13 powerful tips on activating more leads (B2B SaaS Activation)
Increase your conversion from sign-ups to active customers with customer journey maps, powerful CTAs, personalized messaging, social proof and much more.
Activation is one crucial part of your B2B SaaS Growth Flywheel. After you’ve acquired new leads, you need to activate them and deliver value so they are willing actually to buy your product.
If you’re product-led, you now want them to experience the value of your product and become active users. You want them to take meaningful action in your product (aha moment).
If you’re sales-led, as they are not discovering the product on their own, you want them to book a sales demo with you so you can show them the value of your product and how it solves their pain.
Benchmarks for healthy conversion rates vary from industry to industry, but you should be worried if your conversion rate is lower than 10% (both for product-led & sales-led).
Activation for Sales-led growth
For a sales-led business analyze how many of the new leads book a sales demo with you.
If most of the new leads are not getting active, this means you have a problem in your activation stage. Key elements to review in your activation strategy are:
What actions are you taking to activate them (email sequences; phone calls; webinars...)?
How do you present your product (value proposition; value-based selling; sales demo)?
Do you overload them with too much (detailed) information too early?
How do you communicate the value of your product (your language; design)?
Do they trust you (testimonials; social proof)?
Activation for product-led growth
You want new sign-ups to meet the aha moment (meaningful action in the product), preferably as fast as possible (time to value). So you need to have a powerful onboarding process. To have a high conversion rate, you need to review the following parts of your activation strategy:
How easy is it to understand your product (e.g. use product tours, academy videos, in-product messages, checklists & triggered emails...)?
How fast can you deliver value to the user (aha-moment)?
How fast can the user set up and use the product (divided into smaller actions to ensure fast achievements (e.g. progress bars, checklists...)?
Do you overload them with too much (detailed) information too early?
Do they trust you (testimonials; social proof)?
13 Activation tips
So in the following, you will find 13 tips on how to increase your activation conversion.
#1 Be intentional about the next step (Customer Journey Map)
It sounds simple, but lots of startups try to activate new leads without having a clear plan of what they want them to do. Start by creating a customer journey map (e.g. using Miro template) and decide on what each step in the customer journey looks like and what you want new leads to achieve (e.g. writing the first article, joining a webinar, booking a sales demo, designing the first newsletter...).
#2 Having a clear CTA on your sales messaging
After you know what the customer journey looks like (and what you want new leads to do), you can work with a strong and clear call to action. Normally if you’re following a sales-led growth strategy you want potential customers to talk to your sales team (vs. in a product-led growth you want them to test the product “free trial”). But it’s important that you consciously decide on your call to action. Here are some important things to remember:
Make the CTA clear (e.g. Book Sales Demo; 14 days Free Trial)
Make it clear what you want them to do and what they can expect doing so
Optimize the process ‘after’ the CTA (e.g. Calendly for Sales Demo Booking, Round Robin in CRM, Automated Email Follow Up...)
Consistency in all your communication (Website, Email, Ads...) - of course, you should test different versions to see what’s working best
Also, remember to always add a clear CTA in all your outbound communication (e.g. cold emails).
#3 Smooth ‘book a demo’ process (for sales-led growth)
If you get interested prospects to click on your CTA button (e.g. on the website or in cold email), make it really easy and smooth for them to book a call with your sales team. You need to lower the barrier. If it’s just one or two clicks to book a meeting, the chances are way higher they do so (especially if you target smaller accounts).
Here are some helpful tips:
Make sure you always have free slots (e.g. Use Round Robin for your Sales Team)
Automatically send calendar invites
Provide further value/information in an automated email follow up
Send meeting reminders to reduce the demo no-show rate
#4 Lead to Response Time < 5minutes
If you don’t offer the option to directly book a sales demo with you or if you offer other options to get in touch with you (e.g. Join a webinar, Inbound Calls,...), you should be really good in your Lead to Response Time. The lead response time is the amount of time that it takes you (mostly your sales team) to respond to a new inbound lead.
Studies have shown that the optimal lead response time is below 5 minutes (vs. the average is 47 hours, as stated by Forbes). The faster you are in your response time, the higher the chance you get in touch with the inbound and the higher is your conversion rate. So, develop the right processes to be able to respond as fast as possible:
Assign leads to dedicated Inbound Sales reps
Test different channels to get in touch with them (e.g. Email, Calls, Whatsapp, Linkedin...)
Prepare templates (always make sure to add value to your message)
#5 Collect only the minimum information
This is true for most forms you are using, e.g the product sign-up, the book a sales demo, or registering for a webinar.
