Selling to non-technical SaaS buyers

The consideration and awareness stages of the marketing funnel for non-technical SaaS buyers is complicated.
Last Updated -
February 15, 2024
Tom Bruining
Founder, BSc of Computer Science & BComm
In this article

By this point, the definition of a non-technical SaaS buyer is a little blurry.

Most of the prospects and leads that SaaS vendors interact with are comfortable with subscription purchasing models and cloud based platforms.

There are some industry hold-outs, particularly where they are highly concerned with data privacy (Health Care and Legal for instance).

Non-technical SaaS buyers are typically individuals who hold operational roles.

These individuals are responsible for managing teams, overseeing workflows, or ensuring that the business is running efficiently - not necessarily evaluating and purchasing SaaS products that make their area of responsibility (AOR) more efficient.

They aren't likely to have a background in IT or software selection, and may not be familiar with the technical aspects of SaaS applications.

Most importantly though, they are the ones who will ultimately be using your software and are therefore critical to the success of any SaaS implementation. They often also hold the budget for these purchases.

Why they are challenging to sell to

The most important part of their day-to-day is ensuring that the wheels stay-on-the-cart and the business continues to operate effectively.

They will be delegating and participating in projects that push through improvements in their areas of responsibility.

Aside from a small-few, they aren't personally looking for the cutting edge technology that will facilitate improvements to their workflow. Rather, they are reliant on individuals and working groups within their team to assist in that selection process.

They care about the practicalities, not the technicalities

They are more interested in how the application will help them streamline their workflow or reduce costs, rather than the specific features or functionalities of the application.

This can make it difficult to communicate the value of the application and highlight its unique selling points. Showing value, quickly, to these users is extremely important, dropping them into an empty shell of your application isn't effective - they want to have the value your software delivers spelled out to them, rather than relying on their imagination.

An interactive demo using HowdyGo is a great way to educate non-technical operational SaaS buyers, because it lets you immerse them in a guided demonstration and add valuable context to what they are seeing.

They are more risk averse

Non-technical buyers can be more risk averse about things like data privacy and downtime. Take the dental industry as an example, many dental practices continue to have managed servers installed and maintained on their premises by Practice Management Software providers because they are concerned by downtime and lag.

These risks are hurdles, but not complete road blocks.

The best approach to jumping these hurdles is to mitigate the risks and instill confidence in your prospects. You can do this by having clear and understandable explanations of how your company mitigates them.

An example; Education organizations (Universities & High schools) value data protection and privacy. Having an ISO27000 certification and clear GDPR practices is useful outside of countries that require them by legislation.

The ability to say "Yes, we take data privacy seriously and adhere to GDPR and ISO27000 guidelines" is extremely effective.

You might not be selling directly to these individuals

Depending on your product, they may not be the people you are engaging with directly.

Operational SaaS buyers will often delegate roles and responsibilities significantly, particularly if the organization is relatively large. An established large-scale business might have an operational SaaS buyer who has as many as 8 different departments falling under their umbrella.

An example of this is the Education industry, Universities and High Schools will have a Provost, Head Teacher or Principal. In all cases, these individuals are typically dealing with a diverse array of priorities from many different sources:

  1. Departmental - Education focussed priorities
  2. Purely Operational - Finance, Student Wellbeing, Human Resources

In this selling environment, you need to figure out how you can inform and educate them without having a direct line of contact.

That doesn't mean they don't matter

In the case that you aren't selling directly to them, you have what is called an economic buyer - the person who holds the budget. Unfortunately, they are un-engaged and possibly only being made tangentially aware of your product through one of their colleagues or team members.

We have an article on Empowering Prospect Champions that explains in more detail how you can empower champions to help you close an opportunity.

You must ensure that the opportunities you have to educate these individuals is extremely effective and cuts right to the value proposition.

Focus on High Quality, Low Friction Collateral

You should look at the collateral you're sharing with your contact person within the organization and shape it to clearly articulate your value proposition quickly and effectively.

Remove any friction you can to make sure that they immediately see how good your SaaS product is.

If you're relying on them to sign up for a free trial, you've missed the boat. They might literally just want to make sure that the recommendation that's come across their desk from their team is easy to use.

A perfect example of this, a company that delivered digital textbooks to universities regularly worked with libraries and student services, the final check-point for each sale was typically through the Head of Department.

Delivering a single-link which dropped the person straight into a trial textbook and allowed them to view the interface from the student's perspective was all that was required to progress the deal. Identify what you can do to streamline these individuals having an "aha!" moment with your product - helping them immediately understand why their team sees the value in what you are offering.

Some tool recommendations for this:

  1. HowdyGo - A guided interactive product demonstration that shows and explains your product in a single package with no logins required.
  2. Qwilr - A digital proposal platform that helps you gather everything about your offering in one place. You can also embed an interactive sales sandbox directly into your proposal.
  3. Notion - An alternative to Qwilr is to send a private Notion page containing your proposal.
  4. A personalized sales deck - A simple PDF might be sufficient
  5. An executive summary - Depending on the organization, more established businesses may prefer a document detailing your proposal.

Industries that often have influential non-technical SaaS buyers

If you are in one of these industries, you may want to consider how you can educate the people you are working with more effectively during your marketing and sales processes:

  1. Education / EdTech
  2. Real Estate
  3. Construction
  4. Operations (Warehouse, Food Preparation, etc.)
  5. Trades
  6. Revenue Operations / Finance
  7. Manufacturing
  8. Not for Profits
  9. Logistics

There are plenty of other industries out there, and equally, not all organizations or people in the industries I've listed above are non-technical. But they will equally benefit from the improvements you make to your collateral.

About the Author
Tom Bruining
Founder, BSc of Computer Science & BComm

Tom Bruining is the co-founder of HowdyGo. In the past he was Head of Growth & Marketing at a B2B SaaS and Head of Data & Business Intelligence at HelloFresh, UK.

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