In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to do sales when you’re a self-service product.

When done right, the self-service model can be a great way to sell saas products. Leads come through your funnel, sign up for a trial and upgrade to a higher tier without you lifting a finger or hiring an expensive sales team.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten share their thoughts on what exactly the self-service model is, how to optimize your website for it, mistake that saas entrepreneurs make when it comes to optimizing for sales and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:40 Why this topic was chosen.

02:22 How sales is approached at FYI.

02:50 Optimizing for sales at FYI.

03:27 An example of how to optimize for sales.

05:50 A mistake that saas entrepreneurs make when it comes to optimising for sales.

06:41 Why treating a free trial like a freemium product is a good idea.

07:41 Best places to optimise for sales.

07:55 Why you should invest in copywriting.

08:39 The importance of having great copy on your website.

3 Key Points:

  • You wanna find the opportunities of getting people to pay by pushing some buttons.
  • The more incentivized they are in using the product, the more incentivized they are in buying it.
  • Are there things you can provide people to accelerate the timeline of them paying you.




Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. And today on the startup chat we’re gonna talk about how to do sales when you’re a self service product. So we had somebody ask you that, is that it?



Steli Efti: Yeah, somebody sent me an email and basically said that they’re a huge fan of the podcast. We love you back. Thanks for listening. And that he’s been reading a ton of my content and has been enjoying it. But asked basically, hey, can the two of us talk about how to think about selling and sales and how to optimize for sales, where you don’t have a sales team and you don’t want to reach out to customers. He has a self service SAS product that is very inexpensive, that’s kind of very focused on consumers let’s say. And he was saying, how does he use some of these tactics of sales in a way that’s more automated, that’s more self serving? And I thought A, it’s a great question B, I don’t have a lot of experience in this when it comes to the self service world but you do. So I have some because a fair chunk of close customers are self served, not all of them do we reach out to and have a sales conversation with, but I thought it’d be a fun topic to unpack and hopefully useful to him. So when you are building products Hiten and you I’ve never asked you, but FYI, is that a product that you envisioned at some point having a sales team or is this a full self service product? That’s what I would assume, right?



Hiten Shah: Yeah, it will be self service for awhile for sure.



Steli Efti: And so, yeah. What are some of the top level of thoughts that you have when you’re trying to optimize for sales when it’s full self service?



