How do you win with a high-velocity sales strategy in a fast-moving, competitive market? What are common pitfalls to avoid, and how can teams maximize efficiency and meet quota?

In a special session of Workshop Wednesday, Gorgias Founder & CEO Romain Lapeyre and Gorgias VP of Sales & Partnerships Aasif Osmany share their learnings, advice, and hacks for optimizing your sales process.

SaaStr Workshop Wednesdays are LIVE every Wednesday. Sign up for free.

1. Focus!

No matter where you are in the life of your company, you need to keep the big problem you are solving for your customer as your North Star. This means knowing what problem you are solving and who you are solving it for. Keep redefining it. Osmany explains, “When you want to go after the entire market, it’s easy to get really excited. So you need to know what are the problems you’re solving, who are you solving for, and then continue to keep refining it so you have a very efficient funnel.” 

This goes beyond focusing on your TAM.  Here’s what to consider:

  1. Pain: The first thing every business should consider is the pain point. Does it hurt enough for buyers to switch to a new solution? Gorgias, an eCommerce customer service platform, discovered that their customers’ main pain points were a lack of centralized customer support channels and poor integrations.

  2. Industry: You need to know exactly where in the industry you fall. For example, Gorgias knew they were targeting not only eCommerce but also customer service.

  3. Platform: Will any integrations or partnerships be beneficial or a “must” to attract customers? Gorgias knew that their target audience widely used Shopify as a platform, so they built integrations with Shopify to meet this critical customer need. Don’t waste your team’s time building integrations that don’t matter; start with the mission-critical integrations first.

  4. Persona: Once you understand your industry, pain points, and integration needs, focus on an even narrower lens: Who specifically are you talking to? Who will be looking for this product? Who is the likely and ideal buyer? Gorgias defined their top personas as customer service managers and directors of e-commerce.
  5. Segment: What segment are you pursuing? SMB? Mid-Market? Enterprise? Avoid burning out your team by trying to attack all these at once. Know where you’re going for faster, more effective market movement. It’s better to start getting traction in a small TAM than spread yourself too thin, too early.

2. Hiring the Right AEs

When it comes to recruiting a sales team, companies will often hire for particular experience. However, for high-velocity sales, Gorgias hires based on energy and personal qualities. Lapeyre explains, “What’s interesting in the case of Gorgias is that even though it’s very high-velocity, our customers love to speak with people who understand the product.” 

Given the nature of the low ACVs and buyers without massive teams to handle a long sales cycle, most Gorgias customers will want to speak with a savvy person at one time who can simply explain the product and answer specific questions. This buyer preference influences the type of AE that Gorgias hires: “We hired people who were more [likely to take] the “selling is helping” approach…not so much the convincing. We would rather have people who are really good at asking questions and understanding problems than people who are really good at completing,” Lapeyre says. 

Here are the things that Gorgias looks for first in an AE:

  • Values: Customer-first, extreme ownership, maximizing impact, striving for excellence.
  • Profile: Hungry/Motivated, scrappy, smart, entrepreneurial, team player, passionate, inquisitive.
  • Skills: Self-starter, data-driven, tech-savvy, strong sales skills, critical thinker, problem-solver, fast learner.
  • SaaS Experience: NOT REQUIRED. The top performers at Gorgias don’t come from a SaaS background, but they tend to understand a product and can help customers with questions.

3. Using Your Tech Stack to Make AEs Superheroes

Automating as much of the sales process as possible, as early as possible, will give you a major leg up. You’ll need a strong tech stack that supports your AEs in filling quotas, delivering good-quality demos, and sending great follow-ups. 

Gorgias began using tech tools that helped them automate their process, and they could track data about their customers and sales process more efficiently. Using data, they found that the best way to get a conversion was to give a free trial, plug in certain channels, and allow the customer to use the product. 

Automation, especially in the early days, will help with high-velocity selling. For example, automating outbound efforts is extremely helpful. Osmany says, “Building an outbound engine is something that I think is really important. So many teams are hiring SDR/BDR teams, and it’s really tough to make that work in SMB sales. The unit economics don’t really line up, and if you have a $3,000 ACV, you have to find ways to become more efficient.” 

4 . Objective Deal Stages

Deal stages should be as objective as possible. This helps you avoid situations where there are constant debates between an AE and the Sales Manager about where a deal is in the funnel, thereby causing confusion and slowing things down. Creating obvious milestones will help keep things moving.

