How to test your SaaS B2B product hypothesis in the most effective way? In our previous article, we described how to minimize the risks of failure during a startup launch. As soon as your product is launched successfully, it’s time to attract its first customers. For this reason, we are going to unveil some of our best practices in digital marketing.
Prospecting and Lead Generation Find new clients and validate the hypothesis - Prospect hunting - Lead generation - Prospect Hunting Tools - Lead Generation Tools - Setting up a campaign Lead generation campaign checklist - Target audience - Feedback analysis - Campaign settings - Campaign language When does your SaaS B2B really need outsourced marketing services? - There is a product, but few hypotheses - There is a hypothesis, but insufficient resources Conclusion
In this article, we only discuss basic definitions and concepts. Our goal is to give a general understanding of the digital sales workflow in the B2B segment.
Prospecting is a continuous sales development process to identify and attract new customers. Its goal is to turn prospects into real clients (or partners) through direct active reaching out (such as emails and calls).
Lead Generation is a planned digital marketing process. It is aimed to determine and stimulate lead’s interest in your product, as well as increase your product awareness among potential customers.
An important step for both processes is qualification. This is a preliminary collection of data about a potential client (their pains, values, purchasing power, etc.) and a general assessment of whether a deal could be signed. The proper qualification gives a better understanding of how much time and resources you can invest in certain contact. In other words, it is the key to the effectiveness of your sales team.
We have developed several standardized marketing workflows that could help to test your hypothesis in B2B and find your first customers. Our marketing workflow consists of two stages:
Here it’s important to determine:
Who is your target audience? In other words, who is the person that decides to buy your product? What is their position in a company and what we must know about that company (industry, number of employees etc.)?
Which online platforms does your target audience attend and how to reach them?
What should your killer messages look like so a person who is reading them is totally convinced to answer?
At the same time, it’s important to never forget that SPAM is a very bad thing. It can cause a domain ban. Poorly written and annoying messages can hurt your company’s reputation. Be wary that any of your prospects can end up writing a negative comment or submitting a claim to your hosting provider.
This is where you need to provide your targeted prospects with the relevant offers and convert them into leads with the intent to buy. At this stage, proper qualification and your response time are very important.
Now let’s take a look at a set of tools that would allow you to do effective prospecting and generate leads.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator — It is one of the best online resources for B2B prospecting. This is a paid extension to LinkedIn and if you know who your potential client is, it significantly simplifies your search. Using many built-in filters, the application allows to create separate lists of prospects. This means you can test your product hypothesis for different target audiences in different countries at one time.
Here’s an example of how the criteria can be set for an organization. The company size is less than 50 people. The location is Central Europe. The field of activity is ‘children’s online education’. In the same way, the criteria can be set for a single person: position, company, industry, etc.
There are numerous lead generation solutions on the market. In general, data generation occurs through the parsing of open sources on the Internet. If a person left his email somewhere, for example, registered for a conference, then the parser will pick up the email and compare it with the database on LinkedIn. We often use GetProspect and Norbert.
All the software solutions that we consider in this article strictly comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and use only open data to generate any information about prospects.
We use QuickMail as a cold email automation tool that also allows you to send emails with changeable content, automated follow-ups, manageable email sequences, and customized reports on campaigns.
The whole process can take weeks – from creating a new hypothesis to testing it and getting the first results. In order to optimize this process, we developed an automated workflow using low-code / no-code. Accordingly, we used Zapier or Make (ex Integromat) to integrate described above services and make them work together as one continuous workflow.
Using such a kind of automation can significantly simplify the testing of new hypotheses. As a result, you could do it just in a few clicks with no need of software development.
• Set your criteria in LinkedIn to compose a prospects database.
• Proceed (automatically or manually) the data from the database to an email parcer to get a list of the contact’s verified emails.
• Contacts within Zapier are forwarded to cold email software.
• Cold email software sends emails.
• If there is a reply, a new lead will be automatically created in your CRM through an API and your sales team will be notified.
Such workflow automation can save your marketing team hundreds of working hours per month. It can also minimize human factor mistakes and, as a result, reduce your lead bounce rate. As an additional benefit of the cold email software, you have fewer “dead” emails in your database because of a built-in verification tool. Also, you have less chance to be banned by a hosting provider because you can set safe email sending delays. These kinds of things are difficult to manage manually.
At each stage described above, there are multiple threats and nuances. Ignoring them can lead to unpleasant results, so here are a few details that you should pay attention to.
If you didn’t get to determine your target audience correctly, you will probably face:
In a good case — loss of your time and money on irrelevant audience
In a bad case — negative feedback
In the worst case — a report to your hosting provider about unsolicited emails
“But the worst thing that can happen is that the founder’s motivation decreases, and as a result, they doubt the business idea itself.”
Founder of WB—Tech
Avoid uncertainty in such matters as:
• Understanding your target audience portrait
• Correct segmentation of your audience (industry, location etc.)
