2024 — the year we’re now fully in the New Age of Efficiency. Sales folks have to truly bring in 4x-5x what they take home, marketers are on budgets that seem too tight, and customer success has been transformed into agents of upsell.
A few ideas on how to help the sales team make this your best year so far:
- Hire dedicated sales / revenue ops. Many of you will have little to no dedicated help in sales operations, even up to $10m ARR or beyond. Who’s making sure the reps have the right collateral? Getting routing the right leads? Are being trained properly? Are being paid properly? If that’s you, or your VP of Sales, or even your VP of Marketing … it can sort of work for a while. But the thing is, that’s a bad use of time. Hire a director+ of sales ops to take the administrative side of sales off the plate of folks that should opening and closing. Get them more leverage to do what they do best.
- Invest (more) in training and onboarding. While we’ve gotten better since we all went distributed, sales teams often still do some of the worst onboarding of almost any function. They throw new reps in the mix, give them a ramp-up period, but training usually is weak. Do the opposite. Invest heavily in training your reps. Build a “bible” and update it quarterly. Make it at least an 8-part course. If you force yourself to build an 8-step new rep training course, that alone will likely be 8x better than what you do today. Start off with a buddy system, if you can make that work. Listen to tons of Gong or Chrous or Salesloft calls of your new reps (whatever tool you use).
- Specialize. If you haven’t done this yet, specialize more next year. This will take some of the pressure off the sales team. Hire more folks to acquire, manage and qualify leads for your reps. Let your closers be closers.
- Have sane quotas. Make sure the majority of your reps can hit quota. If they can’t, even today, something’s wrong. No one can succeed when they know they are set up for failure.
- Invest in optimizing lead routing, scoring and management. Sales ops can sometimes do this for you, but make sure each rep gets the type of leads, and the number of leads, most optimized for them. Some reps can handle more leads than others. Some follow up more quickly. Some are better at SMBs, vs. mid-market. Optimize this. You’ll get a 20% lift just doing this.
- Cut anyone that isn’t cutting it. Hopefully, this isn’t a lot of folks. Firing tons of sales reps each year only works in the movies. But don’t waste leads. You have to put your precious leads in the hands of reps that can actually close them. Don’t carry perennial poor performers. Instead, just give those leads to better performers. Watch magic happen. As more of those leads close.
- Get out on more prospect and customer Zooms as CEO. And meet as many as you can in person. Do at least 6-10 customer Zooms a week. Support the team with your gravitas as CEO. This increases the odds a deal closes, and decreases the odds a customer churns. More here.
- Upgrade alignment between Customer Success, Account Management, and Sales. In SaaS, the date the contract is Adobe Signed isn’t the end of the sales process — it’s basically the start. You have to resell and re-earn the customer every month after that. And net negative churn is the secret to truly scaling. So figure out how to get CS and Sales working more closely. Bring CS into deals earlier. Overlap goals and quotas. Optimize incentive structures for upgrades. Figure out 2 or 3 ways to level up how CS and Sales work together on the 5+ year customer journey.
- Start segmenting sales. Do you have a dedicated team for enterprise and a dedicated team for SMBs? Are you specialized on key vericals? Do you have someone in biz dev managing each key platform partner? It may be time.
- Do more customer marketing. We’ve talked about this before on SaaStr. Almost no one does enough marketing to their existing customer base. Way too much goes to new prospects. But you have to help sales with the upgrades and additional seats, as well. Done right, customer marketing can help the sales team just as much as demand generation, especially in environments with 120%+ NRR, where so many new bookings come from expansion. More on that here.
- Celebrate the wins more. I you don’t, it’s time. Sales is hard. It’s 10 Nos for every Yes — if you are lucky. You are graded every month. Everyone knows how you are doing. It’s not easy to always be under scrutiny. So especially in sales — you have to celebrate the wins.
And a few related thoughts:
- If you sell enterprise, moving to a Jan 31 fiscal year can help a little bit. Yes, your salesteam will bring in amazing deals on Dec 31. But it does take a little stress off the holidays to move to a Jan 31 fiscal year. Salesforce did this year, and most folks that sell to the enterprise do the same. It’s not magic. But it lets the team relax a tiny bit more over the holidays. That alone probably makes it worth it.
- Plan your first customer conference, if you haven’t done one yet. It’s fine to start small. This always helps. It helps to bring prospects and customers together. It helps with upsells and account growth. It helps with NPS. It’s one simple thing you can do to help the sales team. More on that here.
- Ask yourself if you really have a VP of Demand Gen — or not. If your head of marketing isn’t really a demand gen guru, go find one. Not as a manager or director. But as a leader. To help sales. If your VP of “Marketing” isn’t really generating leads, opportunities, MQLs, SQLs, whatever for the sales team … and many don’t … find one that does. The sales team deserves it.
- Start doing a weekly webinar every week. This always helps the sales team. How? Their prospects can drive others in the org to the webinar. Not every prospect, and not every stakeholder at every company, wants a 1-on-1 demo or discussion. Some want something in the middle — where they can sit back and watch when they want, and ask questions when they want, and not feel too much 1-on-1 pressure. We call this a webinar 😉 . So do one now. But to really help the sales team, it has to be every week. So they can tell all their prospects, e.g., “We also have a weekly webinar every Wednesday at 10am you can bring folks to.” If it’s not every week, it’s not a “product” the sales team can rely on in this fashion. More here.
It’s time to start putting the pieces into place for even stronger growth in 2022. To upgrade the pieces, processes, and team to get you there.
(note: an updated version of a SaaStr Classic post)