Some of the ideas in this post are … basic. So forgive me. But I’m going to include some of them as I’ve noticed that as SaaS explodes, more and more SaaS companies do better and better in more and more interesting spaces. But they also just miss some of the very basics sometimes.
So let’s talk about lead allocation 101. Really, 100. 01. The very basics.
When you have 1 rep, it’s pretty easy to know where to send the leads. You either keep a few for yourself as CEO — or you send them all to her. But what do you do with reps 2-10?
A few very basic thoughts:
- First, start with round-robin. Like almost always. If your early sales folks are from bigger companies, they are likely used to territories. Territories certainly make sense with field reps who … go to visit customers in person. They also sort of make sense even with inside sales, and most bigger companies arrange teams in “patches”, even if those patches are often very far away from their geographical location. It makes life simpler, later, to do this. But don’t start here. Instead, until you at least have a team of reps, just route the leads automatically, in order. Start there. Don’t make it more complicated. Because more complicated makes it harder to measure. You need to learn what works. And you won’t learn unless all of the reps are basically running the same playbook, and using the same quality and types of leads.
- Segment your leads as soon as you are big enough to, at least into Small Medium + Large. This is often around reps 4-5. Start with round-robin, but as soon as your leads start to bunch into different sized companies — Small, Medium and Large — you want to begin the process of specializing. Some reps will be better with the bigger leads. They have longer sales cycles, more decision-makers, and more complexity in questions and decisions … but also a bigger check size. Get the folks good at high velocity doing the smaller deals, and the folks better at solution sales doing the bigger deals. But you can’t specialize here with 1 or 2 reps. Reps #4 and #5 are usually about as early as you can start to do this. Maybe rep #3. I’m surprised how many SaaS companies wait even until $20m ARR or beyond to do this.
- Segment your leads by industry when you are ready. This sometimes can be later, or sometimes earlier. But if, say, 50% of your leads are in insurance and 50% are in technology industries, it can make sense to specialize reps here fairly early. They then can get good at telling prospects what say, Aetna and Cigna did with your product. Or what Google and Facebook did. Don’t do this until you are ready. But even if all the use cases seem similar, there will be important nuances by vertical. So segmenting here when you are ready makes a lot of sense.
- Promote SDRs quickly. The best source of new account execs are the best SDRs you already have. If you see an SDR quickly being able to close the smallest deals herself, give her a shot. They are already half-trained, after all. One big advantage in the early days is SDRs have an easy and clear promotion path. Later, it will get more crowded.
- Most importantly — implement an SLA as soon as possible. And take away leads that aren’t followed up with promptly. This is the #1 thing you should do once you have even 3 reps. Once reps’ plates get full, they just don’t give enough attention to the B leads. But the B leads can be gold. You need to add an SLA. In that agreement, you take away any lead not followed up within say, 2 hours, and assign it to the newest rep. And you take any lead that hasn’t been touched in say, 2 weeks, and assign it to the newest rep. Assign the leads that haven’t been touched quickly enough, or recently enough, to the newest sales pro. They’ll be more hungry.
There’s a lot of complexity here, and it makes sense these days to add a full-time sales ops person as early as say, rep #10.
But if you aren’t taking these 5 steps to optimize how you manage leads, you should. They pretty much always work.
And now, a few more nuanced thoughts:
- Listen to their calls. Use Going or Chorus or whatever, but you have to listen to them. Listen to at least 5-10 calls a week. You’ll be shocked by what you hear. And you can jump in and help.
- Carefully monitor leads per rep. Some reps can handle more leads than others. Notwithstanding round robin, if you are “lead rich”, you may not want to split the volume of leads 50/50.
- Make sure meetings are being set up fast. Is the prospect process friction-free? It should be. No one should have to wait days for a demo or more than really a few minutes for an email back.
- Figure out who is good at what. And route their leads there. This alone can boost your revenue per lead 20%+. Concentrate certain types, sizes, industries, etc. of leads in the rep who is best at those ones.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)