In the early days of a SaaS startup, you may make sales based on the founder’s relationships and vision, referrals of enthusiastic early adopters, and the hard work of a small, high-performing team.
But, just as with every other aspect of the business, in order to grow beyond the scrappy start-up phase, you have to be able to scale. For the sales operation, this means hiring, onboarding, and ramping up new sales reps.
And the more effectively you do that, the more effectively you can scale your business overall.
Step One: Invest in an Effective Sales Strategy
Your sales strategy defines how you sell, to whom, where, and with what positioning and messaging. It also establishes profit, revenue, and other sales goals.
Early SaaS sales strategy may sometimes be creative, as the ICP (Ideal Customer Fit) and product offering are being created.
Once you are in the scale-up mode, your SaaS sales strategy must target the buyers you can help the most and allow you to focus your energy and investments where you can win repeatedly and profitably. Without this, you’ll be stuck hoping to recruit a superstar salesperson who can rock the numbers without guidance or support… and that is not an effective scale-up strategy.
Step Two: Capture your Winning Sales Methodology
The odds are high that someone on your start-up team knows how to sell. But they may not know what it is that they do so effectively that works.
It pays to invest in identifying which sales practices and behaviors (sales methodology) are getting results for your existing sales team and document it. That said, there are several field-tested sales methodologies that you can adapt if you can’t design your own.
Step Three: Establish a Sales Process Aligned with Strategy, and Embed Your Best Practices
Too often, SaaS companies rely on the intuition and skills of an existing team of salespeople to execute the sales strategy without much guidance. This is like relying on hopes and prayers to bring in profit and revenue.
It may be effective in the short term with a small team, but to scale up with new sales reps, you must have clearly articulated and effective sales processes in place.
A sales team mainly works within three workflows: prospecting, opportunity management, and account growth. Within each workflow, you need a sales process with stages, steps, and milestones necessary to align with prospects and guide them toward helpful decisions involving your offerings.
Milestones are like stages within stages. For instance, during the “prospect” stage, you might include milestones such as “determine ICP fit,” “phrase value hypothesis,” and “identify and contact primary stakeholders.”
Only when all the milestones are met can the prospect move to the next stage. And these milestones need to align with how your potential buyers will make decisions, or you risk being out of sync and ending up with many “no decisions.”
Steps are the individual activities and actions salespeople take to complete the milestones.
Step Four: Make Your Sales Process the Salesperson’s Workflow
If your salespeople have to consult a dusty guide on a shelf, or download a training manual, in order to follow your process, the reality is: They won’t.
In order for a sales process to be effective, it must become part of the salesperson’s daily workflow and routine. The fastest way to do that, and to ramp up new salespeople into the established sales process, is to make the process come to life directly into the workflows they operate out of every day.
A good workflow tool will let you build, customize, and optimize the stages, milestones, steps, and activities that work for your team, and make it easy and intuitive for them to use. It will connect directly to your CRM database so that you can integrate communications and activities with the checklists, visualizations, and reports your salespeople need on a daily basis.
Step Five: Train to the Process and Upskill as Necessary
Scaling up a SaaS business requires something better than generic sales training. You need your sales training to give new sales reps exactly what they need, when they need it, to effectively execute the sales process that you know works.
Invest in sales training that gets them using the process quickly, and reinforce it with training embedded into the same workflows that guide them through the process.
With the right process tools, you can also use analytics and reports to see where salespeople need more help, upskilling, and coaching.
Step Six: Embed Training and Coaching Content Into the Same Workflow
When you know what skills and training your salespeople use most often, you can create evergreen content that enables them to self-serve training exactly when they need it during their work day.
Likewise, you can empower them to reach out to their coaching resources when they hit a rough spot or have questions from within the same workflow.
Step Seven: Enable Coaches to Coach Effectively
Sales coaching is the amplifier for all of your training and sales efforts. A great coach will help your new sales reps get up to speed and produce new revenue in record time. Unfortunately, few companies invest in training coaches to coach.
Too often, we promote star salespeople to become sales managers and then fail to offer them support and guidance in how to make the transition to this very different role.
To ramp up your sales reps quickly and scale your SaaS company, you need to invest in training and coaching your coaches to train and coach your salespeople. You also need to provide them with the time and compensate them for supporting and enabling their team.
Step Eight: Improve Continuously and Rapidly
With your strategy, process, training, and coaching aligned and operating out of a shared workflow, you’re well-positioned not only to scale up your existing sales process but to improve it rapidly. All you need is the right analytics and the flexibility to update your workflows in real-time.
The right workflow tools will enable you to easily see where your sales slow down, when and how often, which competitors you struggle against, which industries you win with most often, where in your process sales are being lost, and much more.
Armed with this information and a tool that enables you to update your process easier, you can tweak the process continues to increase win rates, improve sales velocity, and better equip new sales reps to scale your organization as far as you can dream for it to go.
Scaling a SaaS business involves many moving parts, of which one of the biggest is scaling up the sales team. In order to ramp up new sales reps quickly, you must have:
- A clear sales strategy
- An effective, repeatable process aligned with the strategy and based on winning sales practices (methodology)
- A workflow tool to guide salespeople through the process
- Training aligned with the process and methodology
- The ability to embed on-demand training and coaching into the salespeople’s workflow
- Excellent coaches and coaching support
- Continuous improvement