The Modern Sales Org
Long gone are the days when Account Executives (AEs) were expected to cold call, give demos, and answer RFPs. Today, those tasks are delegated to experts that specialize in each of those functions. BDRs own prospecting, using the latest technology and data sources to discover buyers in purchasing cycles. Solution consultants are the product experts that give the demos, design the solution, and answer technical questions. The deal desk negotiates the discounted pricing, contract terms, and service level agreements.
The AE takes a more strategic role in the specialized sales organization. S/he acts as the quarterback of the deal cycle with a primary responsibility to differentiate the solution and win the business.
Leads programs for the learning, development, and performance of the sales organization. The goal is to maximize the productivity of the team with a focus on rapidly on-boarding new hires and achieving balanced performance amongst tenured reps. Examples of sales enablement programs include:
- On-Boarding and Training – Designing the curriculum for new hire boot camps as well as on-going learning programs. Regular training helps reps to further develop selling skills and product knowledge.
- Sales Kickoff and Club – Planning the content, structure, and goals of the annual sales conference. Creating the agenda, selecting the speakers, and reviewing content to provide feedback to speakers
- Selling Methodology – Training sales reps on the best way to manage a deal cycle, leveraging best practices from published strategies such as the Challenger Sale, MEDDIC, and Sandler.
- Sales Tools and Collateral – Arm sales with the FAQs, one-page PDFs, and detailed documentation needed to respond to buyer questions to overcome objections and advance to the next phase of the purchasing journey.
The engine room of the sales organization that keeps the team running smoothly. Technology is a key focus. The ops team arms sales with the right apps to optimize productivity throughout the deal cycle. Ops also defines processes to ensure consistent and balanced productivity across the organization. Specific responsibilities include:
- Tech Stack – Managing the Sales Force Automation (within CRM) platform as well as apps for Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ), AI-powered guided selling, and predictive forecasting.
- Quotas and Compensation – Assigning quotas to teams and reps based upon bookings targets. Defining variable compensation programs including accelerators, spiffs, and qualification criteria for annual club trips.
- Forecasting – Actively monitoring the sales pipeline to project forecasted bookings for the current and next quarter. Identifying top areas of risk in the plan based upon buyer behaviors and sales sentiment.
- Analytics and Reporting – Tracking metrics such as pipeline coverage ratio, win rate, and quota attainment. Reporting summaries to sales management, the executive team, and board of directors.
One of the best ways to build collaboration between sales and marketing is to establish a formal SLA between the two organizations. The SLA can cover a wide range of business processes and reporting metrics, but the most important aspect will be establishing quantifiable goals for lead generation. In some cases, the SLA might define the total number of leads to be sourced by marketing. In other cases, the SLA might outline a target dollar value of pipeline to be maintained.
BDRs and Prospecting
The cornerstone of the outbound motion, Business Development Reps (BDRs) reach out to prospects with the goal of identifying buyers that are in the market for a solution. Once contact is made, the BDR will typically perform light qualification of the buyer and then attempt to book a discovery call with an account executive.
- Targeting– Firmographics and technographics are used to pinpoint which accounts best match the ideal customer profile. Triggers and intent data are monitored to find the best time to engage.
- Cold Calling – Executing a sequence of phone calls to decision makers aiming for a live conversation. BDRs also leave voicemails and branded caller ID profiles in hopes of getting noticed.
- Email Prospecting – Sending a carefully choreographed cadence of email messages. The contents might include a provocative question, a special promotion, or sharing helpful content.
- Social Selling – Reaching out to buyers on LinkedIn with connection requests and InMail messages. BDRs also use profile views or comments on posts with the hopes of getting noticed.
Supplementing the direct sales organizations with channel partnerships is a popular go-to-market strategy used by many SaaS providers to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC), accelerate growth, and increase market share. Channel teams focus on acquiring new partnerships with systems integrators, management consulting, BPO firms, and other SaaS/cloud providers. The partnerships take many different forms including:
- Affiliate programs – The partner identifies qualified leads and refers them. The incentive for referrals could be a monetary payout such as a revenue share or the rights to provide services after the close.
- Embedded offerings – Enabling a community of developers with open APIs that makes it easy for them to embed technology within their offerings rather than rebuilding the functionality in-house.
- Reseller relationships – The SaaS product is added to the reseller’s price list, contracted on their paper, and sold by their sales team. The product may be rebranded under the reseller’s name.
- Teaming arrangements – Partners join forces to sell a combined solution to the prospect. Each party negotiates pricing and contract terms separately, but work together on the implementation and on-going support.
SaaS Sales and BDRs
Specialization makes sense for a number of reasons. It’s impossible to find a rep with the diverse range of skills needed to excel at lead generation, product demonstrations, proposal responses, contract negotiation, and deal management. Even if you could find reps that can do all of these functions, it’s not cost-effective to have them performing some of the more time-consuming tasks.