Does your SaaS company have a tool that restaurant, cafe and coffee shop owners absolutely need to have? That’s awesome! Now comes the hard part:
How do you get these chronically time-starved, million-hat-wearing small business owners to actually learn about, try and sign up for your product? Perhaps you’ve been hanging out with other SaaS founders, offering helpful onboarding critiques, sending each other inspirational Medium posts and upvoting each other’s Product Hunt submissions. No shame there — being a startup founder is socially isolating and emotionally taxing — you NEED a community of people who’ve been where you been. But if your SaaS company is targeting small restaurants, coffee shop owners, hairdressers and the like, you’re probably finding out that their behaviors and preferences are nothing like this tech-savvy crowd.
Talking on the phone? They like it! In-person visits? The more, the better. White-glove support? They might actually expect it. Small business owners view their suppliers as partners in their success — and partners don’t take three days to answer a support email.
So, after you’ve found product marketing fit, how do you reach cafe and coffee shop owners at scale?
1. The list is life
To build an effective small business sales machine, you need to pour some high-quality fuel into the gas tank. And the fuel of any sales team is the list of prospects. For this reason, you want to find a high quality list that includes only the kind of small businesses that constitute your target market. This also means you have to get very specific about which kind of small businesses would be ideal customers for your SaaS. What size is the company, either in annual sales or number of employees? How long has it been in business? How many locations does it have? How large is the management team? The better your list, the better your results will be.
There exists an entire industry to compile and sell these lists to customers like your SaaS — but their quality varies widely. If you choose the wrong provider, you could end up paying thousands of dollars for a list that’s out-of-date and off-target. A better approach might be to find your own online source for for this info and then to hire a freelancer from Upwork, Fiverr or TaskRabbit to gather their contact info for you. If you think this info is hard to find, this slide from Anand Kulkarni of LeadGenius might change your mind:
2. Seek out unusual data sources.
The sources in the above slide are great, but by no means should you stop there. You may find many other great (FREE!) list sources once you dedicate yourself to looking for them. For example, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is the government agency responsible for the provision and regulation of liquor licenses to any business that wishes to sell alcohol in the state. Every month it publishes a list of the Texas bars and restaurants who have hauled in the largest amount of alcohol-related revenues. What a goldmine for any SaaS that wants to connect with the biggest restaurants and bars in the biggest state in the country! Most states or municipalities have some sort of licensing requirements for cafés, bars and restaurants and in many cases these lists are publicly available. Some good Google-fu will help you find them, and do be sure to take heed of their terms of service.
3. Phone calls may be just as important as e-mails
Yelp, Groupon, Yext and Foursquare are all trying to reach the same companies that you are with your SaaS. And e-mail is just one of the methods they used to grow their way to multi-million (in some cases, billion) valuations. They’re also dialing for dollars. To illustrate:
- On Glassdoor and on its company blog, Yelp’s sales reps mention making 80 calls per day.
- An interview with David Greenberger of Foursquare pegs their reps as making 150 calls a day. How many calls are you planning to make each day?
4. Think about the best time to reach your prospects
Try to anticipate the best time to reach your prospect on the phone by considering their opening hours, when they might be busiest and whether the need for pre- or post-work prep gives you an opening. If you’re trying to reach a coffeeshop, you’ll want to avoid the morning rush hours when the owner might be too busy serving customers and helping her staff. Instead, calling late in the afternoon might work best. On the other hand, you might be able to catch a restaurant owner while they’re doing their late morning prep before the first lunch customers arrive.
5. Use a script
There’s lots of debate on whether or not you should use a sales script for your calls. A script is a written document that you will have in front of you stating exactly what to say and when to say it. Here are a few valuable reasons why you should opt for one:
- Putting your words on paper will force you to make your thoughts crystal clear, which will make them more persuasive when you’re actually on the call.
- If you have never written a sales script before, you may approach it by doing some Google research which will give you a headstart on best practices. Here’s an excellent place to start.
