How To Systematically Set Your SAAS Sales Up For Explosive Growth

How To Systematically Set Your SAAS Sales Up For Explosive Growth

Did you know that over 80% of Series A companies fail?  

Think about all of the sweat equity you’ve put into building your company through pre-seed, not to mention the countless hours spent pitching to investors to achieve Seed or Series A funding.  You’re now faced with tripling revenue growth this next year because your investors want to see results and the overall odds of success are stacked against you. 

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Do you hurry to hire 15 reps and see which ones make it through to the final round of Hunger Games?  Do you have the sales leadership, training, and revenue operations in place to support that level of hiring?  How much recruitment effort will it take to hire the best rep for your company?

Before you scale your sales team you need to ensure that the following areas are proven within your organization: 

Product Market Fit:  Founders that have proven out their go-to-market strategy, acquired customers themselves have the best chance at being successful when handing the reigns over to their first sales team.  Sales and marketing do have a component of experimentation to it but you shouldn’t rely on your first sales hire to proven market fit for you.  That’s setting them up to fail and for you to spend $100k+ on rep churn and additional priceless go-to-market resources.

How do I know if I have a product-market fit?  Which indicators tell me that we have a winner?

While lagging indicators point to metrics such as revenue, profit, and retention rates, as a software company you should look at the current speedometer. 

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Systematic Growth Leading Indicators

Measuring lagging indicators is helpful when reviewing last year’s results not setting the future state of your business.  Technology markets and buyers are evolving at light speed so how do you know that your customers are currently finding value in your product?  

I recommend that my clients look at the following leading indicators  (Note these should be adjusted based on your overall goals)

  • Meeting Conversion Rates
  • Number of Meetings – 14 Day Lookback 
  • Number of product upgrades recommended 
  • Net Promoter Score
  • Product Adoption Rate

Organizing your sales using as much data modeling as possible is so important so you can prioritize your investment of time and money into the right buckets between increasing the marketing funnel, recruiting for the right sales team, and support ongoing revenue performance.  

At Relativity Sells, I partner with tech startup founders to grow their revenue through this  3-step process which builds the level of sales readiness and ongoing sales leadership a company needs when transitioning from founder-based sales.

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I believe that when setting up your startup to support a sales rep or team it takes a systematic approach to ensure that you’re setting your business and new hire up for success.

Six Ways To Prepare Your Startup For Remarkable Growth In 2021

Six Ways To Prepare Your Startup For Remarkable Growth In 2021

Growing revenue in an early-stage company takes relentless grit, determination, and trust in the sales process. As we start the climb to new goals in the New Year, review your sales engine in the following areas to ensure you’re aligned to crush your goals this year:

  1. Is your Ideal Buyer Persona building your pipeline? Early-stage companies go through many iterations of the ideal buyer persona as they identify their best path to success within an industry. You can’t solve problems for customers that aren’t a good fit for your solution or service so it may take two or three revisions before settling into serving the right client that can 10x your growth. Need to refine your buyer persona in 2021? Hubspot provides a great template for this here.
  2. Forecasting Is A Mix of Mostly Reality With A Bit of Stretch. How was your forecast attainment in 2020? Did you consistently hit or miss your goals? Setting a big, hairy audacious goal can be fun but can also very ineffective and deflating to your revenue team if you’re not forecasting revenue with reality. Imagine ending last year with $400k in revenue and then making a goal in 2021 for your team to hit $4M. No resources to significantly ramp marketing, sales coverage, or operations to fulfill client delivery. WISH is also a four-letter word. Revenue forecasts can be met repeatedly when you have 3x the amount of pipeline to support your sales goal and a strategy around your top accounts and new business acquisition to reach your growth goal. You may want to keep your high revenue forecast for the year but take bets on achieving a smaller number in Q1 to allow your team time to build a supporting, qualified pipeline.
  3. So Many Sales Tools, Free Trials, So Little Time! There are many sales tools on the market today promising to cut your prospecting time in half through their sales intelligence offering, tools for sales leaders when coaching, various flavors of CRMs (customer relationship management), etc. How do you choose the right toolset for your early-stage company? The first step is to identify your ideal customer fit and the experience you want them to have with your company. What are the touchpoints? Work those touchpoints into your overall sales process. Your sales process should be more than “let’s qualify for (BANT) budget, authority, need, time”. The sales process should manage both internal and external needs around the buying cycle for your company’s product/service. Once you have that, you’re ready to build the process into a CRM, like Hubspot, and consistently use it as a guiding star along your sales prospecting journey to the finish line. Sales intelligence tools like Lead IQ, Seamless AI, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are great tools to utilize when you have a sales team heavily focused on prospecting new business. I recommend that my clients use these tools from the beginning as a Founder. Prospect with accuracy and build your winning playbook as you build.
  4. Prove your own model before hiring a sales rep. If you haven’t hired your first salesperson yet, you need to ensure as the Founder/ CEO that you have proved the sales model yourself. Document your processes, playbook to win deals, and ensure that it is repeatable. Too often organizations hire sales reps thinking that they will bring their Rolodex and magically make sales happen when the Founder/ CEO hasn’t proved out their own business. Your success and enthusiasm around proving out your own success in your business will be infectious when the time is right to expand your sales team.
  5. Do I Hire Hunters Or Farmers This Year? Sales roles are dramatically changing. For early-stage tech and SAAS companies, I recommend hiring based on personality for a startup vs. focus on hunter and farmer roles. In a startup, your sales reps will need to be nimble as you grow the company and wear many hats. Your ideal sales rep may be someone that understands marketing and has the skillset to farm an existing account while hunting for new business. You should clearly set guidelines for their job as you can’t expect them to run the company for you but hiring someone that has both the ability and fire to hunt for new business, test new markets while also taking care of long-term customer relationships could be a great fit. Hiring for a Rolodex rarely ever works as quickly as you want it to so hiring for a multi-faceted skillset in early-stage is important. Hiring for sales development reps, sales enablement teams won’t come into play until you move closer to Series C and beyond.
  6. Moving From Founder Sales To Hiring Your First Sales Leader. Did you prove the model and hire a couple of sales reps in 2020, now to find yourself ready to hire your first sales leader? Many early-stage Founders have grown revenue to $2M+ million finding their niche market and now need to move from working in the business to on the business. You’re ready to hire once you have reps to manage or hire a leader. If you’re not ready to hire a full-time sales leader which most Seed, Series A & B companies are not then you may consider a fractional sales leader. This is a growing trend that quite popular on the East Coast, making its way West. Early-stage companies are able to partner with fractional sales leaders that bring deep expertise in growing revenue, leading sales teams, and acting as that cross-functional translator between sales, marketing, and the product team to provide sales enablement. They may support your team 10, 20+ hours per week depending on your needs and are flexible to grow with your organization as you collectively grow the business.

