What's the best way to sell a SaaS prior to launching?

Hi! We're working on our first SaaS type service but need to raise some cash as we're bootstrapping, but with that notion were holding off trying to raise investor money. Has anyone here sold a SaaS subscription or account use prior to building or launching? If so, any tips or best way for us to do so as well?


I was involved with a SaaS product that launched a landing page and made clear that the product was still in development, but that we would give earliest access to people who pre-paid for the product. We also allowed people to choose what they paid, and promised them that payment would stay in-effect for several months.

We generated revenue the first day of posting the landing-page publicly and increased revenue month-over-month. However, we discontinued the product as it was simply not big enough of a market for us to justify continued time and energy.

But I would encourage you to pursue a similar model in that it's a great way to test and validate the pain others experience for the problem and a great way to ensure you're building the product to satisfy real customers.

Happy to talk this through in more detail in a call

Answered 10 years ago

Hey Super Star SaaS,

Here's an idea:
30/30/30 - 30% sales, 30% product, 30% wow factor.

Sell the software before you even build it. The cash you get from the sales could be what you use to bootstrap. Build the business with a few select customers until everything is dialed in. Make it profitable, then contact investors for marketing dollars.

Here's a full path to stardom:
1. ID TARGET MARKET: Identify the target market and the massive problem that your SaaS is fixing -- just the one single greatest benefit and who gets it
2. BUILD LIST: Setup a prelaunch page to collect emails - think LaunchRock or something
3. SPECIAL INVITE LIST: Invite people to get in early -- leverage your greater network (particularly your circle of influence)
4. SOCIAL MEDIA: Build social media tools to compliment the pre-launch. Reach out to potential users through social media (if you have time to write custom messages)
5. REVIEW COPIES: Give away review copies to bloggers and reviewers - ask for their feedback (your product better be solid though)
6. GET PRESS: Get the press either through #5 or through a press agent

Another great resource is the $100 Startup Launch Checklist.

If you need help dialing this in - there are a thousand ways to do it. I would be happy to help you craft a plan and execute it.

Cheers --

Answered 10 years ago

Hi, I started a SaaS and started selling with no actual product.
In order to understand what to do.
1. Who are your early adopters ( the ones that are suffering the most because you don't exist).
2. Understand their Real problem and them promise them something.
3. Use things that alteady exist and put them together to make that promise realitu for them.

This is utterly important because you'll learn what to build later, adjusting the SaaS as you are the solution, then you build it.

Now a big thing is PRICING most of the time this is something that gets us all stuck.

Here is my approach.
Think what is the maximum you can change for what you are promising. Try not to think on how much it will cost, but how big is the problem that you are solving. The charge it. By putting a number you'll be able to start the conversarion you need to have with your early adopters in order to understand the value of your SaaS.

Hope this helped!
If you want to tall more give me a call.

Answered 10 years ago

To sell SaaS prior to launching you must carefully follow a series of techniques. These techniques are as follows:
1. Keep your trials short: A long trial might seem like a good way to hook your customer, but you’re really just hurting your start-up. For 99% of start-ups, trials shouldn’t be any longer than 14 days. Here is why.
1. Most people do not use free trials for the full duration. Look at your data and you’ll see that the vast majority of your trial users duck out after about three days.
2. Users take a short trial more seriously. Your prospects will procrastinate, and when they procrastinate, they forget. With a shorter trial period, they’re more likely to try your product immediately.
3. Lower customer acquisition costs. When you shorten your trial, you also shorten your sales cycle. If you can shorten your sales cycle from six weeks to three, you will significantly reduce your customer acquisition costs.
2. Optimize your email campaign: Unless you have a killer email campaign, most of your prospects are going to forget you exist within hours of enrolling in your trial. Here are three strategies to get the most out of your drip email campaign.
1. Use “human” email addresses. Do not ever send an email from a department. Instead of “”, use “”.
2. Send a lot of emails. Christoph Jan’s, one of the most successful SaaS investors of all time, advice to SaaS founders is, “If no one is calling your emails ‘spam’, maybe you’re not sending enough emails.”
3. Send activity-based emails. Your drip campaign should automatically email your leads for a number of “If no one is calling your emails ‘spam’, maybe you’re not sending enough emails” situations, including when they sign up, if they visit the account or cancellation page, and if their trial is about to end.
3. Call your trial signups immediately: Most fledging SaaS businesses don’t call their trial users, and those that do often wait until the last day. They don’t know how to sell SaaS. In the early stages of your start-up, you should call every single trial user within five minutes of signup. If you do that, you will:
1. Drastically improve your reach rate. There is a good chance the prospect is still at their computer with your product fresh on their mind. The longer you wait, the less likely your prospect is to answer.
2. Quickly qualify or disqualify prospects. You need to make sure that your solution is a good fit for your prospect’s needs before you offer to close the deal. If it is not, you can use the call to help them explore other options.
3. Handle objections effectively. A controlled phone call is the best environment to successfully manage objections. If they do not have any, you can use this time to pre-emptively resolve common objections.

