SaaS companies often tend to build their pipelines by focusing on prospect fit to the exclusion of everything else. And while this approach might be easier to execute, it’s a scatter-gun approach that isn’t particularly effective. That’s because it’s not very compelling to just rely on fairly basic information to try to build a connection with a potential customer. To get better results and build a more robust sales pipeline, it’s important to look beyond fit and focus on any pain points your prospects may have.

The problem with building a pipeline solely based on fit

Creating a pipeline based on fit is relatively straightforward. You might consider thousands of people at hundreds of companies and whittle them down by industry, location, vertical, and job function. Any prospects who meet the desired criteria would therefore, in theory, fit your profile of an ideal customer. From there, it would just be a matter of sending them messages that reflect what you know about them. For example, your outreach might look something like this:

“I know you’re the (insert role) at (insert company) and are focused on issues regarding (insert vertical). I wanted to reach out about a solution we have that could revolutionize your operations.”

Unfortunately, communications like these come across as generic, even if the company you’re targeting would in fact benefit from your solution. The problem is that you haven’t reached your prospects on a deep enough level to actually get their attention. To do that, you need to talk to them about the problems they need to solve.

Focus on critical events and pain

There’s a better way of reaching out to potential clients than just explaining that you think they’ll benefit from your solution because of who they are and what industry they’re in. To do so, you need to know what’s going on in their world that could create challenges for them. Critical events — such as an acquisition or the introduction of new law or legislation — can really impact businesses and create pain points for them. Those pain points can be a great jumping off point for starting a sales relationship with them.

If your prospects are experiencing a critical event, your job is to leverage whatever pain they’re experiencing as a result to offer them a solution that’s tailored to help them resolve it. Reaching out to them armed with this information and a solution will help ensure that you’re viewed as a relevant, well-informed, and trustworthy potential partner.

Look to your current customers for insights

Thinking about critical events and the potential pain they may lead to for your prospects should encourage you to reflect on your current customer base and how you’ve helped them. Specifically, you’ll want to think about the critical event they bought because of and the impact your product made for them. You’ll also want to consider any other benefits your product might have brought. Once you know this, you can look at your prospects and see which ones are in need of the same solution as a result of the same or a similar critical event or pain point.

You may want to ask your customer success team why clients originally bought your product and, other than providing solutions to obvious problems, what other impacts or efficiencies it brought. Then, you can go out to prospective clients and say that you not only did you fix A, B, C problems, but that your existing customers are benefiting in X, Y, Z ways as a result.

Simply put, you want to be able to tell prospects that you understand their current challenges, that you have a way to overcome them, and that you’ve helped other clients in similar situations do so successfully.

Targeting your resources

The difference between leveraging fit and pain when building your sales pipeline is relevance. Even if you’re targeting the right person at the right company, unless you connect with them about their pain, and offer a solution to their challenges, you’re essentially fighting an uphill battle. Focusing on critical events, pain, and impact will help you create provocative and successful pitches that actually resonate with your prospects and get them to engage.