Buyer enablement: How to help SaaS buyers buy


Vendr | Together, better buying
Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
January 27, 2022
Read Time

Vendr | TwitterFacebook iconVendr | LinkedIn

Key takeaways:

  • Buyer enablement is a process that involves the buying organization and selling organization and includes practices that empower SaaS buyers to make important purchases. 
  • Active listening is perhaps the most critical and often underutilized step of buyer enablement. 
  • Use what you learned during the active listening to map out the customer's obstacles with relevant and practical solutions. Then, make your pitch. 
  • If the timing isn't right for one reason or another and the organization rejects your proposal, don't take it personally. Instead, use it as an opportunity to set your company apart. 

As a supplier, you know that most B2B buyers have many suppliers to manage and even more if they're buying SaaS. They're not just managing the B2B buying process; they're trying to stay on top of every supplier's pricing models, contracts, renewal terms, supplier relationship management, and more. 

If you've wondered what you can do to get your foot in a door that appears to be sealed shut, you're not alone. As technology buyers, hopeful sales teams often ask, "What can we do to help? If what we're doing to get your business isn't working, what will work?"

In this article, I'll answer that question in detail by discussing the importance of buyer enablement and share some insider tips that every supplier should be doing to empower SaaS buyers. 

What is buyer enablement?

You may be more familiar with the term sales enablement, so think of buyer enablement as the flip side of the same coin. You need the right tools and resources to sell, and buyers need the right tools and resources to buy.

At its core, buyer enablement is a set of practices that the buying organizations and sales organizations can deploy to support activities needed to make a purchase. Put more simply, you can incorporate these things as part of your B2B sales process that helps buyers buy.

Why is Saas buyer enablement so important?

When it comes to software, buyer enablement is among the most important things you can master. According to a McKinsey-Oxford study 66% of software projects go over budget, 33% exceed the agreed-upon implementation timeline, and 17% fail to deliver the buyer’s expected benefits. 

The reality of software failure, regardless of who or what is at fault, makes SaaS buying a complex and daunting task — further widening the gap between you and closing the deal. SaaS buyer enablement is undeniably critical to help buyers overcome the most likely obstacles they’ll face during the software evaluation process, implementation, and ongoing maintenance. 

4 best practices that empower SaaS buyers 

Buyer enablement: entrepreneurs discussing something

So, what can sales reps do to get their foot in the door and help close the deal? What can you do to support buyer enablement? 

After thousands of purchases and suppliers, as well as collaboration with other buyers, I’ve developed a list of four practical buyer enablement best practices you can begin deploying today. 

Ditch the pitch and listen 

You know your application inside and out, and you're confident it can help the potential customer even without hearing their needs. But if you go into your first sales meeting with this approach, the buyer will leave feeling sales pitched and unheard.

I left so many sales meetings feeling like no matter what I said to the sales reps in terms of organizational obstacles I was facing, they threw some sort of solution at me that wasn't applicable or even realistic to the situation. It was as if they had a script of "if the customer says this, you say this." But what buyers really want during their buying journey is to be heard, understood, and then partner with someone who can truly help them find solutions. 

Ditch the pitch and go in eager to listen. You'll come away with invaluable knowledge that your competitors won't have if you do. Here are some things you'll learn through active listening:

  • The customer's buying climate. Are they motivated to buy or reluctant to buy this software? This will impact your approach.
  • The customer's budget. You're not likely to walk away with a precise budget figure, but you will get a sense of whether or not they have a budget for this product. If they don't, you will need to prepare for an even more strategic approach because that may also mean they do not have leadership buy-in. 
  • The buyer's obstacles. It isn't uncommon for a buyer to have a stakeholder team split down the middle regarding who wants to buy and who doesn't. Or perhaps they don't have full buy-in from all necessary parties like finance, legal, and IT.
  • Purchasing history. Have they tried to make a similar purchase before? Why wasn't the purchase completed? This gives you intel on how to avoid the project failing again. 
  • Level of buyer enablement. Is there any internal buyer enablement? If the buyer is working in a climate that does not give them the tools, resources, and support they need to do their job, that's certainly an issue you need to be aware of. 

Identify the problem and how you can solve it

How does your product alleviate the buying organization's pain points? 

Now that you've done some active listening, you've come away with a solid idea of what problem or problems this organization needs to solve. Does your proposed SaaS solution solve some or all of those problems? How? 

