For SaaS businesses, you won’t have customers without solid sales strategies that works cohesively with your marketing and communications strategies.
For that reason, sales can be intimidating, especially when you’re working within a small and lean team. But it doesn’t have to be. We asked some of our favorite sales and business development pros to share their best sales strategies for anyone just getting started. Here’s what they have learned!
Steli Efti @ Close.io
The most important skill in sales is listening. Really listening to your prospects and understanding them deeply. The second most important skill is asking the right questions. Honing these skills is much more important than smooth talk and charisma.
If you want successful sales strategies, train yourself to perform consistently. Continuous improvement day after day is what leads to surefire success, not occasional heroic sales stunts.
For tools, I like easy-to-use, simple solutions that help me to perform the most important tasks faster and better. I see a lot of salespeople fall in love with powerhouse tools that enable them to do everything, then they waste so much time tinkering around with these fascinating tools instead of closing deals. For me, the more time I spend communicating with prospects, instead of filling out forms, researching, or using tools, the more deals I close.
The two tools I use every single day are FollowUp.cc, which allows you to file, sort, and schedule emails, and Close.io. Both of these tools are putting my ability to communicate with prospects on steroids.
When you’re trying to do everything, you probably aren’t doing anything really well. Focus on the 20% of activities that create 80% of the revenue, and double down on that for a successful sales strategy. Or else, it’s so easy to lose your focus.
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross is one of the best books on B2B sales strategies. My free startup sales course has helped thousands of founders and B2B sales reps to improve their sales game. The Ultimate Startup Guide to Outbound Sales is another favorite.
Rob Long @ Workable
Workable is a SaaS product designed for startups and SMEs across every sector. Many of those companies simply don’t know that an affordable tool like Workable exists to help them manage their hiring better. Getting awareness and traction with the traditional early adopters — earlier stage growth tech companies who are more proactive in trying out new products and tools — would be easy by comparison.
We’re always looking for new ways to find and engage with potential customers. We provide them with resources like our Job Description Compendium and Startup Hiring Guide to support them in a meaningful way. It’s not a hard sell, it’s helping them and letting them know that when they need us we’re here, our tool can help and we don’t bite.
We use Mention for media monitoring and social listening. It’s a great tool for discovering what hiring challenges people are facing. We help these people by signposting resources, providing advice, or suggesting they try out Workable. Mention enables us to find those touch points and react quickly. Without Mention, those people would be invisible to us.
Pipedrive has worked well for us as a CRM. It’s easy-to-use, not overcomplicated, and functional. I’ve heard people refer to Pipedrive as the Workable of CRMs. Pipedrive is a bit older than us so maybe it’s the other way round!
I have Yesware and Rapportive plugged into Gmail for learning more about my prospect’s interests and how they’re interacting with my emails. I also like what Ben Sardella is doing at Datanyze. Join.me, a screenshare and conference call app, has worked well for demos.
When you’re new in a field, there is so much to learn. And in a startup, change is constant. It’s important to test what you’re doing. But don’t spend all your time time testing and optimizing for negligible improvements, spend more time time just doing and iterating.
In addition to Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Taylor, I’d suggest reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
Edouard Rosenblum @ breaz.io
In the SaaS Market, the two biggest challenges for a sales manager are qualifying leads and onboarding.
Leads qualification because it’s a waste of time not to talk with the most interested prospects. Onboarding because I strongly believe that a client makes up his mind immediately after signing up, or during the signup process.
At breaz, we’ve clearly defined the onboarding process step by step. We’ve noticed great improvements in securing customers since we’ve done that.
We use media monitoring, Mention specifically, to identify new prospects on Twitter and jump into important conversations, and have seen our lead response rate increase by five times as a result. We’re also using Pipedrive for CRM and Streak for partnerships & PR.
The one thing I wish I knew when getting started that in sales, you should be a better listener instead of a great talker.
The best piece of advice I can give someone just getting started in sales is that a few people really need your product. You always have to understand how your product will help them in their business. Telling the same story to every single customer won’t work — adapt your speech and push where it’s painful.
Another thing is give options. People are more likely to decide faster when they have plan options at different price points.
Vincent Le Hénaff @ Mention
The main challenge for business developers is to maintain follow up with your clients on a regularly basis in order to understand their needs and to ensure your service brings their company value.
Maintaining follow up with your customers on the long term after they subscribe, upgrade, or buy, is crucial to maintaining a strong relationship and a large degree of involvement with your service. This effort helps to develop brand advocates and to reduce your churn rate.
To overcome this challenge, you have to understand your customer’s journey to identify the best time to interact with them. Analytics tools such as KISSmetrics combined with messaging tools such as Intercom can help with this.
For lead generation, I use Mention. It allows me to monitor several topics linked with our industry and identify conversations to jump into and share information about monitoring services, while interacting with potential clients.
Pocket is a great tool for avoiding distractions, allowing you to save all the interesting videos, posts, and articles you come across throughout the day for later. Combining this tool with Mention makes a lot of sense in order to manage the quantity of information you receive each day.
We use Intercom to easily connect with our customers in an informal way. You can segment your customers based on where they are in their journey and send them in-app or email messages in any format, including plain email, while tracking open and click rates.
Pipedrive is great for keeping an eye on all of your deals and staying on track with your clients. I also like using Yesware as reminder tool.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to listen to your customers and only speak about the product features that answers their needs. Listing of all the features of your product will not convince your customer of its value; it will only bore them after a couple of minutes.
The resources I’d suggest for sales strategies check out is Predictable Revenue and The Ultimate Startup Guide To Outbound Sales by Steli Efti.
- Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler
What sales strategies do you have for people just getting started in SaaS sales and business development?