Sales strategy is a key driver of growth for sales teams in B2B organisations, this is typically defined as sales enablement. What gets me about this is that some sales leaders seem to treat this as a maturity of the sales org and not the bedrock. Even more frustrating for me is that it’s the perfect way to align marketing and sales and is often overlooked in that aspect too, and it’s especially important for an account-based strategy.
To build a strong sales strategy you need two things; one is to know a whole lot about your customers and prospects and if not, be working around an ICP with a very tight hypothesis, especially in SaaS. This will enable your product marketing team to build a playbook for you that you take to market as part of your overall go-to-market strategy. Two, you need a standardised sales process so that your sales team are all selling, conveying value, and approaching prospects in the same way.
By defining an upfront strategy, you give your team the best chance of success in a number of ways:
- You standardise your sales process meaning all reps work the same way. This enables your sales leader to focus on measuring, coaching and optimising the process/team further.
- You bring in adequate tech and do not rely on Excel. With remote working and sales teams of varying sizes, a CRM is a bare minimum and with HubSpot CRM starting free, there’s absolutely no reason for a no-tech situation. With a CRM your sales reps and leaders get better insight into what’s really going on in your deals and sales funnel. With a standardised sales process, those leaders can focus on loosening bottlenecks and optimising your sales enablement playbook.
- You reduce churn and increase staff retention. When you think about the cost of replacing a rep; some $97,690 according to a report by DuPaul University when you add up recruiting costs, training costs, and lost sales. Additionally, when you reduce churn, you improve team morale and encourage more collaboration amongst your staff. This is important given the high turnover of staff in sales and for SaaS companies, given that it takes an average of 11 months to break even on a sales hire.
How do I draw my conclusions?
I’ve worked and consulted in SaaS for years, working with hundreds of SaaS and software companies and in the very early stage you always seem to find a similar thread; sell hard, market later and figure it out. Honestly, that is bullshit advice. Or at least the typical application of that is. And with the end of never-ending VC funding upon us, being tactically and fiscally responsible is upon the shoulders of all founders and scaling SaaS companies.
So how do I believe you should go around sales enablement?
Firstly, in SaaS, you speak to your product marketing team, and if you are really early stage and you don’t have this function, find yourself a fractional CMO with a product marketing background. Alternatively, you could find a product marketing agency, it literally could save you and earn you thousands of dollars at the same time.
A product marketer, unlike a content marketer (which is often the most chosen hire for early-stage SaaS), is highly recommended. And junior content marketing hires are even more problematic so beware your expected outcomes the more junior the hire. However, I do understand, on one hand, you are trying to balance your budget and on the other get results quickly.
Because of this, more often what happens is results drag or don’t materialise, sales lose faith in the marketing team, and the leadership team settle for MQLs from the marketing team as a KPI that benefits nobody. Eventually, your SaaS gradually starts to scale, departments silo and the gap widens, sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sales strategy starts with product marketing
A product marketer's role is to keep your SaaS revenue teams knitted tightly together. They align the goals of your product with your prospects and help your marketing team communicate that value. They also work with your sales team to build a sales enablement program that helps them communicate that value and trains the team to deliver a buying experience in a consistent manner.
Let’s highlight what product marketing can deliver. They:
- Help communicate your products value correctly to the marketing team so they can best help drive qualified traffic to the website and improve SQLs in your CRM, better supporting your sales team
- Work with your sales team to devise the sales enablement materials they need which include;
- Sales confidence surveys
- Customer case study questions
- Buyer funnel stages and tactics
- Sales one-pagers
- Sales email templates
- Sales scripts
- Cross-Sell/Upsell Templates
- Objection handling scripts
- Product demo checklists
- Product demo training
- Work with the senior leadership team to drive alignment across marketing, sales and customer success in tandem with the product team
- Continue to help the sales team improve the sales enablement process, enhancing the overall sales strategy.
- Continue to provide insights and training on how to communicate product updates and releases for both marketing, sales and customer success
For me, it’s time for sales teams to stop operating like they are the single revenue team and start seeing that multiple departments make up the revenue team hence the name RevOps and drive growth collaboratively. At least a savvy sales rep would do so.