One issue might be functional. For example, the organization manages a large customer base but doesn’t have a CRM solution in place. If you sell CRMs, your solution to this issue is quite simple. But, you won’t be the only supplier selling a CRM solution. What sets yours apart and how does yours specifically meet the organization’s needs in the short and long term?

But another issue might be culture. For example, suppose the buyer is managing a stakeholder team made up of people who do not want to change what they're currently doing. Software adoption can be a major challenge, especially if teams have been doing things manually for many years. How does your sales organization approach a customer's change management?

If the problem is a lack of budget or leadership buy-in, this will take an entirely different sales approach. 

Map it out. Connect the organization's obstacles with relevant information and present realistic solutions. Even better? Provide case studies of other customers with similar goals and how your sales team and SaaS product helped them take their operations to the next level. 

Make SaaS easy

Remember, as a supplier, you are probably living and breathing the application you're selling, and understandably so. But procurement agents and buyers are often tasked with being semi-experts on a wide range of products and services for their organization. They will not have the amount of time or resources to devote to your product that you do. So now that you've presented the organization-specific methodology, it’s time to focus on making decision-making easier for the buyer, the stakeholders, and the organization as a whole. 

From a buyer's perspective, I can tell you that I never selected a supplier because they called or emailed me daily to follow up. Instead, decision-making was usually based on how easy it was for my team to get the information they needed to learn the product and company intimately enough to feel confident in proceeding. 

Here are some questions your sales team can ask themselves to promote SaaS buyer enablement:

  • Is the information you've presented about your solution easy for the average person to understand?
  • If the stakeholders do a web search on your product, what will they find on your website? Ease of understanding the solution and add-ons? Case studies? Are there videos that are relevant to the customer? Is there an ROI calculator? Perhaps there are even some webinars potential customers can attend or product simulators they can try. 
  • Does your company do any content marketing through a blog? If so, does the content strategy focus on the appropriate target audience and relevant information to that audience? Does it relate to the actual pain points faced by the audience?
  • Are there user groups the potential customer can engage with?

Don't take rejection personally

This might be the most challenging one. Suppliers invest a lot of time and effort into selling their SaaS solution, and when you know, as a sales rep, that your product can drive major customer success, it can be difficult not to take rejection personally. 

Sometimes, your solution is a buyer's dream, and if it were up to them, they would have made the purchase yesterday. But it’s rarely up to them alone, and there are many other factors to consider. Maybe the budget isn't there. Perhaps the organization doesn't have the resources to manage its implementation or ongoing maintenance. Or, it's even possible that your product just did not meet the needs of the decision-makers. There are many reasons you may get a "no, thanks." 

Instead of taking it personally, use this as an opportunity to take your buyer enablement a step further. Here's how:

  • Acknowledge that you understand their reasoning and intend to be available when and if they decide to revisit the purchase. 
  • Take their product feedback and consider these for future developments and updates. If updates happen that the buyer suggested, send them a quick note to let them know. 
  • Invite them to user conferences. 
  • Make it a point to find them if you're attending other conferences together. 
  • Check-in with the buyer now and then, using a genuine and direct approach to ask how things are going, inquire if they ever made a buying decision, or to see if the situation has changed at all. 

Buyer enablement: Enabling buyers to buy and sellers to sell

2 people happily discussing something

It may sound cliche, but buyer enablement is a "help me, help you" approach for SaaS sales teams that works. Buyer enablement considers the human factors involved in the sales and purchasing processes. Understanding and being passionate about your product is vital, but so is catering your approach to the organization you're trying to gain as a customer. 

And don’t forget that your approach to buyer enablement must be fluid and adaptable as the SaaS market continues to rapidly grow and change. What SaaS buyers need a year or two from now may look entirely different than what they need now.

Set yourself apart from suppliers relying on pressure tactics by learning your buyer's journey and making it your mission to empower them to make the purchase. Vendr can bridge the gap between buyers and suppliers by expediting the sales cycle and approval process. Contact Vendr today to see how we can help you, help them.

Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

Similar posts

Learn more about finding, buying and managing your SaaS stack with resources from our experts.

Web Summit: Why nobody wants to buy SaaS from you – and how to fix it

Emily Regenold

Web Summit: Why nobody wants to buy SaaS from you – and how to fix it

Ryan Neu took the stage of the largest technology conference in the world to share a solution for a problem many of us have faced: how we buy software.

Read post