How to build a finely tuned SaaS sales machine
For you new or aspiring SaaS entrepreneurs out there, creating your amazing new SaaS is one thing, but figuring out how to sell it consistently is another.
Software is amazing. Once it’s built, it doesn’t take much to maintain and the profit margins grow. Plus we have the benefit of residual income and long LTVs (life time value) of a customer. This all equals forecastable revenue and safety for your company while having the ability to grow and scale by turning a few dials and pulling a few levers. Sounds simple? IT’S NOT, but it’s doable.
Let me first talk about my brother here for a second and what I learned from him. He co-founded two SaaS companies back to back and brought them both from $0-$5MM. He was the mastermind behind building the sales system which turned into a sales machine. He was so good at building these systems, he inevitably strategized his way out of a job. Don’t worry, he has all his stock fully vested and still is on the board of both companies but his speciality is that $0-$5MM stage. To him, the $0-$5MM stage is the most fun and also the most critical.
The big take aways from what I learned from my brother was that you must obsess over your system until you find the one that works. There are not many people out there that actually digs as deep as my brother to find out what works. So obviously grit and determination are keys to the puzzle but there is also some standards that he used that can apply to any SaaS company.
In addition to learning from my brother, I have helped over a dozen software companies, many startups, build their sales machine for new SaaS products. Some succeeded and some failed, but for the ones that succeeded I found a commonality that rang true. These commonalities started to become obvious and even my brother started to realize that he had built a replicable system but hadn’t known it.
So what are all these commonalities? What is the replicable system and why hasn’t there been a book or a course built for this?
To answer the second question first, entrepreneurs have this tendency to want to “create” even though they don’t have the experience to create a sales machine. They feel like it’s unoriginal to follow a system and that they can figure it out themselves because they figured out how to build a SaaS product themselves. There are also lots of opinions out there from so called “experts” that either got lucky or have outdated information.
David Ogilvy, one of the most famous and sought after advertisers in the world put it simply. “Until you’ve got a better answer, you copy!” What he is saying here is that even though he was a genius marketer it was stupid for him to come up with his own system (ad) when certain kinds of advertising already worked that he could use. The same is true with building a system for your SaaS. The system exists, you just have to decide whether you want to be original and spin your tires of be unoriginal and make money. It’s up to you.
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As for the commonalities of all the successful SaaS companies I spoke of including my brothers:
- The founders were not salesman or marketers BUT they understood the importance and the emphasis they needed to put on them.
- The companies had a very clearly defined challenge that they solved and knew how to communicate that to their target customers.
- The companies all had an outbound sales approach which drastically lowered the cost per acquisition and allowed them to scale faster.
- There was always a “systems” mastermind that was part of the team that was literally obsessed with creating automation in the sales system and always continue to improve.
- Lastly, these companies were not as concerned with the functionality of their software as much as they were concerned with getting it out there and getting customers using it.
So how do you build that finely tuned sales machine?
[+] First you better damn well learn to have a sales and marketing mentality above all. You’re not longer a creator, you are now a business owner and your responsibility is to keep your business alive. If you cannot do this find someone else who can immediately.
[+] Second, you must have a clearly defined challenge that your software solves. You must know it in and out and your must lead with that result. You also must deliver OUTSTANDING results that make your customers super happy and make their lives better. That’s how you acquire customer and keep them paying you.
[+] Third, in most scenarios you must start with an outbound sales approach. You know who your target customer is and the easiest way to get in front of them is not advertising or blog posts, it’s direct contact. By enforcing and outbound sales approach you are going to learn a ton and you are going to be able to create a system to bring in more sales people and scale.
[+] Forth, find someone that can build a system like now!!! This doesn’t have to be a sales person but it often is. The sales person can also work along with a data analytics experts to create this system. Your goal is to find the best way to get your customers attention, the best way to present to them, the best things to say to them, the best way to close them, and the best way to train new sales people to do the same. When you get this one morning you will wake up and the little snowball that you started rolling down the hill becomes a monster that generates consistent forecastable revenue. Residual BABY!
[+] Five, drop the “tinkering” mentality and stop worrying about how good the current state of your SaaS is. If you can sell a mediocre product imagine what you can do with a great product. You don’t have time to keep adding features and keep coming out with new versions. Sell it AS IS with your system and as the product improves over time, it will get easier to sell.
Man! My hands are tired. I hope you enjoyed my little rant above. If you are looking for more education on building a sales machine for your SaaS company my brother and I put together a cool little training. Feel free to check it out https://goo.gl/jZJAHF