I would recommend limiting it to a maximum of 3-5 fields for each form. If possible use drop-downs or checkboxes to make it easier and faster for them.
If you’re using CRM tools like Hubspot, you can already pre-populate forms with known information.
But I would always collect email addresses. When you’re collecting emails you have the chance to nurture them, provide more value, and use your email automation sequences to active more leads.
#6 Use onboarding email automation
Email automation is an effective method to nurture new leads and help them to find value in your product. When using email automation make sure to:
Personalize your messaging (address their personal pain paints, names, company name, industry news...)
Focus on values (vs. features) - you’re still selling your product, so communicate the values and benefits and not your features.
Timing: Trigger emails based on user behavior (e.g. open emails, took a specific action on the product...)
Having a clear intentional call to action: The call to action should guide the user to the next steps in the customer journey (towards the aha moment or book a demo).
It’s helpful to use a powerful email automation tool (e.g. Hubspot) for that.
#7 Personalize your messaging
No one likes impersonal communication. So try to collect information about your lead and personalize your messaging. Messaging includes sales calls, emails, and in-product messages.
Here are some tips on how you can get personalization working:
Understand where they are in their customer journey (What do they care about right now?)
Ask questions in the product & forms that you can use to personalize your message (e.g. What is the main goal using your product?; How do they currently solve the pain?)
Use a powerful CRM and email automation software (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce)
Enrich your data with research on the leads (e.g. Linkedin, Company Website...)
Add a personal touch to your communication (e.g. Sales Video, Image of a Sales Rep, Personalized email from the founder)
#8 Provide enough value in product tours (for product-led growth)
Yes, they already signed up but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to sell anymore. You still need to convince them of the value of your product, so make sure you’re always adding the values of your product in your communication. Sell values, not features.
If you offer free trials for your product (product-led growth), make sure that your product tour focuses on delivering value to the user. A product tour guides the user through the product, explaining the most important features and focusing on highlighting the values and advantages of the product. Don’t overload them with explaining every single small feature, focus on the big picture. In this phase of the customer journey, you still need to sell the values and benefits of your product. Only if the user understands and experiences the value of your product, they are interested in every single detail of your product.
More tips on product tours in Cam Sloan's article How To Create A Successful Product Tour: Tips, Tools, & Real-World Examples
#9 Add progress bars or checklists (for product-led growth)
Make sure you add visual progress cues like progress bars, checklists, or even time indicators. New users want to know what they need to do next and how much progress they already made.
#10 Provide enough support
Especially if your product is complex or the set-up needs a lot of work (or investment), users tend to have more specific and critical questions. So it makes sense to provide them with enough support. Great ways to do so are:
Helpcenter with How-to articles
Product How-to Videos
Also make sure that you have an alignment between your sales, customer success, and support team.
#11 Segment customers and offer sales support (hybrid model)
Collect information about new sign-ups and filter out the most promising accounts. You can flag those sign-ups and sales takes over and actively offer them support (e.g. sales demo).
Identifying non-performing customers and reaching out to help them to get active.
#12 Social proof
Show them how successful they can get using your product (what results can they expect) and underline them with social proof of existing customers. You can use testimonials, e.g. quotes, testimonial videos, or success stories.
Check out this article by Laura Kluz & Ramil John for some great examples of product onboarding experiences.
#13 Knowing their goal (& motivations)
Ask new sign-ups (in the product onboarding) what they want to achieve with your product. Knowing their motivation and what they aim for lets you tailor your messaging. So try to capture the (business) goal for each of your users.
Extra tips to experiment with
And last but not least some ideas you could experiment with:
Cohort based onboardings (group together signups of each week and put them together into a cohort —> will increase social pressure, peer to peer interaction, and peer to peer support)
Add prices/specials: When achieving X (e.g. sending the first 100 emails with our tool) you will get Y (e.g. Free upgrade to the premium tier for 6 months)
Personal Video Messages (especially if your ARPA is higher) — e.g using Loom or Vidyard.
References: This article is inspired by Crewcharge (5 Red Flags 🚩 in SaaS Onboarding that causes Customer Churn), Laura Kluz & Ramil John (We analyzed 150+ onboarding experiences. Here are the best user onboarding examples.), Userpilot (Everything You Need To Know About SaaS Onboarding [8 Best Examples]), Cam Sloan (How To Create A Successful Product Tour: Tips, Tools, & Real-World Examples)
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