7 Effective Cold Prospecting Strategies For SaaS Sales

Marketing Mar 14, 2022 12 minutes read

Table of contents

    Are you sending 5-paragraph emails to stone-cold prospects?

    What about following up 5+ times in a week across multiple channels?

    Or, sending passive-aggressive emails just to get any sort of response at all? 

    There is no question that cold prospecting works and persistence can pay off. However, there are a lot of ways it can backfire, including the three examples listed above.  

    In this post, we’re sharing effective SaaS cold prospective strategies that will lead to more closed-won deals and fewer angry emails and spam complaints.

    Here’s what you’ll learn.

    Steps Involved in the Cold Prospecting Process 

    Before you can start doing any cold prospecting, you need to nail your sales messaging and identify your ideal customer profile (ICP). You should be able to answer the following questions:

    • What’s your SaaS’s main value prop? 
    • How does your product help your ICP? 
    • What sales enablement resources do you already have (or ones that need to be created) to help you sell to your ICP? 
    • What’s the sales cycle like? (i.e. key decision makers, time to go from a lead to a closed-won deal)

    The next step in the process is building your outreach list. This is sometimes referred to as data enrichment. That’s where you put together a big list of your ICPs, including names, email addresses, company information, etc. The best outreach lists also includes info about key gaps in your ICP’s process that you can leverage in your pitch. 

    Once your list is built, it is time to start reaching out to prospects. 

    According to our recent SaaS sales survey, email is a channel that 100% of our respondents use for cold prospecting.

    The second-ranked channel is LinkedIn at 87.10%. 

    Interestingly, more than half of our respondents said they are not using phone cold-calling or social media for cold prospecting.

    channels saas companies use for cold prospecting

    For added context on our survey, we reached out to 31 respondents. 70.97% of our respondents are SaaS companies. And, 29.03% of respondents are agencies or consultants working with SaaS companies.

    How Often Should a Prospect Be Contacted?

    According to our findings, the key to cold outreach success is in your follow-ups. Most will not buy on your 1st outreach. In fact, according to our research, more than half of the respondents stated their prospects need 3-4 continuous follow-ups before saying yes.

    contacting frequency

    However, there is a fine line between persistence and being annoying (or dare I say, going into full stalker mode!

    Following up with prospects should be spread out over the course of a few weeks. For instance, the majority of our respondents think that a prospect should be contacted no more than 1-2 times per week.  

    In addition, you should also consider the law of diminishing returns.

    So, if you’re getting radio silence after 4-5 emails, take the hint and move on.

    And, while you might be frustrated, in your “sales break-up email,” don’t resort to passive aggressive email copy. You might finally get a reply, but most prospects don’t buy from salespeople who insult them. 

    SaaS Cold Prospecting Mistakes 

    Oftentimes, even the best sales messaging won’t work. That’s because there are a lot of other contributing factors in place including the prospect’s lack of time to inspect the product and company inertia. 

    reasons not to buy SaaS

    While these two top reasons are outside of your control as a salesperson, there are some things you can do. For instance, our research shows that SaaS companies need to adjust their messages to be shorter and clearer. 

    7 Cold Prospecting Strategies for SaaS

    The most impactful thing you can do is have a clear, concise, and compelling offer that perfectly aligns with your ICP. However, here are some additional strategies you can use. 

    1. Personalize your outreach
    2. Add intent signals to your prospect list
    3. Use a narrative-driven approach
    4. Create an elevator script
    5. Reach out to multiple people in the organization 
    6. Start a newsletter
    7. Ask your existing customers for referrals 

    1. Personalize your outreach 

    This is cold prospecting 101. However, you are going to see more traction if you personalize your outreach, instead of sending the same canned template to everyone. 

    For example, Tim Stumbles of Office Timeline explains, “We use cold emails to generate new leads and customers. Cold emails are less intrusive, so they are a cornerstone of our cold prospecting strategy, helping us find new customers potentially interested in our services and our solutions. Besides, cold email prospecting is less time-intensive and can be done on a scale. We have several active outreach campaigns with leads segmented by pain points. 

    LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great place to start when you need to find prospects, learn about their company and their role within their company, and find their email addresses. 

    We also researched the prospects online to better understand their company’s needs and the challenges they might be facing. That allowed us to send personalized cold emails that addressed relevant pain points to grab our prospect’s attention, pique their curiosity in our solutions, and start a conversation about how we can help them. 

    Cold prospecting is not easy, and you’ll have to reach out more times than you think before a cold prospect will be ready for a conversation with you. So don’t give up – follow up with a call, leave a voicemail, send another email. Reaching out using multiple methods, you’ll have more chances to succeed.”

    2. Add intent signals to your prospect list 

    In fact, one of the best personalization methods at scale is to incorporate intent signals that tie back to your product. For instance, this might be going after unhappy customers, who are frustrated by the lack of a specific feature in a competitor’s product. You happen to have this specific feature and others they might like. 

    Other times, it might be finding intent data within your data enrichment list-building process. 

    “One of the cold prospecting strategies that work for us is taking the help of new tools such as ZoomInfo and reaching out to companies with intent signals that relate to our product,” says Chirayu Akotiya of Leena AI. “Through these tools, we receive lists of companies that require products like the ones we offer and then reach out to them. The outbound SDR team at Leena AI focuses on quality more than quantity and funnels out the most qualified leads to pursue. We research the lead as well before going into a conversation. This helps us connect with them and have great interactions even though they are cold calls.”

