Indian SaaS companies make just about 20% of their revenues from the domestic market, according to Bain and Company. The US market, on the other hand, accounts for over 50% of revenue for top-20 Indian SaaS companies.
With the US presenting a substantially larger opportunity, about 85% of top Indian SaaS companies have expanded to the US market to achieve meaningful scale.
To understand what is happening at the frontlines of the US GTM, we invited leaders from demand generation, sales, revops, and marketing to present their firsthand observations and learnings.
Here are seven actionable recommendations from Tanmay Garg, Demand Generation Manager, AdPushup; Vignesh Ganesan, Sales, e6data; Abhilash Krishnan, Revenue Strategy and Operations, Uniphore; and Sunil Neurgaonkar, Marketing, GTM Buddy.
Demand Gen Leaders See Shrinking Budgets and Slower Sales Cycles
- There’s a visible reduction in budget and an elongated sales cycle. With more CFOs now part of the buying group, the ability to prove ROI is key.
- Customer Acquisition Costs (CACs) are increasing on the digital channels. Middle of Funnel (MOF) terms are no longer converting, and there are no conversions from reverse IP tools.
- Trying non-traditional campaigns like Performance Max on Google is helping. Pay-per-lead (PPL) Campaigns on Gartner have also worked for some categories.
- With response rates going down, the activations are crunching. Digital-only outreach channels are no longer working. It’s time to invest in offline meet-ups.
Recommendation #1: Invest in Offline Events
Create your own stars: customer champions, subject matter experts, and others who can vouch for your product or service. Sponsor curated events and let your stars talk to an audience that appreciates the value-add from someone they hold in high regard.
Ensure the session focuses on the problem statement, not selling your product. If traditional selling is your focus for an event, you might as well put up a booth at Dreamforce or SaaStr.
Secure local partnerships (influencers and brands) to co-host the meetups so the financial burden of hosting it all is not on you. Ensure you are familiar with all the public holidays in the US. Never plan an event around those dates.
Sales Leaders See Larger Buying Groups and Lower Win Rates
- Covid shifted selling from 1:Some to 1:Many. Committee selling is the norm in which you sell the same product with multiple use cases to different stakeholders in your buyer’s organization.
- Companies are reallocating funds instead of increasing budgets. If you sell to GTM teams, you will soon find that they compete internally for available budgets. If you are to sell, you need to prove value to displace poor solutions and have that budget allocated to your product. Adding a new budget line item to the CFO’s spreadsheet for your application might not work. Prove enough value to displace a budget approved for an existing vendor(s) in your space.
- That the win rates are tanking is no surprise. What is surprising, however, is that outbound sales require 2x outreach for the same results now.
Recommendation #2: Built Strong Advisory Relationships with Enterprise Accounts
Your seller must be an advisor to potential large-ticket customers. This could help them make better buying decisions where you have expertise.
Say your advantage is pricing, and you realize there is no way to convince them not to buy the competition; the best outcome here would be to advise them on things to look out for in implementation with the competitor.
It might not serve your targets, but in the long run, some prospects will come back to you during renewal if they found your claim vs. the competitor was true - maybe their features did not work the way they should have, maybe the ROI on investment did not work out.
The market is pushing decision-makers to continue to work with existing vendors. A consolidation of spend with a single vendor results in some inferior solutions being bundled at a lower cost. Sooner or later, it boils down to real ROI, and come renewal; the inferior products suffer churn.
The last leg of a large enterprise sale that does not convert is to nurture that prospect into a potential future pipeline. Continue to build on the back of a strong advisory relationship with a promise of a product that solves. Note that you cannot afford this on all deal sizes and types.
Recommendation #3: Choose Warm Outreach Over Cold
Now is the time to revisit your sales outreach and carefully plan every possible touch.
Some sales leaders have found success tapping into alumni networks. Say your alumni network has some US-based organizations' top Enterprise Marketing Directors. And suppose that is exactly who your potential buyer is.
Reaching out to them on LinkedIn about your shared academic background is a boon and a great way to engage in a warm conversation rather than doing cold outbound. This channel could help with potential introductions, too.
This is more important if you are an early-stage startup. Our speaker who ran this campaign saw 80% open rates and 60% reply rates on this experiment!
Recommendation #4: Use Every Channel
The more channels you sell, the better. Plan and engage every potential channel, including community outreach. Create a strong network of partners. Reach out to individuals in positions to influence a sale at a potential customer in addition to your official partners. Arm them with scripts, white papers, and frameworks to discuss your space and make heroes out of them. It is a win-win.
RevOps Leaders See Greater Need for Data and Analysis
- If you do not know your pipeline coverage by territory, product, business type, and rep, you are practically praying to hit the revenue target and not working toward it.
- Conduct a thorough win/loss analysis for all opportunities. Learn and create a potential feedback loop to increase your chances of future winning.
- Cultivate more channels and lead sources. Widen your outreach to tap all potential marketing avenues.
- As annual contract value (ACV) increases, field marketing plays a bigger role in helping close large deals. Tap into their potential. Also important is to re-evaluate and evolve your lead scoring methodology based on market learnings.
Recommendation #5: Track and Measure Key Metrics
Set benchmarks and measure all your key business metrics: Sales Velocity, Stage-to-Stage Conversions, Performance by Industry & Lead Sources, Campaign Performances by Pipeline ROI & Booking ROI, and Win Rates by territories.
Marketing Leaders See Success with Integrated Campaigns and Events
Integrated marketing campaigns are the silver bullet for US GTM outreach. What does this mean?
Identify the top voices in your market. Do you sell into sales enablement? Find the most recognized people in enablement. Build strong relationships with these luminaries.
Next up is to be part of their journeys. If they host meet-ups regularly, sponsor them. Hold events where your prospects are located. Your relationships with local influencers can help you get deals on event venues, swag you don't need to fly overseas, and anything that could cut your costs.
If you plan well in advance, they could also evangelize your event in their local communities for a strong turnout.
Recommendation #6: Co-Market With Partners
Look to partner with a non-competing organization that sells to the same Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to co-host the meet-ups and share the costs.
Work with them to co-author a white paper or a blog on the problem statement you are solving. It is a win-win because they have the credibility and subject expertise, and you have the marketing dollars to spread the word.
Sometimes, marketing outreach needs to be up close and personal. Host Mixers, roadshows, and third-party events. A curated event ensures your audience knows they are with their tribe.
Recommendation #7: Leverage Referrals
Building referral partnerships is a smart way to unlock qualified pipelines faster. Use your influencer network to introduce you to qualified prospects who genuinely want to solve the problem you have built a solution for.
A referral network can help you unblock stuck deals, share genuine feedback that a prospect might be shy of sharing, and evangelize your product in communities.
For every progressive stage of the funnel, these referrals move in your pipeline, the influencer gets incentivized in dollars. It is a win-win-win: the prospect gets a solution, influencers get paid, and you make revenue.
Planning for GTM Success in the US
The US market can be a lifeline for sustainable growth for Indian SaaS companies. While the macroeconomic situation has rendered traditional sales and marketing outreach less effective, companies with a more nuanced and curated approach can reach and engage their target market.
Success depends on building relationships with influencers, partners, and community and using a multi-channel approach to bring your product to market and grow revenue.