• Determining the key decision makers — people who will sign a deal with you
For example, you created a great email sequence but you made a mistake in target audience determination. As a result, your creatively designed email sequence would be useless because the campaign would reach irrelevant stakeholders with no interest in your product.
If you couldn’t interpret correctly your first feedback from your leads, you’re at risk:
In a good case — you may reach out to this contact in a couple of months with an actualized offer
In a bad case — this contact is lost for you. But you can try to find another decision maker in this company because you already know that your product could be interesting to this organization.
In the worst case — you are banned from the company and no one there is going to deal with you ever again
“Our goal is to reach out to people who have ‘pains’ relevant to our solutions. This is a great reason to start a constructive dialogue. No matter how it ends, it will be definitely useful for us.”
Many people miss the opportunity to improve their cold emails by not considering feedback from their leads. But you should use this feedback to determine how to update your messages. For example, the target audience is defined correctly, but the message does not discover the value of the product.
It is also worth taking into account the speed of response to the messages.
If you did some mistakes in setting up your campaign, you could have the following risks:
In a good case — it just won’t work. You’ll see the error and fix it.
In a bad case — react in time and fix the error before hundreds of people receive the wrong emails at a wrong time
In the worst case — you will not notice the error and send the wrong mailing list to the entire database. Thus, you will lose the opportunity to contact this database again and ruin the mail reputation of the domain from which the emails were sending.
Setting all your cold mailing tools to work properly is not a piece of cake and the risk of errors is high. Meanwhile, you don’t have a lot of room for mistakes. Even if you think that the market is very big, cold prospecting involves hundreds of organizations and persons. In other words, people tend to end.
Of course, you can switch to prospects from another region or industry.
Most founders take their first international steps in English, but in certain markets, you can face the following risks:
In a good case — a prospect will understand that you are not local, but the product is interesting, and they’ll give you a chance
In a bad case — a prospect will understand that you are not local, and the product is still interesting. However, they won’t give you a chance because they would prefer to find the same local product.
In the worst case — no one will communicate with you or negative feedback would be provided. However, you won’t be able to understand if it’s because of an irrelevant product, or this is because of a mentality where only local language sales are possible.
For certain countries, digital marketing campaigns and sales in the local language are critical. For instance, in Latin America, you should use Spanish. If France, then it’s better to use French. At the same time, in DACH countries (an acronym that stands for D — Deutschland, A — Austria, CH — Confoederatio Helvetica, Switzerland’s official name in Latin) sales in the English language are welcome.
Testing hypotheses at first glance may seem a simple process, but in practice, it is not. In theory, most of the problems could be solved by an experienced marketer or a salesperson with the ability to work with marketing tools, write correct letters and communicate. In reality, the solution to all problems is possible only by continuous testing. So, you always have a choice to hire your own team to conduct hundreds of advertising campaigns or outsource it to the right agency.
Let’s look at a few examples where hiring a third-party team could be a good deal.
There is no marketer in the team and the target audiences of the product are not described properly.
This is a frequent issue that most of our clients experience. These clients are founders of working businesses. Usually, they want to test new audiences at a minimal cost. At the same time, there is no one in their team to generate and test marketing hypotheses.
A Marketing Hypothesis in the context of this article means an idea of a new market or a new target audience, which requires validation. For instance, we could assume that the product may be in demand for a certain company size (50-100 employees) or a certain stakeholder (Spanish-speaking C-levels). Further, you could find all kinds of such filtering in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool.
Using outsourced marketing allows not only to reduce costs and save resources, but also to win time and analyze the market in the shortest delays. For instance, in a month, it’s possible to generate a list of suitable hypotheses and validate or refute them. You can also obtain such important metrics as conversion and cost of customer acquisition (CAC). As a bonus, you can also receive feedback from the first leads, which is very important at the beginning.
A proven track record of validated hypotheses about the product demand in certain markets opens doors to VCs and new rounds for the development of your company.
The team has a marketer, but simply does not have time to do everything “by hand”.
For a startup at the stage of MVP (Minimal Viable Product), it’s very important:
to test as much as possible the marketing hypothesis for a better understanding of a market
to identify a target audience with the highest revenue and LTV (Lifetime Value — an average gross revenue that a customer generates during its lifetime, in other words, before they churn)
The hypothesis of a new market can be very different from the ‘product could be interesting to women under 30’ to the ‘companies that exercise a certain type of activity would need our services’. Also, when thinking about foreign markets, we could assume that demand in ‘region A’ (where you already have good sales) can be the same in the ‘region B’, where you’ve never operated before but their macroeconomy is similar.
The generation of hypotheses for SaaS B2B must be a permanent process in every startup. The founders should brainstorm and test it in the fastest and most cost-effective way.
In this article, we have unveiled an example of a simple workflow that we use to validate the hypothesis of our clients as well as our own. Keep in mind that processes may be much more complicated as each company could have unique marketing cases.
We hope that after reading this text, you will be able to set up and launch your own digital marketing campaign. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s not a big deal. Just contact us! We will gladly help.