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GTM, Sales

Play Angry Birds and Scale your SaaS Sales

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design


Best practices gained from working with dozens of SaaS Sales organizations on how to build, scale and onboard a SaaS sales team.

If you are in SaaS Sales, such as inside sales or customer success, this post is for you.  It contains valuable lessons learned, the hard way, by working with hundreds of your peers who have gone before you, and have the scars to prove it.

Simple steps to scaling SaaS teams

  1. Figure out what it takes to be successful
  2. Bring on a team
  3. Get the team to do more of what it takes to be successful

Three situations that keep everyone up at night

I mean these 3 steps sound simple enough right!  So what is the problem? Well these simple steps cause three incredible difficult challenges that EVERY SaaS Sales/Customer Success leader is dealing with, right NOW:

  • Not knowing exactly what it takes to be successful yet.  You need your sales team to help you find that out. However scaling a sales team to figure that out – before you figure it out – is very expensive and time consuming.  You have neither the money nor are you given the time.
  • Unable to recruit a team fast enough. Candidates either do not warrant the investment ($80,000 – $140,000 ), or they lack domain experience resulting in a long ramp time (3 to 6 months). While “hot” companies around you are hiring 100+ people a month, you are having trouble hiring a single POD of 6!
  • The team in place does not perform as advertised.  You implemented a proven SaaS GTM model, you are running an activity driven organization that is hitting its activity goals, and still your team gets to only about 40-60% of their target. On top of that the results fluctuate seemingly random, and even the superstars on your team struggle to perform consistently.

Oh… and guess what, just as you have fully trained sales teams, your top performers start to leave for a better ($) opportunity next door, and you now have to backfill the positions immediately.  WTF!

Welcome to the new NEW: SaaS 3.0

Welcome to the new SaaS 3.0 world, a world where complimentary lunches and an unlimited supply of nerf guns no longer are going to help you. It’s time to properly design a process around the new norm in SaaS.

The keys to performance in SaaS 3.0

  • Everyone must contribute: First of all success in SaaS 3.0 can no longer be dependent on a few superstars (Rainmakers).  In traditional B2B sales 20% of the performers, are responsible for 80% of the revenue.  This approach no longer works in volume based sales.  You need to build a system where all performers contribute customer success stories. Forget the 20/80 rule its 80/80!
  • It must be self guided: You need to be able to plug and play new team members that learn automatically, on the job, without having to put them through weeks/months of training.  Do you learn how to operate your phone from a manual? How to install a new App?  There is no more RTFM.  Similar you need to develop a self guided system for success, training on the job, and every day you will learn more.
  • Self Improving: This approach needs to improve on itself, if one tactic that worked 2 weeks ago, no leads to a dead-end.  Then your team like a living organism, needs to find a new way to success.  You can’t wait for the 2016 Sales Kick Off to figure it out.  We call this a self learning organization.

Oh and you need this RIGHT NOW and operate at REASONABLE COST! Right?

Stop playing Chess. Start playing Angry Birds

For far too long have we been playing business as if we are playing Chess. Chess strategies are impacting every part of the business, and it is costing us dearly. Instead in SaaS 3.0 we see better results using Angry Birds as the business model.

Want to join the conversation?  We are putting together a Best Practice session on August 19 (San Francisco) and August 20 (Palo Alto) where we are bringing together sales, and customer success leaders who like to benefit from the lessons gained.  In this session we categorize the learnings as follows:

  • Skills: What are the latest sales and customer success skill training all SaaS 3.0 teams are aching for, how are they doing it.  What is working and what is not working (Hint: Annual training is NOT working)
  • Tools: Demonstration of, and sharing by attendees of some of the latest SaaS 3.0 tools that can help you scale right NOW (Hint: Playbooks alone are not good enough)
  • Content: Present examples of how does great training content look like (Hint: It’s a lot shorter than you think), what has proven NOT to work.
  • Organization: How to recruit, onboard, structure and compensate a SaaS 3.0 sales and customer success organization.
  • Process: The latest updates in customer centric sales processes. If we can’t reproduce it, it does not matter.

How? Contact me via LinkedIn

We generally keep the groups to about 20-30 guests to increase engagement and interaction. Please send me an InMail request for an invitation if you like to attend.