How is selling SaaS different?

Selling SaaS differs from selling traditional software. While both involve gaining a customer's trust, the SaaS buying process is much more transparent and predictable.

How is selling SaaS different?

Selling SaaS can be a very different experience than selling traditional software. The two have many differences, and they make up the core of what it means to sell SaaS.

Goals are different

SaaS is a subscription business, whereas traditional software is sold on a pay-per-license model.

SaaS companies focus on getting customers to sign up for subscriptions and renew them. As opposed to the traditional software business, where you sell one license at a time, you need more consistent revenue to keep your company going without raising capital.

Up-sells and cross-sells are different.

First, SaaS companies need to sell more than just the initial product, adding upsells and cross-sells into their sales cycle. For example, if you're selling a white-label CRM platform to other businesses, once you get them signed up for the core product (your CRM solution), you might offer them additional modules such as marketing automation or workflow management. Or maybe they want help getting started with customer success management so they can proactively manage customers rather than reactively handle customer issues after they arise. Your job is not just selling one product but also offering additional products or services that complement your core offering and make it easier—or even possible—for your customer to succeed with their business objectives.

The sales process is different.

The SaaS sales process is different in several key ways. Let's take a look at the three most important differences:

  • The sales process is more consultative. Because you're selling to organizations instead of individuals, your role as a rep has shifted from being an order-taker to one that focuses on identifying needs and then matching them with the ideal solution. When you're meeting with prospects, you need to be prepared with more than just information about how great your product is—you also need to understand their company challenges and pain points to help them get where they want to be.
  • The sales process is more complex. With SaaS products, many moving parts must work together seamlessly for customers (and reps!) to get value out of it—from onboarding, and new users through training sessions or webinars, setting up workflows; integrating into other systems like CRMs; etc. Questions like "What are some challenges specific departments face?" will help identify potential issues within an organization before they arise later down the road when things aren't working as planned due to a lack of communication between teams working across multiple departments within large companies (elevator pitch).
  • The sales process takes longer because conversations happen over time instead of all at once during one meeting, allowing both parties to communicate their needs clearly without feeling rushed"."

Support is different

Understand that support is critical for SaaS businesses. Do not treat it as an expense; in reality, it's one of your most important assets and should be treated as such.

You need a team that can provide a great customer experience without compromising on the quality or speed of service. This means being able to answer questions and solve problems quickly—and if you are doing this manually, you need enough people on your team so that no one person has their hands full 24 hours a day. You also want someone who knows how to handle customers' concerns respectfully and effectively—and not just because it's the nice thing to do; this will help ensure repeat business from those same customers!

Forecasting is harder

Forecasting is more complex when you're selling a subscription. It's more challenging because the customer relationship is different, and it's more complicated because you don't get the same feedback from customers as you would if they were buying something on a one-off basis.

Some of this comes down to how much usage your product gets in a month, which can be hard to predict. Subscription-based products tend to be used less than non-subscriptions: users only need them for one thing, each month or year, or perhaps they only use them occasionally when they need that particular feature. For example: imagine an accounting app (like Quickbooks) vs. a bookkeeping service where an accountant visits your office once per week and does taxes for you (as well as other financial advice). The latter may not require yearly software upgrades. However, there are still likely some new features that come out every year, which could cause people who use those services all year long (and thus pay monthly) to buy new versions of their software each year rather than upgrading annually at once like most businesses do with payroll packages like Intuit's TurboTax Deluxe edition since these services provide significant value over time by making sure customers have up-to-date information about their finances throughout the year instead of just during tax season!


This post has looked at some of the significant differences between selling SaaS and traditional software. The biggest takeaway is that selling SaaS is not about selling software but about helping people solve problems. In many cases, this means building a relationship with your customer over time and earning their trust by providing them value before even asking for money in return. You need to be able to answer questions like: "What problem does my product solve?" or "Why should I buy from you now instead of later?" If you can do those things successfully, it will be much easier for your customers to make that final decision when they are ready!