Subscribe to Relativity Consulting’s Blog in January as we take a more in-depth look at growth tactics per startup stage.

Amy Looper, Founder of Relativity Consulting works with innovative technology startups nationwide by providing fractional sales leadership and sales enablement services. She consistently produces award-winning results in highly competitive markets bringing past leadership experience working from a Vista Equity company, working with Fortune 500 companies with global cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks. At Relativity, we are passionate about creating long-term revenue for our clients and operate under a customer-first mentality that elevates sales performance.

How 2020 Was My Best Year Ever!

How 2020 Was My Best Year Ever!

The year 2020…. Who’s tired of talking about the trials and tribulations of this year? I AM!

I’d like to thank 2020 for being perhaps one of the best years of my life. My heart needed this year to re-focus, open up again, and take a breath as a working parent so I put my bets on a big challenge, entrepreneurship. Life hit us all hard this year on so many levels but what if behind the curtain were gifts of stronger leadership, courage, freedom, joy, connectedness that we hadn’t felt in years after going through the motions of the “grind”.

Ryan Buckley, whom I have the great pleasure of interviewing next Wednesday at Skyrocket My Startup wrote The Parallel Entrepreneur in which he describes how you can successfully build a B2B business without capital and gain the control over your destiny that you may be seeking. Just the inspiration I needed this year to shift my mindset as a new entrepreneur. I knew this challenge would bring so much opportunity for growth in all areas of my life.

The Grind

Climbing the career ladder, having kids, losing close family members, learning to juggle personal and professional lives with small kids, etc. It’s exhausting! I reached a point in late 2019 where I didn’t have anymore steam to continue the work pattern I was in. My personal life was suffering from the constant running, schedule coordination with my spouse, constantly high fiving in the hallway, and not truly connecting and enjoying life. I knew I was facing what many of my former corporate colleagues had faced – the point where you choose door #1 or door #2. Do I choose to retain my family unit, take a moment to figure out the right balance, or do I continue down the same path? This would save the high-paying corporate sales income and the career ego but ultimately sacrifice the family unit in our personal scenario.

Superwoman powers, while I’d like to think they exist, I learned this year simply do not. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for women empowerment and encouraging women to flourish in their careers even with a family. I also encourage being true to your heart and giving yourself a moment to breathe, something a lot of us women don’t make room for.

Lessons From Above

My late father in law Jim Looper (Former IT leader at MCI/ Worldcomm) always said, “Amy, we are in the memory-making business”. Jim was completely right and I spent the first few years of my kid’s baby/ toddlerhood in the complete rat race of trying to keep up with it all. In 2020, I’ve been to more parks this year with my kids while juggling consulting work, more dates with my husband, and am proud to say successfully created the balance we were seeking while putting consulting income back into growing my business. The path wasn’t easy as I had to get out of my own way, spend a lot of time learning how to read my own heart, and put down the ego. There is no dollar figure you can put to that except the feeling of living in pure gratitude and freedom.

2020 The Best Year Of My Life!

I dedicate 2020 to being the most pivotal, positive year yet, shedding light on what is truly important. If you’re a working parent reading this that may be feeling completely burned out from juggling changing school schedules, work priorities, etc. I want you to know that in your heart you can find the peace you’ll looking for. Take the walk to unwind, take yourself to breakfast (Moms) to find a moment of peace and clarity without the little people asking for “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”. We are all in this together!

Let’s continue to help one another out, connect with authenticity, and share experiences. If you’re contemplating starting a side hustle, your own business I’m happy to share some of my 1st-year lessons learned and recommend Ryan’s book, The Parallel Entrepreneur. Join us fireside next week at Skyrocket Your Startup. His insight into entrepreneurship as a side hustle while keeping your day job is invaluable.