Q: What sales tactics that are taught to new salespeople bother you enough that you refuse to use them?
A few that I think really do you a disservice in SaaS, especially before you have a huge brand:
- “Be careful of prospects that waste your time.” Yes, your time is precious in sales. But this is backwards. Almost no one wants to waste a salesperson’s time. Talking to sales isn’t fun. It’s not TikTok. A prospect inbounds because they have a need. Maybe they are a smaller business than you’d like, or need more time than you’d prefer. But their business is just as important to them as a larger company. Treat each prospect with respect. Watch your sales go up. More here.
- Selling a feature you haven’t used yourself. There is no excuse, folks. Don’t talk about a product or feature you haven’t used. Don’t be so lazy. This is SaaS. Fire up your web browser and actually try it. And for real. Use it as if you were a prospect / customer.
- Insta-discounting. Yes, discounting is part of most sales toolkits. But you don’t go there first. You go there last. And you do it fairly. A discount does not create a sale. It does not save a sale. It rarely beats the competition. What it really does is create urgency to close.
- Relying on SDRs to always qualify your deals. Yes, SDRs are great. But they aren’t always there, they don’t always do the full job, etc. It’s still your job to own the sale.
- Competiton bashing (too quickly at least). Yes, FUD and competition bashing can work. But if you aren’t good at it, it can also backfire. And it can immediately damage your brand if done wrong. Don’t start there at least until you know the space cold. Once you are a true expert, you can truly lay out the case for why you are better. And where they are truly weak. But you really need to know the space cold to do this well.
- Scheduling Zooms and calls at times that are convenient for the AE. No. Your schedule may be busy, but the prospect needs to feel like you are there for them. At least give them a lot of times to pick from. Don’t send a “pick a time that works for me” link.
- “Work around the [internal] system, it’s too slow.”. Many reps are taught where possible to sort of bypass the CPQ system, the approval process, legal etc. where practical. Yes, they can slow down a deal. But doing this damages the integrity of the company as a whole.
- “The CEO is too busy to help.” Maybe not. If it’s a key logo, she’ll probably want to help. If it’s a deep product question that others might not get, she might enjoy helping. Don’t send the CEO a Slack asking her to do something for you. But a question or two a month that respects her time, that helps close a deal? Until the sales team is huge, she’s probably happy to help where a few minutes of her knowledge and unique skills can help you close a deal.
- “Send break-up emails to qualify out prospects in your pipe”. Some will say this works, but IME, never send an email that insults a prospect’s time. Just don’t send the email instead. You may want to know if it’s time to break up. But that doesn’t help the prospect, does it?
- “Dump everyone into an automated cadence.” This is the worst. No. Tools like Mixmax, Salesloft and Outreach are insanely powerful. But they have to be used correctly. They do not replace 1-on-1 emails, 1-on-1 Zooms, and 1-on-1 interactions. They augment them. You should not be doing fewer personalized emails because you use a tool. You should be doing more of them, because a tool frees you up. Just sending a cadence is not sales.
And let me add an 11th, which has become a high issue these days, as growth rates for many has slowed:
- Sell them too much stuff / extra stuff they don’t need. Way, way too many reps are selling the wrong editions, too many seats, and extra cost features the customers don’t remotely need. This backfires at renewal time, at upsell time, and at referral time.
We’re getting to the point in the cycle where almost every 2023 renewal from an existing vendor is a threat
Got another today
Told us we needed to renew for 2 years, upgrade to an enterprise edition, and use a second product we’ve never used and can’t even use
It’s gotta stop
— Jason ✨Be Kind✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) April 11, 2023
As a founder/CEO, just be wary when you hear too much of this going on. I know a lot of folks in sales will challenge some of this list. And many of these tactics may help some reps in the short-term. But you have to go long.
If you see too many on these common tactics, it’s probably time to step in and change things.
The customer experience needs to come first. You want everyone to love your product. Not just the ones that can close this month, for the most money.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post / answer)