    This method of segmenting contacts by intent signals works. 

    For instance, Harriet Chan of CocoFinder adds, “Contact segmentation empowers with a way to learn more about each of our contacts and leads to ensure we can customize our pitches each time we cold prospect. The effect of utilizing this strategy at CocoFinder has been a 35% jump from 40% to 75% in new conversions in 2021.”

    3. Use a narrative-driven approach 

    In your messaging, rely on stories and emotion instead of cold facts. 

    “Story-Driven email outreach where we reach out to potential partners for sharing of resources (blog post, links, etc), which in turn, helps us build up our organic SEO and ranking,” says Jarie Bolander of The Story Funnel. “Our outreach has resulted in ~60% cold email open rate and an 8% reply rate. A Story-Driven approach means that we ensure that our overall brand story is clear, concise, and compelling so that whomever we’re outreaching to will want to hear more.”

    4. Create an elevator script 

    If you do cold-calling in addition to cold email, having a story-based, short script can improve response rates. 

    “I never thought I would have the courage to do cold calls but we have successfully learned to do it and at a much higher efficiency,” says Naren Patil of StartupWind, Inc. “For example, when I hired a telemarketer company, they were delivering us 1-2 meetings per week. When we started doing it ourselves, we started getting 2-3 meetings with one 90 minute cold calling session. 

    What works well is a clear well-written script that acts as your elevator pitch, identifying the right decision makers, ability to tell an aspirational story of another customer just like them, and just staying conversational and low pressure. The goal is to generate sufficient interest in 1-2 minutes to get a meeting. 

    The goal is not to sell your entire story to them. In that 1-2 minute call, telling prospects about a transformational story of a customer just like them and asking for a meeting to share a couple of more stories of other customers also generally gets you the meeting. What also works very well is running an effective marketing campaign, follow that up with a cold calling campaign (especially to those who are clicking on your offers in the marketing campaign) and then additional follow up with cold emails.”

    5. Reach out to multiple people in the organization 

    If your SaaS has multiple decision makers or multiple types of users who will be in the product, it is often helpful to send and tailor your outreach to multiple people in the company. 

    “At first, I was reluctant to share my secret approach to cold prospecting,” says Azman Nabi of Webisoft.  “I call it multi-persona outreach. Let me explain this strategy with the example of our own SaaS product that caters to elementary school teachers. 

    The elementary school teachers are the end-users of our product, and the schools’ administrating heads are the actual clients who hold the buying decision for our SaaS solution. 

    First, we ran personalized cold email campaigns to the prospects, who hold buying power for it (i.e. the administrating heads of schools). But most of them replied with “not interested”, because they weren’t willing to try the product. 

    Then we outreached to our targeted end-user (i.e. to teachers), but because teachers don’t have the authority to bring our SaaS solution in their work process. Almost all the responses that we got were positive for the solution, but expectedly they couldn’t subscribe to us out of their pockets. Then we executed our multi-persona cold prospecting. 

    In this, we first outreached to our end user i.e. teachers, and get their as expected responses of “the product is good, but we don’t hold the authority”. After getting responses from one or two teachers of the same school, we then outreached to their administration heads (who have the buying authority) quoting their own teaching staff that they appreciate the product and how can it solve the concerned purpose.

    This cold prospecting strategy works because both of our personas got influenced by it. Teachers pass on our message because our SaaS solution is actually made for them and since they are not the right person to approach for it, they happily referred us to the administrating heads. And the email on the other side converts well because it was personalized and referred by their own teaching staff who need the solution.”

    6. Start a newsletter

    Sometimes, the best prospecting strategy is to simply share helpful content and resources on a regular basis.  

    “Email Marketing has worked tremendously great for us as we started with a knowledge-based monthly newsletter and then we started sharing information resources by keeping content gated. It still works awesome for us,” says Rajat Chauhan of Ace Infoway.  

    If you are looking for some newsletter inspiration, here are a bunch of newsletter examples we sourced from marketers – divided by brand, category, and industry.

    7. Ask your existing customers for referrals 

    Finally, don’t forget about leveraging any happy customers in your sales efforts. You can build a process where you ask all of your current, happy customers for additional people in their network who benefit from using your product. 

    For example, Charles Cridland of YourParkingSpace says, “Our strategy involves making cold communication a little “warm” through engaging elements of familiarity. Our process starts with asking the existing clients to share three people they know who might benefit from our services. Those people are then contacted through a series of cold emails mentioning what we do and inviting them to a free trial. The emails, however, mention that their friend or acquaintance is already our satisfied user, and they believe our service will be beneficial to the prospective client. People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. And this is what makes our cold prospecting so effective. About 1.5% of recipients responded to our emails, and one-third became paid users.”
    To make the job easier, you might want to use one of the cold emails tools out there.


    Monitor Your SaaS Sales in Databox 

    You can’t improve your cold prospecting campaigns if you aren’t regularly tracking them. 

    Tracking your campaigns using spreadsheets is tedious and leaves a lot of room for human error. Not to mention, all of the time your sales team spends updating data is time they aren’t spending reaching out and closing deals.

    That’s why creating a sales dashboard using a sales dashboard software like Databox with your most important KPIs can be helpful. With Databox, you can connect all of the sales and marketing tools you might be using including HubSpot, Salesforce, Google Analytics, and more. So, you can monitor leads from the initial outreach all the way to closed-won.  Get started for free today.

    Article by
    Jessica Malnik

    Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.

    More from this author

    Get practical strategies that drive consistent growth

    Read some