Allowing a team member to help you improve your chances of closing deals, reducing sales cycles and being the voice of the customer it’s a win-win situation for you and can only help you get closer to hitting your quota.
Choose your sales enablement tools and software
Right, let's get transparent on what tools are suitable for which size company. Starting with the CRM. Many consider the main choices to be Salesforce, HubSpot and Pipedrive, although Freshworks are posting some pretty good numbers of late.
How to choose your CRM
How I see it is smaller companies will start with Pipedrive or Freshworks although whilst I have nothing against either the future is an integrated technology and seamless tech stacks. As startups can get HubSpot for up to a 90% discount, longer term it makes more sense to go that route than start somewhere else and migrate later on.
HubSpot CRM and its integrated tools; marketing hub, sales hub, service hub and operations hub start with early-stage startups and max out at around 2000 employee headcount. That means they focus on the small to mid-market.
Salesforce has grown by acquisition, so whilst it has a range of tools, they are not native integrations and require a hefty setup but scale up from 1000 headcount, focused on the enterprise. Sure it can work for smaller businesses but many feel that buying Salesforce as a smaller company is like using a sledgehammer to hammer a nail. It’ll do the job but it's a massively over-selected tool for the job.
Whilst I haven’t had much experience with Pipedrive, we have migrated companies off of it a few times so that’s companies voting with their feet. In this case, I can’t get too much into the weeds of the pros and cons as I have no experience of working with it, whereas I do with the other two.
How to choose your sales tool
When it comes to sales tools, whilst I operate a HubSpot partner agency, I feel that the sales hub competes with two particular platforms, although both of those can leverage the HubSpot CRM too.
HubSpot Sales Hub is a great tool. It’s got a seamless integration with the CRM and when connected with the other hubs, it ramps up power and data for the users. When you run an outbound or account-based strategy data is key and using a combination of lead scoring and first-party data sources is easy when your toolkit is integrated.
First-party intent data is every data point you collect about your own users. This includes data collected on Google Analytics, your CRM or any other marketing tools you use to collect user data. You use this data to inform your sales strategy; who to target first, and which companies are most active in your channels. All of this helps you personalise your outreach and improve your opening and engagement rates.
Salesloft of which we are also a partner agency to be open sells itself as a complete sales engagement tool. With a focus on real-time insights into your customer and prospects' behaviour in your channels, sales enablement and predictive analytics, sales automation using AI, CRM integrations and sales cycle optimisation.
Packs a pretty decent punch and can work well as a standalone sales tool.
Outreach is another sales engagement tool competing directly against Salesloft. They pitch themselves as the tool to generate more pipelines and win more deals with less effort.
Their value prop seems to talk to help solve insufficient prospecting by your BDRs, inconsistent deal management across teams and inaccurate forecasting. They do this with automated sales workflows, providing actionable intelligence across the sales cycle and deal intelligence signals to help them proactively defuse deal risks and improve forecast accuracy.
Salesloft tends to slightly outscore Outreach on G2 and you can dive into the differences there easily enough.
Map your sales process
Now that you’ve seen the options on CRM and sales tools, you can make a smart decision around the tech that will enable your sales team to ramp up to productivity.
Your next step is to build out a standardised sales process and we have covered this in another article How to build a standardised sales process which we recommend you also read as well as How to sell high-value B2B with ten usable frameworks. Sorry to keep that short but no need to rehash topics covered previously in this article.
If you find that you are now quietly confident by reading the suggested materials, you should by now have
- A choice of CRM
- A choice of sales tool
- A standardised sales process
- A selling style for your sales team to adopt
With this in mind, I feel confident that you and your sales team are ready to take the next step which is to simply get going. However, to round this off in a comprehensive manner, check out one last article, 12 quickfire KPIs for sales to get your reporting started.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, I hope it provided you with a basis upon which you can now build out your sales team and playbook and as always if we can be of any extra assistance, feel free to reach out and let us know.