what works at the bottom may not work as you tilt upmarket

A lot of people have a desire to avoid hiring salespeople. For some, it’s a question of:

Do I even need salespeople at all? Slack and Atlassian don’t have any (yet). Can’t I just do a Basecamp model? Can’t I just have Customer Happiness Officers who make customers so happy that they keep referring new customers? And people just buy my stuff without me doing anything or having to sell it?”

Well maybe you can. And more power to you if you’re one of them. As long as there’s enough momentum in your business to keep hitting your revenue goals without a true sales team, then by definition you don’t need one… but you will probably want one.

Maybe your goals are too low. A lot of founders who haven’t managed the revenue side of a business before are sort of anti-Sales. They see Sales as a bit slimy if they’ve never done it themselves or worked with a great sales team and often have the point of view,

Isn’t Sales just a bunch of guys in a virtual boiler room trying to get people to buy stuff they don’t really need? If my product is so great, shouldn’t it sell itself, so long as I have Happiness Officers answering questions and moving things along?” Again, it’s been done. But is it smart for you? The “problem” with just going with Happiness Officers is three-fold:

3 Reasons You Need Salespeople to Scale

1.) What works at the bottom of the market may not work as you tilt upmarket.

Self-service (and almost-self-service) models can work well with Happiness Officers whose goal in part is to be Customer Support on steroids, i.e., not just to be reactive but also proactive. Not just to respond to tickets but also to make sure customers are happy with the product and loyal to it.

It’s a great strategy for the bottom of the market. While that will still work at slightly higher price points, say $99 or $299/month or even a $5K ACV or so, in many categories above that your prospects will expect to talk to a true salesperson. At least some of them will. A Happiness Officer can probably do a decent job here, but ultimately a salesperson is the best fit for someone that wants to talk to sales, especially if they are looking for your help in selling your stuff to their executives!

2.) Happiness Officers are great “Middlers”, but not Openers or Closers.

Middlers are smart, engaging people who love a product but have no experience in real sales. They don’t know how to pick up a phone or send an email and prospect or find a possible sale. They default to, “If I talk to someone, then I’ll mention something they could buy, and if my customer needs or wants it then they’ll just buy it.”

They are ill-equipped, uncomfortable and unpracticed asking for the close. It’s not easy to ask for money if you’re not used to doing it. Professionals are much better at it than amateurs. “Amateurs” (those not classically trained in sales) don’t know how to close. They wait and hope for the close to happen magically on its own. Sometimes it does. But you’ll see that once you have someone managing a prospect that knows how to close a lot more deals… and close more quickly.

3.) You’ll make a lot more money with a true sales team.

It’s just basic math. More deals open and close when you have trained sales professionals working with your prospects or current customers. Just as importantly, sales professionals know how to

  • maximize the revenue per opportunity.
  • figure out the maximum number of seats that can be closed now and later.
  • persuade a customer to buy a more comprehensive edition or set of services than they might buy without guidance.
  • how selling a bigger deal upfront and charging more can increase the chances of Customer Success later because the customer is All In from Day One. Cuz sometimes charging customers less means they are less invested and makes it easier for them to quit halfway to the goal. You may not care so much in the early days. But you’ll quickly care once you have even $1M or$2M in ARR under your belt. Because leads are precious.

If a great sales rep can turn a lead into $40 on average, but a Happiness Officer only turns it into $20 on average, and a sales rep can close 50% more often than a Happiness Officer… then, seriously, go Pro.

Putting true sales professionals on those leads is going to increase your revenue per lead by 300% – at least in the segment of your customer base where it makes sense to have sales professionals (e.g., $99-$299 MRR and higher).

Now, if you’re still on the fence, because you’re very “customer-focused” and believe customers are smart enough to figure it all out on their own…I get it. Trust me, you don’t want a used car-type sales rep leading the charge here. But a great SaaS rep doesn’t sell used cars. She sells a beautiful, gleaming Tesla Model S. Or at least a shiny new Audi A4; metaphorically speaking.

What I mean is, the customers already love your product. The sales rep’s job isn’t  to lie, cheat, steal, or convince you that’s just “surface rust” on the ’05 Impala. Rather, it’s to be a trusted guide, a consultant, helping them through a complex evaluation and purchasing process to buy a product that generates a big impact for them.

It’s about learning, bonding, adding true, real value –and believing it, delivering it. Plus…having the confidence to ask for the largest possible check. 🙂

hope you enjoyed this “From Impossible to Inevitable” excerpt!

LASTLY….what’s NEW for our outsourcing & ‘nail a niche’ customers

we have some exciting updates to our outbound outsourcing & ‘nail a niche’ market discovery program customers… in addition to new “Deep Dive” techniques we’ll be using, you also get $10k in powerful workshops included free:  our a) “Nailing Your Niche Workshop” and our b) “Messaging Workshop”  –  check out our page here for how to talk to us and find out more.

thanks,
– air

ps: check out scenes from this year’s fathers day olympics; hunger games style!13466431_10153599790979147_1407392470307817336_n

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