How the Growth of SaaS Makes Life More Difficult for Customers and What to Do About It

When I was the sales leader at ion interactive, even our smartest customers sometimes asked me questions that, at the time, seemed pretty clueless. For example, I’d often get calls from prospects asking “So wait, how are you different from Google Analytics?” In my head (though thankfully never out loud) I’d be screaming: “I just told you! We’re nothing like them. We’re a software that makes a calculator or a logic-driven assessment without code. You can’t do anything like that with Google Analytics!” I would get off calls like that and immediately go to our homepage. Yes, right there on the home page it was clear. What our product did, the challenges it solved, who it solved them for, the benefits of it. Clearly spelled out. How could a buyer be confused? Then, our martech SaaS company was acquired, and I accidentally became a SaaS consultant. Suddenly I
Continue reading "How the Growth of SaaS Makes Life More Difficult for Customers and What to Do About It"

You Have to Train Reps 3-10. They Won’t Train Themselves.

There’s a slide I see again and again from start-ups:  2 of the early sales reps are at 100% of quota, sometimes 150%-200%.  And 8 others? 10%-40%. What’s happening here?  Are 2 of the first 10 reps really so much better as the rest?  Well yes, probably.  You’ll continue to see that over time to some extent.  The top reps will way outperform the average reps.  But not this much.  So why so often, do only 2 of the first 8-10 sales reps perform?  And the others perform so poorly vs. the 2 that are doing well? Almost always there is a strong correlation to No Training. The first 2 scaled reps you hire that hit plan (some may churn before then) get special training.  They get CEO training.  They get CTO training.  They sit next to the founders,
Continue reading "You Have to Train Reps 3-10. They Won’t Train Themselves."

This “Unfair” Advantage Separates Top-Notch Sales Teams from The Rest

Imagine you’re part of a Grand Prix race through the winding streets of Monaco. You’ve got the fastest, most exotic car. The best crew. Powerful fuel. And you’ve been training for years. But, while your rivals zip along the harbor like electric slot cars, you sputter along at a crawl. It turns out, your wheels aren’t perfectly aligned. They’re each set in slightly different directions, creating tremendous friction. And it costs you the race. Racing cars isn’t unlike the race to market leadership. You need a great product (car). A winning team (crew). Funding from supportive investors (fuel). And spades of experience. But if your competitors have those things, too, who makes it across the finish line first? The company with a fully-aligned sales organization, marching in the same direction. Let me explain.

The Most Overlooked Trait of Market Leaders

Market-leading companies have an underestimated trait in common: Organization-wide
Continue reading "This “Unfair” Advantage Separates Top-Notch Sales Teams from The Rest"

Your Product Has to Be Easier to Buy Than to Use

Lately we’ve been leveling up a lot of our systems at SaaStr, and as part of that, moving from a lot of self-service and simple products to more robust ones.  Such is the way as you grow.  And one thing I’ve been shocked about is how few sales processes have kept us.  Pressure tactics, exploding discounts, 48 hour trials that end on you, us-vs-them pricing, are all still alive and well.  And in the end in 2018, they can create a buying process that for us at least, is just way too hard and long. At this point, everyone is a SaaS buying veteran.  According to research from Talkdesk, the average company deploys more than 50 SaaS products.  And according to OKTA, most industries have over 1,000 SaaS distinct vendors in them.  We’ve all learned to buy SaaS.  Now, it’s time to
Continue reading "Your Product Has to Be Easier to Buy Than to Use"

Sales Coaching for the Digital Age

Maintaining a position of preeminence in the highly competitive IT industry requires leaders to adapt to changes in the business landscape more rapidly than the competition. Continued success also relies on innovative sales enablement techniques that boost performance, help meet customer needs and achieve bottom line results. While many corporate sales enablement functions are already leveraging state-of-the-art enablement mechanisms, like online and virtual trainings, chat bots etc., most are still missing an important ingredient: coaching. An analysis published by the Harvard Business Review revealed in 2011 that, coaching “can improve performance up to 19%…even moderate improvement in coaching quality—simply from below to above average—can mean a six to eight percent increase in performance across 50% of your sales force”. By marrying sales coaching techniques with data analytics and insights, an even higher sales performance improvement can be realized. So how can you drive sales performance improvement through
Continue reading "Sales Coaching for the Digital Age"

How We Reduced Sales Ramp Time By 40%

One of the biggest challenges for any scaling company is to bring a new sales rep up to speed quickly. Decreasing the time to productivity for new reps is crucial to meeting ever-expanding goals and closing more deals. While building a strong onboarding program that includes knowledge acquisition and skill development is key to sales ramp, it’s only part of the process. Measuring performance and progress throughout this period is also critical. Lessonly, like many other growth-focused companies, has tested processes, measures, and individual plans to evaluate the growth and ramp performance of our scaling sales team.

Identify key measurements

When it comes time to track ramping quotas, sales leaders have an abundance of data at their fingertips. It’s important to put time and consideration into choosing the data that will provide the most insight into sales rep productivity throughout the entire sale cycle. While this may take some trial
Rep scoring data
Combined data score
Team data
Template_ AE Review Monthly Scorecard
Continue reading "How We Reduced Sales Ramp Time By 40%"

Here’s How to Decide if You’re Ready to Bring in Sales Leadership

To sell or not to sell – that is the question among startup founders. As a founder and former sales leader, I get asked all the time how I decided to step back from my sales role and add a layer between me and my sales reps. When I founded ion interactive, I just sort of organically moved into the sales role. Why not? I had a strong sales background, and who knew the product better than me? From there, I personally sold and assisted my newly hired AEs with their deals for several years as I built a sales team, and I never had a self-imposed deadline for when I would relinquish my sales role. What I did have was a drive to hire, retain and nurture a high-performing team that would allow me to step back from running my own deals. I stopped selling gradually as I had more
Continue reading "Here’s How to Decide if You’re Ready to Bring in Sales Leadership"

Maybe in 2018, Every SaaS Contract Should Have An Automatic Out Clause

Lately at SaaStr, we’ve become more and more buyers of SaaS software ourselves.  Our own tiny little team and organization has grown, and we have to start putting the infrastructure in place for a $20m+ business. And it’s been a vivid reminder of what I hate so much about buying software:
  • Vendors selling you software you never use or deploy.
  • Salespeople pushing you to sign multi-year contracts you don’t want.
  • Less tech-savvy buyers being told software does things it doesn’t do.
  • Being “qualified out” by a BDR.
  • Not being able to talk to a salesperson, having to go through a BDR.
  • Not being able to do a free trial, or even really try out a product first.
  • A salesperson discouraging you from doing a free trial, even when one is available.
  • A salesperson discouraging a pilot, even when one is possible.
The list goes on.  Traditional SaaS sales Continue reading "Maybe in 2018, Every SaaS Contract Should Have An Automatic Out Clause"

The sales rep exodus is coming… here’s how to stop it.

Every year around this time, I see a lot of messages that look like this: Sales exodus January This isn’t a rep who is failing and has to make a move… it’s a talented person who will be actively open to/looking for a new role because something is missing in his current one. Folks, there is a strong chance you have reps in your own startup that are thinking this exact thing right now. And it’s not good, because it is VERY expensive to churn salespeople – especially the good ones. It’s not all doom and gloom though – you can flip this script if you do the right work now to close out the year without hemorrhaging your prized sales performers. Here’s what I recommend.

Why your salespeople are leaving at the end of the year.

It’s been said that “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” I couldn’t agree more.
Why do professionals leave their jobs
Continue reading "The sales rep exodus is coming… here’s how to stop it."