SaaS inside sales involves closing a sale without leaving the office. A sales executive or sales representative just makes a call from the office. Sales execs set goals that are both scalable and predictable. This is achieved through hiring the same type of successful salespeople, training each one of them in the same way, providing each with the same number of quality leads, and ensuring they work the leads by applying the same process.
Years ago, very few people had heard of inbound marketing, which has grown and market knowledge of Inbound marketing today has dramatically increased. Regardless, even those who have heard of inbound marketing still have very little knowledge on how to develop such a channel. The sales team educates people over the phone and convinces them to reconsider their sales and marketing process.
To do this, the sales team must earn the trust of the prospect, gain an in-depth understanding of the business goals of the prospect, understand their sophistication with sales & marketing, as well as articulate an inbound marketing adoption plan that is in line with the prospect’s context. A product that is broad in its capacity, and can service various prospects with various business goals, adds complexity to the sale. This means that a full demo would take hours and overwhelm the prospect. So, the sales team has to be sophisticated enough to customize or tailor the demo to suit the prospect’s context.
Extensive Saas Inside Sales Model Overview
Hiring the Right Sales People
Start off by writing down attributes that would be useful and use them during interviews to select and evaluate candidates. You can collect more data over time, then go back and measure the specific attributes that best correlated with success. These metrics include the average quota attainment (%), productivity per rep (PPR) and Lifetime Value (LTV) of customers signed up. LTV highlights an interesting aspect of SaaS sales. If a sales rep closes a deal by selling to the wrong customer, then that deal will churn faster. So, this metric is important in measuring success.
A SaaS inside sales model has a well-defined process involved in the onboarding of a new sales rep. What most companies do is take a new sales rep and pair them up with another senior sales rep to shadow for a month. While this tactic may work for some sales reps, it doesn’t work for others.
This is because sales reps are different and succeed in different ways. Moreover, a rep that is strong technically might succeed by using that ability to help the customer. On the other hand, another might be charming and charismatic and use that to his advantage to win customers over. As you may have already noticed, having one rep follow another one that uses a completely different style from what he knows, or far from his strengths, can be a bit challenging. This may not lead to a successful learning experience.
A great approach would be to:
- Define the sales playbook i.e. unique value proposition, product information, target customer, common objections, competition, etc.
- Provide sales people with hands-on experience with a target persona’s job, including all the pain that accompany it
- Utilize exams and certification programs to make sure you have a consistent product generated from training
The importance of hands-on training is that it trains the sales team to become consultants and experts that clearly understand the customer’s business and in turn use that knowledge or understanding to be a trusted advisor to that particular customer. It is important to do extensive research to understand the customer’s needs before placing the first call.
This stage has been made more important due to the rise of social media. You can check the prospect’s professional background and decision making ability, the person he reports to, what the prospects knows that you may also know, the activities the prospect has been into and the prospect’s professional interests. All the answers to these questions can be found before making the decision to call.
Ensuring sales people work the leads through the same process
1. Ongoing Coaching and Remedial training. The data collected on a sales rep can be used to target a particular skill set that if improved will likely make a significant difference in the rep’s success. However, work on a single skill set at a time. A great sales manager is able to determine which skill will have the most impact.
2. Use science and not just your gut to determine optimal attempts per lead. In sales, both science and art are necessary for success. However, science should not be under-utilized, as it has successfully answered a number of questions: how often a lead should be called, when to give up, what to say on the first and subsequent attempts, etc.
3. Hold sales reps accountable to a desirable behavior. After answering the above questions, build them into a process. Constantly remind reps that following certain actions is statistically proven to produce the best results. Then automate ways to hold them accountable to such behaviors. This can be achieved through daily dashboards (graphs) that illustrate where the team is against the best practice behaviors, and email the charts daily to the team. In addition, managers should be taught how to interpret these charts and hold sales reps accountable to the behaviors needed.
Working with marketing to ensure consistent, high quality leads
This area is often problematic when it comes to SaaS inside sales. Seamless communication between sales and marketing is required to ensure things run smoothly. An effective “contract” between sales and marketing should define the following:
For marketing: (a) the qualities a lead should have before handing over to sales, and (b) the number of qualified leads needed each month
For Sales: (a) the duration the sales team is allowed before contacting a lead, and (b) the number of attempts allowed on a lead.
The alignment between sales and marketing is to ensure that marketing focuses on the best performing leads in the funnel. With predictable and scalable goals, sales managers can ensure that they hire the same type of successful sales people, train them in the same way, provide them with the same number of quality leads and ensure they work those leads by applying the same process. This will ensure successful SaaS inside sales, with sales reps closing sales without necessarily having to leave the office.