For example, Gorgias has the following deal stages:

  1. The “Demo Booked” stage means the meeting has been set up on the calendar.
  2. The “Internal Review” stage means that a meeting has occurred.
  3. The “Account Created” stage means the client created a trial account.
  4. “Closed Won” means that the paid date is known.

Since everything here is defined and automated, it helps keep things moving and keeps things objective. This will also provide helpful information: for example, Gorgias discovered that customers who reached the “Account Created” stage were very likely to convert. 

Note: Objective deal stages may work best with SMBs. This is because Enterprise and some mid-market customers will have longer sales cycles and many stakeholders. 

5. Make It Simple!

Simplicity often yields the best results. Firstly, payment should be easy for customers. Allowing monthly subscriptions is important, and credit card payments are key.

The same philosophy also applies to your AE comp plans –– they should easily be able to calculate how much they will make. (For example, an AE can easily determine they will make $X for hitting quota and X% accelerator for every dollar closed over.)

Finally, for marketing, reduce the fields and complexity in the intake form. Ask for as little information as possible, and plan on asking in the demo. 

6. Listen to Your Sales Leader

Ther needs to be strong trust between the Founder and the Sales Leader. The CEO and Head of Sales should communicate regularly, with weekly 1:1 meetings at minimum. CEOs should listen to their Sales Leader’s feedback, especially if they are still trying to find product-market fit. Your sales team can help with your positioning and messaging to the market.

This means that executives need to enable sales leaders to build. They may configure the CRM, modify the sales cycles, update standard pitch wording, and create the proper outbound motion. Trust in their expertise since they are the closest to the process.

CEOs should also challenge sales leaders to try new experiments, increase their close rates, and boost ACVs.

7. Track Everything Using Playbooks

Data can make or break your sales efforts, so track everything using playbooks. These playbooks can help clarify previous unknowns and reveal tactics that help drive close rates. For example, here is a sample of the tracking playbook that Gorgias uses for buyers who booked a demo:

  • Need: Why is someone showing up for the meeting?
  • Company Size: How many people work at this company?
  • Persona: Who are we speaking to? What pre-determined persona do they fit into?
  • Title: Workplace role
  • Expected Close Date: When the expected decision comes whether they will buy or no
  • Closed Lost Reasons: If the close is lost, why?

After using their tracking playbook, Gorgias got vital insights into their process:

  1.  The close rate is 30% higher for companies with 25 – 30 people. So top-of-the-funnel efforts would focus on similar-size buyers.
  2. The close rate is down on 200+ people companies but doubles when there are four stakeholders on the call. 

Leverage information like this to optimize your machine and double down on where things are working.

8. Calculating the Right Metrics

When you’re tracking everything, it can be hard to distinguish what’s really important. Osmany feels that many businesses calculate their close rate in a less-than-helpful way for high-velocity sales. 

Most people calculate it this way:

(Number of Deals Closed won) / (the Number of Deals in Closed Won + Closed Lost. )

This method should still be tracked, but it is a lagging indicator of where you’re going.

Here is how Gorgias does it:

Close Rate = (Number of Deals Closed Won) / (Total Number of Deals Created for Set Date Range)

By calculating the close rate this way, you can see your performance more clearly, at an earlier time. It’s your leading indicator telling you if you are up or down within a time frame, and ultimately, it helps you get ahead of problems before they grow. 

9. Know Your Levers

Sales Leaders need to understand their levers so that if they see a problem, they can still address it. Is there a drop in the close rate? Take a look at lead qualification, attendance rate, and stage progression. What about a decrease in ACV? Review your data to see if the large contracts aren’t closing, if large deals are being sourced at all, or if perhaps there is a big spike in small deals. 

10. Keep Experimenting

Don’t be afraid to iterate or pivot, depending on what your data and customers tell you. Many factors may need to be adjusted over time, but don’t worry –– it’s an ongoing process. Continue tracking key indicators, listening to customers, and acting based on your data, and you’ll continue to be successful. 

Key Takeaways

  • Drill down and focus on what problem you are solving for your customers. Don’t be afraid to segment!
  • Hire AEs based on personality, not experience alone.
  • Track everything and review your data to get the best insights on how to optimize your sales process.

Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT, SaaStr holds live, interactive workshops where experts in the community share their insights. Sign up for free HERE!

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