So far, we've managed to sell our SaaS product to technology enthusiasts, visionaries and pragmatists. Now, it's time to roll-up our sleeves, and take on an even bigger challenge. Today, we're learning how to sell to the pragmatist's reluctant big brother: the conservative buyer.
Who Are Conservatives?
Take a look at the familar segments of the technology adoption lifecycle (above), and you'll notice that the rate of adoption has been increasing. With each transition, from tech enthusiasts to visionaries, visionaries to pragmatists, both the total number of users and the rate of growth have been increasing.
Like pragmatists before them, conservative buyers represent a huge portion of the total market for your product (roughly 34%); but crucially, they're also the first segment where the rate of adoption actually decreases. Though new users are still adopting the product, they're doing so at a slower rate.
There's are couple of reasons for this slowdown. With half the market already saturated, it becomes harder to attract new buyers. Even then, instead of adopting technology to gain an edge over their competitors (like pragmatists), conservatives adopt technology to avoid losing marketshare. They're a reactive market, not a proactive one; and their drive to purchase is motivated out of perceived necessity, and not a desire to improve performance.
This means that conservatives are incredibly risk averse, only willing to adopt a new technology when all those around them have already done so. Instead of being motivated by potential performance improvements, they're driven by price: looking to adopt the same technology as their competitors at the lowest possible cost.
What Do Conservatives Care About?
Pragmatists adopt new technology to improve performance, and gain an edge over their rivals. When these performance benefits come to fruition, conservatives are forced into action; coerced into adopting the same technology as their more pragmatic rivals, to avoid being out-competed.
They aren't motivated by the benefits of using your product, or its potential to transform their business - they're simply trying to stay competitive. They aren't purchasing your product because they can see the value in it: they're purchasing it because they have to.
Though conservatives will still weigh-up your product's business case, to some extent, the business case has already been borne out by the adoption of the technology by their rivals. Instead, conservatives are more likely to scrutinise the price of your product, as they look to adopt the same technology as their competitors at the lowest possible cost.
Like pragmatists, conservatives would realise huge benefits from professional services, and product-related training - but with such a fixation on price, they'll be unwilling to budget resources to pay for them.
As the market for your technology starts to mature, and growth starts to slow, there'll be fewer new entrants into the market, and a handful of SaaS solutions will start to dominate. These changes are hugely appealing to conservatives, as they look to choose between established vendors, and identify the most popular, trusted, and tried-and-tested solutions available.
The conservative's buying process is a reluctant one, as competitor success forces them into a purchase they wouldn't otherwise make. They're trying to protect their interests, and in doing so, they'll do everything in their power to ensure their purchase is as risk-free as possible.
How to Sell to Conservatives
1) Focus on Fear
Selling to conservatives requires a change in your marketing messaging. Instead of intensely focusing on the benefits of adopting your SaaS product, you need to emphasise the risks associated with not adopting, and play on the conservative's fear of being overtaken by their competitors.
2) Promote Social Proof
In order to encourage conservatives to buy your SaaS product, you need to highlight the fact that all of their competitors have already adopted it. The best way to do this is to collate relevant social proof: collecting testimonials, independent reports, case studies and examples of similar businesses that are already using your SaaS product.
3) Use Discounting
With earlier segments, discounting can devalue your product, and deter the sales process: but with price such an important part of the conservative's buying process, discounting can be invaluable for attracting new buyers.
By this stage of growth, it's likely you'll have a database of inactive conservative leads - and by reaching out to them with a special offer, you can undercut other vendors and re-engage your cold contacts.
4) Highlight Competitor Comparisons
Conservatives will be more critical of your product, process and price than any other segment before them.
With an increasingly mature marketplace of other vendors to compete with, it needs to be easy for potential customers to compare the features of your product with those of its competitors: allowing conservative buyers to weigh up every line item, and justify each penny of their investment.
5) Stabilise Your Product
Technology enthusiasts and visionaries need to be active participants in the product design process, but at this stage of the market, your product needs to be in a stable, finished form. Any drastic functionality changes or dramatic redesigns will put the frighteners on a conservative buyer, introducing unknown variables and potential risk - enough to halt a conservative sales process in its tracks.
To discover how to identify and sell to your SaaS product's ideal buyers, download our free eBook below: Inbound Marketing for SaaS Directors.