4. Give short, value-focused demos: The most common mistake I see start-ups make when giving demos is treating the demo like a training session. Your lead does not need (or even want) to see every little thing that your product does. They want to know how it will help them be more successful. Here are three strategies to give product demos that sell.
1. Qualify first. Do not use demos as a qualification tool. Always qualify your leads before you give them a demo.
2. Keep it short. 30–60 minutes is way too long. If you cannot explain how your product helps your prospect within 15 minutes, you don’t know your product or your prospect.
3. Focus on benefits, not features. Your prospects do not care about every little button on your interface. Do not tell them what your product does, tell them what it does for them.
5. Follow up relentlessly: You will rarely close a deal on the first call. Start-up sales success is dependent on your ability to follow up repeatedly. How often? If your prospect has ever expressed interest in your product, follow up forever. Don’t settle for silence or “maybe”; maybes kill your start-up. Keep calling and emailing until you get a clear “yes” or “no”.If the lead is completely cold, follow this 14-day plan:
1. Day 1: Initial contact.
2. Day 3: First follow-up. Reach out at a different time of day with a condensed version of your initial message.
3. Day 7: Second follow-up. Reach out at a different time of day and restate your call to action.
4. Day 14: Third follow-up. If you have not received any response from your lead, send the break-up email. This is where response rates skyrocket.
6. Set your prices (really) high: SaaS companies who rely on pricing to be competitive aren’t confident in their products. They think that the only way they can become viable is by devaluing their solution. Pricing should not make your product competitive value should.
Learn from Cloud sponge and experiment with pricing. You will know you have got it right when:
1. 30% of your prospects say, “You’re crazy, I would never pay that!”
2. 30% of your prospects say, “Your product is really cheap.”
3. 40% of your prospects say, “Your product is expensive, but worth the price.”
It is okay to be too expensive for some prospects. In fact, if you never lose deals over pricing, then your SaaS product is too cheap.
7. Sell prepaid annual plans: Start-ups love SaaS products because of the reliable monthly revenue. While those plans may offer consistent revenue, it is a slow trickle. When growing your SaaS start-up, you need a waterfall of revenue, not a trickle. Consider offering your prospects discounted rates if they buy a plan. Although this may bring down overall revenue in the moment, it gives you immediate access to substantial cash flow. You can use this influx of revenue to hire a sales team, expand into new markets, or improve your product.
8. Do not give discounts: Discounts might seem like a great way to get reluctant prospects on board, but they end up doing more harm than good. It is not how you sell SaaS. Here is why:
1. Discounts make salespeople lazy. It is hard to sell prospects on value and easy to lower the price. When discounts are an option, count on your salespeople abusing it.
2. Discounts make predictable revenue impossible. When every new customer pays a different price, there is no way to know what your revenue will look like next week, let alone next year.
3. Discounts are bad for branding. Customers talk, and when they start to realize that their competitors are getting the same product for cheaper, they are not going to be happy.
You need a strict discount policy, and you need to stick to it. Outside of prepaid annual plans, we recommend not offering discounts at all.
9. Never close a bad deal: Never sell to unqualified customers. Sometimes that will mean saying “no” to a customer who wants to give you money. Closing an easy deal might be tempting, but the cost of churn will always outweigh short-term revenue. When you sell to an unqualified prospect, they are not going to be successful. They will have a lot of complaints and require a ton of support. These customers demoralize your team with negative feedback and start spreading bad reviews online. Eventually they will churn, and they will blame your product for their failure.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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