- As you start using your script you will increasingly learn what works and doesn’t work, which will lead to your editing the script and truly optimizing it to get the best results.
- Finally and most importantly: if you have a grand vision for growing your business you will not be the person doing sales forever — you will ultimately delegate this to a team of people. Being able to hand them a script that has been customized and battle-tested for your business is part of the knowledge transfer that will make your hire and your company successful.
6. Keep your script simple
David Greenberger, head of sales at Foursquare, puts it best:
In local sales, you’re not calling up other tech companies or startups. You’re calling plumbers, coffee shops, and bars. In order to get through to them, you need to speak their language.[…] Don’t start a call by saying: “Ma’am/Sir, I’d love to talk to you about the solutions and optimizations that Foursquare has,” unless you like hearing the sound of prospects hang up the phone.
Instead, say: “Hey, do you have a quick moment? I thought this might be able to help you. Give me two seconds.” Keep things simple, and easy. Just get the conversation started, and see what sticks in order to close the deal. The closer you get to your customer’s level, the better.
In fact, consider doing what Yelp did and make sure you have some locally-focused small talk in your script.
7. Make sure your script has these essential elements
- What you will say if the person who picks up the phone is not actually the owner/decisionmaker. Some key things you’ll want to find out include:
- The name of the owner / decisionmaker
- When is typically the best time to reach them
- Whether there’s a mobile or other number that might be better for reaching them
- What their correct e-mail address is
- What you will say if you don’t reach a human but need to leave a voicemail
8. If you do get the decisionmaker on the phone and they have time to hear your pitch, be prepared to give them all the info they need to make a decision.
Due to their busy schedules, you may not have a chance to get them back on the phone again. So be prepared by having an easy way to show them a demo of your product during that first call. Want to go further? Here’s how to hack this:
- Create a secret URL with a landing apge that’s customized for that company. For example, if you are pitching to Denise’s Coffeehouse in Memphis, Tennessee you could set up a secret url just for them.
- After the call, include the URL in the follow-up email you will send.
- Then, set up an ad retargeting campaign that will appear to anyone who has visited that specific web page and make it highly customized for Denise’s Coffeehouse. Imagine if you could retarget them with an ad that said, “Find out more about how Our SaaS helps other coffeeshops in Memphis triple sales” while pointing this to a downloadable case study of how XYZ SaaS helped a similar business to do just that.
9. …But also be prepared for the case where the decision maker’s not very tech-savvy.
Chris Snell says it best:
This one really threw me for a loop; please understand that this is not at all a dig at the SMB market, but rather a word of caution to sales reps that sell into SMB’s. There has been many a business owner that my team has spoken with that does not have an understanding of simple technology. I almost fell off of my chair one day, when I heard one of my reps say to a business owner, “nope…you don’t need to spell out ‘backslash’, you can just use the backslash key.” Oh, there’s also the time one of my reps had to explain to a prospect that he could just type my company’s web address into the address bar instead of going to Google to search for it first, then click on it. “How else would I get there!?” he said, completely astounded. I’ve had my own experiences, too, like the time I had to teach an owner where the address bar was on a web browser. The stories are funny, and they’re not meant to be mean at all. One of the differences between calling SMB’s and Enterprise-sized organizations is that your reps need to be prepared to speak with folks that may not be as computer savvy. They may need to do some teaching at a basic level, and if you lose your patience with them, you’re going to lose their business, too.
10. Always follow-up
You may not reach the decisionmaker or owner on day one. Or they may tell you that they need more time to make a decision. For that reason, your first outreach should be just the start of an entire sequence of follow-ups.
Here’s one potential cadence, courtesy of Inside Sales:
And here’s Velocify’s take on why that matters:
Whether you’re selling to Starbucks to the smallest mom-and-pop coffee stall, you’ll soon find that sales is a marathon, not a sprint. But if you use the tips here, set aggressive goals and design a process for measuring your performance against them, you’ll succeed.