B2B SaaS: Evolving from founder selling to a sales team

B2B SaaS: Evolving from founder selling to a sales team

For SaaS companies with a somewhat complicated sales model (i.e. sales process that involves a person talking to a prospect in order to close a deal), the sales process should evolve as the company grows. The best way to move through this evolution is to relieve the congestion that naturally occurs in the sales funnel as it builds (and not before that). In my experience, evolving from founder selling to building a sales team too quickly comes with a lot of risk that is easily avoided by making sure you are ready for each new phase in the evolution. Here’s the phases most B2B SaaS companies should pass through and the risks at each step. Phase 1 – Warm referral founder selling In this phase the founder is typically the person that does the “selling”. That’s a good thing because there is still a lot to learn from interacting with customers. Founders will learn works in their value proposition, what the typical objections are that might stall a deal and what really gets a prospect excited. This stage is where you are perfecting your sales pitch and your demo. Also, importantly, you are learning how your prospects like to buy – do they have to get approval from purchasing? What person in the company has authority to do a deal? Are there legal hoops you might have to jump through? How would you qualify a prospect as one that is likely to move forward or not? Leads at this phase are usually coming from working your network for warm referrals. A Phase 1 sales process typically looks like this: Phase 2 –...
6 Ways to Speed Up a B2B Sales Process

6 Ways to Speed Up a B2B Sales Process

I’ve spent my entire career working in or with startups that have sold to businesses. I love B2B. Businesses have burning problems and the money to solve them and I like revenue a lot. However, separating that money from those businesses is often difficult. The process a business goes through to make a decision about a $20K per year investment isn’t the same as the one you went through when you bought your last iPod. There are multiple people involved in making a decision, there are distinct stages in the buying process and hoops to jump through at every step. Closing a sale can take months and that can feel daunting for a startup that needs to drive some revenue fast. But just because the process is complex doesn’t mean there aren’t things you could do to speed things up. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in the past that have worked for me. Break bigger deals into chunks – The bigger the purchase the longer it will take for companies to evaluate and make a decision. Breaking a deal into phases (selling the base functionality first and then add-on’s later, rolling out a department and then the whole company, etc.) can help move deals along and get revenue flowing faster. Simplify your pricing and packages – I’ve seen deals go slow simply because customers couldn’t decide which options they needed to buy. Having fewer options on the price list or making it obvious which options a particular kind of customer needs can make making a decision much, much easier. Teach prospects how to evaluate solutions like yours – Businesses that...

Growth Hacking and B2B Startups

The first time I heard the term “Growth Hacker” I got a little excited. I have often said we need a new term for marketing – one that separates the good metrics-driven marketers from the bad “spray and pray” ones.  So suddenly there’s a new term that describes me perfectly: a person that has a technology background (me: Systems Design Engineer, check), a person that deeply believes in testing, iteration, and data as the basis for good marketing (see point about being an engineer, yup), and sees marketing as something that reaches from product to marketing to sales (you might call that product marketing and hey, that’s me too). For a while it looked like I could be a growth hacker. But then I kept reading and it became clear that growth hackers weren’t worrying about the same things I was worrying about. Discussion around the premise for first creating the term is what first started to make me question it. Growth hackers keep saying that they are differnt from “traditional marketers”, where “tradition” means – “measures nothing.” The TechCrunch series on growth hacking for example describes traditional marketers as being allergic to data and overly focused on PR/promotions without closing the loop back to growth. I’ve seen marketers like that for sure, but I wouldn’t say they were “traditional”, just lousy at their jobs. Certainly there’s no “tradition” of startup marketers that look like that – at least not at any of the startups I’ve been with. We tended to get rid of those folks pretty quickly. I could get into my opinions about how marketing operates at...
How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

I read a great post from Gopal Shenoy this week about how B2C product marketing is different from B2B. I’m a B2B marketer so that got me thinking about writing a post in the reverse. Here’s how I think B2B product marketing is different from B2C 1/ Channels are important (sometimes critical) – Most B2C companies sell direct. B2B is often through channels or a mix of channel and direct. The channels can be single or multi-tier and you will need to figure out how to price for these channels, enable and train them, incent them and ensure that there is as little channel conflict as possible. This is not easy. 2/ Long term customer relationships – Many B2C companies talk about “building customer relationships” like it’s a new thing and that’s because for many B2C companies it is (with the exception of SaaS-based B2C services where churn is a major metric). On the B2B side, there are fewer customers and often you will live or die by your long-term relationship with that customer. That means you will often have dedicated teams assigned to larger accounts. 3/ Tiered customer service – Because those long-term relationships are important, customer services becomes absolutely critical. Of course service is important on the B2C side as well, you don’t often see differences in the way you serve customers. On the B2B side there is quite often a massive difference in the way you service a very large account vs. a very small one. 4/ Purchasing teams – For larger-ticket items there will be a number of people and groups involved in a purchase...

Marketing Metrics 101 for B2B Startups

I think people are finally coming around to the idea that good marketing requires good measurement.  I’ve seen online B2C startups use Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates as a starting point for measuring what marketing is doing.  For those of us selling to businesses however, particularly where there is a sales team involved and a pipeline to track, the world is quite different and Dave’s metrics don’t cover everything you need to track. Here’s how I’d construct a basic set of marketing metrics for a B2B startup (and a single slide that I would use to present them): Think about the goals before you start The main goal of tracking marketing metrics is to get a measure of ROI or program effectiveness so you can make sure you are spending more and more on things that drive revenue and less and less on things that don’t. A good set of metrics will allow me to predict that if I spend $1 on a certain marketing tactic, I’m likely to get $X of revenue in Y days. A good set of metrics will also give you a feel for inside and outside sales effectiveness and overall sales pipeline velocity as well. Rocket watcher b2b marketing metrics View more presentations from April Dunford. 1. Pipeline Measurements # of Targets– sometimes referred to as “suspects” this is anyone in the universe who is on the receiving end of your marketing. Sometimes it is helpful to track the number of companies in your universe of targets in addition to the number of individuals, especially when you are targeting a niche and want...
Page 1 of 212