Hiten Shah: While your interface is selling. So you want to find the opportunities to get people to pay by pushing some buttons essentially. And you want to do that in a way that’s super natural to them, not just upgrade button. So in the past you could have an upgrade button somewhere in the interface, usually like in the top right of the navigation next to your face and people would click it and upgrade, and you get a decent amount of upgrades from that. These days people are pretty numb to buttons that say upgrade. And so what you really want to do is think through how can you contextually give them more and an opportunity to get more once they’ve gotten some amount of value. And if your trial product the supplies and if you’re a paid product, the supplies as well. I’m sorry, freemium product, the supplies. And so what I mean by this is basically, I’ll give an example from CRM. Let’s say the CRM has, I’ll start with the free plan, has a free plan and you can have up to 100 contacts in the free plan lets say. And you’re getting value from it. You’re using the CRM as a user, and what you see as you see these CTA’s to help you do more in the workflow or in the process of the sort of tasks that you’re doing with the product. So if you’re sitting there and you’re adding contacts, you could always see a counter that showing how many contacts that you currently have and how that fares against the 100 limit and then you can say you want more contacts upgrade. Ideally it’s like you’re getting close to having 100 and then the CTA could change to say you’re almost past year amount of contacts in your current plan upgrade. That’s a really simple example, but we can get more advanced and say, in the interface, let’s say there’s a profile page for each contact or contact details. There could be a button that says call this contact and record the call, and then if you hit it, it could show a model that tells you about this upgrade feature and say, this is available on paid plans, here’s the value you’re going to get. You might even show the contact’s face and make it feel like they could almost do it. And then you would show a credit card form, if they said that they wanted it and then they would pay and then they’d be upgraded. So this idea of contextual in the product while someone’s using is the key. And the ideal way, and this is what people don’t usually tell you when they talk about these upgrades, is that you are making it so that it’s something that people want, that they might not be able to get yet or they can’t get yet. And the more the incentive, not even incentive but the more incentivized they are in using the product, the more incentivized are going to be buying it. And so the hundred contact limit is an interesting one. What would it be more interesting is if you let them somehow or got them somehow more value. So imagine if instead of saying, you’re hitting a 100 contact limit, you could say we’ve found 10 people you should contact based on the 100 that you have in the system or the fifth you’ve already added. And upgrade to get them in the system so that you can outreach to them. So that would be way better because you’re giving a very contextual CTA saying, we know something and you wouldn’t necessarily say that you know this or all that it’s just like new people to reach out to. So it’s almost like, okay, right now I’m using this product, I have to manually add all these people to the product and one of the features is that it will do prospecting for me, and find me opportunities and people that I should be contacting. So that would be a more contextual proper CTA. That’s also similar to what I would do on a free trial. A free trial is a little different because you’ve likely, at least signed up and you know that the time is going to run out. So what you’re really trying to do during a free trial before the time runs out is one, give people value, enough value that they want to upgrade, okay, that’s cool. But two, thing that I see people not thinking about is get upgrades from people before the trial is over and that’s a really powerful. So what you want to think through is are there things you can provide people to accelerate the timeline of them paying you? And are there features that are only available after they pay? You almost treat it like a freemium product in a way, or is there an accelerator or some boosts that you give them now? So again, the example I gave of here are contexts for you and prospects for you. That’s really cool. That’s something that I could see a free trial product offering to accelerate and boosts up the ability for someone to sell, and thus they would buy it. So it would increase the user’s likelihood of purchase in a shorter period of time than when the trial is over. That’s a little trickier, there’s a lot of nuances to that and that’s probably a whole podcast or blog posts or something. But that concept is what I would share about free trials which is, if you treat a free trial like freemium and your goal is to boost or accelerate the sale so that it happens before the trials over, that would be the key there. And it can be done in the same way as being super contextual about the upgrade prompts.



Steli Efti: I love that. So most of the things that you said, I just want to highlight that, you can build these things where the product is basically prospecting and communicating an opportunity for users to upgrade and get more value out of the product at the right time, and in the right context. And do that in the product. You can additionally do that in email, you could set up drip emails that are contextual or behavioral. So based on what type of things a user does on your product, you could pre write emails that are basically a sales pitch of sword. And get sent to the customer telling them about new opportunities, telling them about what they’re going to get if they purchase, telling them about all kinds of things that you want to tell them. The same thing applies to your website. A lot of times, and this is actually an episode that have on the docket for us to talk about Hiten, which is good copywriting. Copywriting is something that I would advise somebody that has a self service product to read more about and learn more about. So not just how to make your website look really beautiful. I know that a lot of content marketing tips that out there today, especially in SAS, are more about building an audience and getting people’s email, so it’s much more about blog content and content on social media and stuff like that, video and all that. But what I’m referring to is the actual copy on your website that is trying to communicate to me what this is, why need this and why I should the next action, what the next action is. And in some cases, if you’re really smart, the copy might be prospecting me in some way. It might be saying things that will turn away that potential customers and that will draw in the right type of customers instead of trying to draw in everybody. So I think my final tip, Hiten you really crush it with giving people all these ideas on what to do with the self service part. I think my tip at the end of this episode, more generically would be, learn more about copywriting, read a bunch of books, read a bunch of articles, and really look at your website copy and see if this was a presentation, if those were words that a salesperson would speak to another human, how pervasive are these words? How influential? How convincing? And how focused are these words, not just on explaining everything but actually truly convincing and selling somebody of the value that you can provide to them.



Hiten Shah: Yeah, now that’s really good. I think the framing and the value prop and copy, it has to speak to the people who are going to pay it. Right?



Steli Efti: There you go.



Hiten Shah: That’s important.



Steli Efti: All right. That’s it from us for this episode. We’ll hear you very soon.