner/GM, you will probably have to use a phone call in your outreach. Another good example of an audience you will probably have to call is anyone in the home service or manufacturing industries.
In either of the above cases, they are tough to convert without a sales call because they are typically:
(a) not tech savvy,
(b) use to talking to someone about any purchase, and
(c) do not spend a lot of time online.
Conversely, you will have luck with cold messaging and non-phone-outreach only in more tech-savvy industries where the prospect is on LinkedIn often and use to getting most of their work done via email. A few good examples are recruiting, marketing, real estate, legal, consulting and financial services.
#2 – Price Point
My experience with SaaS at various price-points has taught me there is a limit to how expensive of a the tool you can sell with cold messaging outreach alone. So, if you are representing an expensive tool, you may have to rely on an inside sales team. But if your tool us under $500, and the rest of these factors are in your favor, you can surely sell it with a good outreach sequence. I believe the max monthly cost most would pay for a tool without ever talking to someone on the phone is around $495.
#3 – The Funnel
What I mean by ‘the funnel’ is your site from your landing pages through to your pricing page and finally your checkout screens. If this funnel is not optimized and inclusive of the features you need to convert cold traffic (credibility, trust, thought leadership, case studies, clear CTA’s and a value proposition…), then it doesn’t matter who comes into it and how great your emails are, prospects will leave.
#4 – On-boarding
When we say “sell” using cold emails alone… in certain cases prospects will be able to test out the product before buying. In this case, properly-on-boarding those free trial accounts is crucial. Again, I am assuming you have a free trial accessible through the site (not requiring a demo or someone on your team to setup their account).
When a prospect clicks through from your email with intent to try out your product, and you educate them on the features and how the dashboard is laid out in a specific manner so they feel comfortable using it on their own, and finally give them a built-out account to play with, the results can be prospects upgrading without having to speak to anyone.
To accomplish this thorough on-boarding, try out these two tools;
Digital Adoption Platform – Walkme allows you to create custom on-boarding experiences for each prospect type.
Customer Messaging Platform | Intercom – The chat and communication tool so you can make sure prospects and customers feel taken care of throughout the funnel.
Leveraging these tools can give you what you need to close business in an automated less-intrusive manner.
#5 – Thought Leadership
This is often overlooked by CEO’s of SaaS companies, but it is (in my opinion) the X factor in selling prospects before you have spoken to them. They need to trust you, and trusting you as a promoter of your product requires thought leadership.
How do you accomplish this? Well, for B2B SaaS companies, it requires answering a lot of questions on Quora, posting a lot of actionable advice and interviews with customers about their use cases on LinkedIn, and using your profile (being the CEO) in publishing content (not just your marketing department or product managers).
This will show your potential prospects you live and breathe what your tool does. You felt the pain points and now you have built something to solve for those. And most of all, this thought leadership shows you know more than they do about this problem. Which tells the prospect to trust you have built something to solve it.
#6 – Your Outreach
For ‘outreach’, I am referring to more than just email. I would suggest you practice lead nurturing starting with retargeting ads, then an automated LinkedIn impression (connection request, follow…), then a social message (Twitter DM or LinkedIn note), and finally a cold email sequence. But do not simply send an email sequence without having served them at least two other brand impressions first.
For more on nurturing leads at scale, read this answer…
Below are methods you can use to make sure your cold email sequence is getting read and replied to:
Getting Opens, AND Replies
In short, there are typically a few reasons why emails are opened but not replied-to:
- The subject line and body copy match, but they have been looking into it (via a click-through or a google search and do not like what they see).
- There are issues in the body copy – spelling/grammar, it’s too long, poorly written, sent from the wrong person inside the company, or sent to the wrong person at the company you are targeting…
- Or, it’s the first email you have sent them and they are purely curious, but your offer is not hitting it’s mark (bad audience).
Getting POSITIVE Replies
Reply detection exists in all cold-emailing platforms, but positive reply detection exists in the good ones… If you are receiving positive reply data in your cold email dashboard, I assume (based on your question) those rates are very low. On top of the above points, here are additional items needed to increase your positive reply rate:
- Open the conversation, do not ask for the sale or for some indication of interest to buy.
- If at all possible, send these emails from your founders email address (not their primary email).
- Always run a nurturing sequence prior to the first cold email (see the visual below from my presentation on cold outreach):
Here’s a short video on how to get more replies as well:
Getting Into Their Inbox
I made a statement recently to a bunch of CMO’s and heads of data at fortune 500 companies – “make sure your teams are not sending cold emails from the same platform they are sending their customer blasts.” The reason I said that is to ensure higher inboxing rates. Your bulk emailing platforms like Constant Contact, Yesware, Mailchimp, Mailjet, Sendgrid, etc… are not built for cold emailing. Here’s what you will need to get into an inbox:
- Sending through your email servers not theirs (Gmail, Microsoft…)
- Random delays in between sends to appear personalized.
- Matching the default font of the email provider it is sending to.
- Staying below your email servers’ daily/monthly limit (this varies based on your specific email – typically between 1500 and 5000/ mo).
I hope you learned something here.
Also, I have a managed cold email service if you are interested. We handle this for a select few every month. Here is the brief: https://right2revenue.com/fully-managed-cold-email-service/