Dear SaaStr: For someone just starting out in SaaS sales (entry-level Salesforce in November), what are your tips to accelerate growth/ability in early stages?

A few thoughts to excel as someone new to SaaS sales:

  • Really learn the product cold. As fundamentally as you can.  This really, really works.  Even if you aren’t really that good at the rest of sales.  Every prospect and customer is owed a true solution sale approach. Sales is there to close a deal, yes, but that should just be 10% of it — 90% of the “work” should be to solve your prospects’ and customers’ problems. You can only solve a customer’s problems if you know the product you are selling cold. Train yourself on it 10x more than whatever training your company provides. Live it, breathe it. Own it. So many reps don’t do this. They can only answer the basic 5–6 questions about the product. Own the top 100 customers, the top 50 workflows, the top 200 corner cases, the top 100 objections. And you will become a sales magician.
  • Treat each prospect as a VIP. No matter how big or small. There is only so much time in the week, but if you treat a $1k deal with the same respect as a $50k deal … magic just happens. Small businesses care just as much about their businesses as big ones. Probably much more. Their livelihoods are on the line.  And you’ll pull ahead of folks that treat smaller deals as a waste of their time.
  • Help your prospects. In the end, to close deals at the end of the month/quarter, you are going to often have to ask for a favor from a customer-to-be. You can only ask for a favor if you’ve given back 10x in value. So do whatever you can to help your top prospects and opportunities.  Help them with their free trial.  Do they extra demo to another stakeholder.  Make sure a key integration is actually working.   If you help them so much, then they’ll probably do you a favor back. And just sign the deal at quarter’s end.  Even if they don’t really need to.
  • Learn to ask who the other decision-makers and stakeholders are. Assume you have to do 2x–3x more demos than you’d planned, to really sell 2x–3x more folks than you are currently talking to. Unless the company is < 10 people, there are always other stakeholders in any material decision. Always ask whoever else in the company could benefit from learning more about the app. And go solve their problems, too.
  • Prospects don’t waste your time. You waste their time. Paste this somewhere in 80-point font.  If you think a prospect is “wasting your time” (I hate it when I hear this), you are doing it wrong.  No one wakes up each morning wanting to talk to an SDR and an AE.  They only ask to speak to sales when they have a business problem to solve.  You are wasting their time if you don’t help them solve it.  Not vice-versa.
  • Pick a better mentor and boss over a better logo. Work for the best manager you can. Even if it’s not as hot of a company. That’s how you learn. And also — how you can accelerate your career.
  • Work harder than the next “guy”. In SaaS sales, you can be a bit .. lazy. Wait for the highest-scored MQL to come to you. Lean on others to build that collateral. Not call back that lead that was interested … but maybe it isn’t a big enough opportunity. Sales reps that are mid-pack sometimes don’t really hustle at companies with strong brands. It’s easy to beat them. Just work harder, smarter, and with a customer-centric heart.

And a few insights on what it’s really like to be early in sales here:

One Tough (But Rewarding) Job: Being the First Sales Rep at a SaaS Startup

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)

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