Building a SaaS Sales Team
Building a SaaS sales team can be a daunting task, and if not done correctly, you could fall into the 92% of SaaS companies that fail within the first three years of business.
SaaS companies may fail for many reasons, but one of the primary issues is not effectively selling the service you’re offering.
Whether you have a fantastic revolutionary idea for a SaaS service or just a new spin on an existing idea, you need sales to keep your company afloat long enough to build relationships and grow your business.
Building an effective and scalable SaaS sales team is arguably the most crucial part of long-term success for a SaaS business.
Methods Used To Build An Effective SaaS Sales Team
In the early days of a SaaS business, you generally have a passionate and knowledgeable founder trying to sell their dream to companies, and the sales process is a lot of trial and error. Still, that type of approach doesn’t scale as you try to build a sales team for your SaaS service.
Finding “rockstars” for your sales team isn’t a practical approach, as people come and go in SaaS sales, and your team should be built around processes rather than individuals. After all, you wouldn’t want to build your startup around one person, why build the foundation of your sales team around one person?
As your SaaS business grows, you need to find an effective way to get great salespeople but also give them the best tools to succeed in the shortest amount of time possible.
Create A Formal Structure And Process For Your Sales Team
You need a thorough and repeatable process that is documented and adjusted based on its effectiveness in each market you’re targeting. Any salesperson can be slotted in and help grow your SaaS business.
Determine who your ideal customers are and build a sales persona for each type of customer, outlining their problems and how you can solve those problems.
Who is your ideal customer(s)?
What problems do they have?
How does your SaaS service solve their problems?
What value do you bring that they should buy from you?
Qualify Sales Leads
Your sales team shouldn’t waste time on sales leads that have a low chance of turning into actual sales, so you need a methodology to determine if a sales lead is worth following up with or at least rank sales leads to work on the best opportunities.
Using the BANT method is an excellent way for a new team to qualify sales leads; you quickly need to determine:
Budget: How much of a budget does the lead have for your product? How many licenses are they looking to purchase?
Authority: Does your lead have the authority to make purchasing decisions, and if not, is the decision-maker willing to talk to you?
Need: Does your market have a real need for your service? As you go through the sales cycle, your lead will also be determining if the cost to benefit is worthwhile.
Timeline: How quickly is the lead looking to implement a solution? They may be waiting for the next calendar year or may have an immediate need to solve a problem.
Create A Sales Playbook
While you don’t want to take away the creativity or personalized approach from great salespeople, there needs to be a playbook available that outlines the sales process for your organization, and at a minimum, that should include:
Email templates for initial and follow-up contact
Call scripts to help direct inbound and outbound sales calls
Qualifying questions to determine a sales lead’s worth
Cheatsheets with key facts about different industries or customer personas
The major benefit of a sales playbook is getting new salespeople up to speed and introducing them to the most effective methods you’ve found in selling your SaaS service.
A sales playbook should be a living document that can be adjusted as salespeople find new or alternative methods to increase sales.
Set Goals For Your Sales Team
Setting goals and targets for your sales team is a must to ensure that everybody knows what is expected of them, and tracking those goals and the methods used helps determine a number of essential things for your SaaS sales team.
Is your SaaS sales team all performing at expected levels?
Which sales methods are working the best?
Which markets are pulling in the most revenue?
Hire The Right SaaS Sales Team
One of the first things you need to ask yourself is how you will structure your sales organization, and often that comes down to how many people you’re looking to hire straight away.
For new sales teams, it will typically be a smaller team to start that needs to expand later, so consider different skillsets for each of your salespeople so that future expansion allows them to focus on different areas with larger teams under them.
Often hiring a SaaS sales manager and several intermediate to senior salespeople can be a more effective way to boost sales quickly, especially if you’re looking to utilize various methods and sales channels.
Later you can split out your SaaS sales team into more specialized parts of the sales cycle, such as:
Lead Generation to bring in sales leads
Sales Development to make the initial sale
Account Ownership to manage existing accounts
Customer Success to ensure that customers are happy and utilizing your service effectively.
Required Skills In Finding SaaS Salespeople
When interviewing salespeople for your SaaS sales team, you should focus on several areas to ensure a good fit for your sales organization.
Technical Ability: Do they have the technical skills to be able to demo and talk authoritatively about your SaaS service. While they may not know your service right now, they should have a general understanding of SaaS technology and be able to figure out SaaS systems without major issues.
They Should understand your buyer. Not every salesperson you hire needs to have experience with your specific product, but they should have experience in speaking to who will need your product the most. CEOs are different than engineering teams, and knowing the pain points of each will help onboard sales reps faster.
Lead Qualifying Skills: Understanding and having the ability to qualify leads is a key part of the sales process; if salespeople are focusing on the wrong leads, their ability to sell your service will not meet your needs. Consider taking them through a few scenarios of different personas and see how they would handle each lead.
Previous SaaS Experience: Ideally, you’re looking for candidates with previous SaaS sales experience. It will be important to understand their targets and how well they met those in their last organization.
While it may not be possible to reach out to a previous employee, can the candidate sell you their last SaaS service and see how effective you find their sales skills.
Automate To Increase Efficiency
You should be automating any repetitive sales tasks that don’t need an initial personal touch. Often follow-up emails or initial inbound lead generation through social media or landing pages is a great area to automate.
Automating parts of your sales process frees up time for your SaaS sales team to focus on qualified leads and make sales.
Review your sales process and determine what could be automated.
Search for effective software that can be used for one or more automations.
Determine the effectiveness of your automation in your overall sales process.
Final Thoughts On Building An Effective SaaS Sales Team
An effective SaaS sales team will only be as good as the processes put in place, and the methods used are repeatable by any salesperson that steps into the role.
In many SaaS sales organizations, salespeople may only stay around for two years before moving on to new opportunities, so heavily investing in individuals for long-term success is not ideal.
Building the best sales process, having effective sales tools, and adjusting to change will give your SaaS sales team the best results.