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What Is SaaS Sales? Everything You Need to Know in 2022

Sass, it's not a quality you want your reps to have.

But a well-rounded knowledge bank all about winning in SaaS sales? Now that's something every company selling software should embrace!

And that's precisely what we're going to cover in this guide, along with:

  • What SaaS stands for and how to sell it
  • Tips on building your dream SaaS sales team 
  • The best strategies for selling SaaS 
  • What SaaS sales metrics are essential to track for guaranteed revenue generation

So, if you're keen to get started closing more and more SaaS deals, start scrolling 👇 or use the menu to jump to the section that interests you the most:

What is SaaS?Software selling basics | Getting started selling SaaS | Creating a SaaS sales strategy (+ free guide) | How to structure a software sales team | Tracking metrics | SaaS Tech

What is SaaS?

SaaS sales is the process of selling web-based software that customers access through an online portal. SaaS stands for Software as a Service and is used by businesses to solve their pain points or problems. 

SaaS software is managed by a customer success team and supported by the provider's product engineers. There is usually a subscription-based pricing model, so the sales team's focus is on upselling and retaining existing clients while bringing new ones on board.

How is SaaS different from other types of sales? 

Selling Software as a Service is complex as you're not simply delivering a product as soon as you make a sale. Instead, the software needs to be supported and engineered, meaning that SaaS sales teams must build lasting customer relationships to ensure future sales. 

What's more, the SaaS sales cycle will take much longer because the cost of lead generation software can be quite high, and more players need to sign off on the final decision. 

To sell SaaS, you'll need to hire both Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and Business Development Managers (BDMs). SDRs focus on outbound sales and qualifying leads, while BDMs focus on conducting product demos and closing deals.

They will need to communicate the benefits and features of the solution to buyers. Thus reps will need to be incredibly knowledgeable of how the software works to demonstrate and troubleshoot the product during demos. 

A SaaS sales team has one main objective: to move sales qualified leads through the pipeline and generate new revenue for the company.

SaaS selling basics 

There's a common theme among all B2B companies that create software that sells - a well thought out sales process. 

The SaaS sales process should be based on marketing data collected from your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The more you know about your total addressable market, the better you can sell software to them. 

Here's a rundown on how to sell SaaS:

The SaaS sales process

The B2B SaaS sales process refers to the stages a company goes through to close a deal with a potential customer. 

There are 5 steps in the SaaS sales process:

  1. Lead generation -  lead generation helps generate interest in your B2B SaaS product.
  2. Outbound prospecting - you can reach out to prospects via direct dials, email or social media.
  3. Sales qualification - the process of evaluating if the prospect fits your company's ICP. 
  4. Sales demos - conducting a live sales demo for the prospect so they can evaluate if your SaaS software is the right fit for their company.
  5. Closing - negotiating terms with the prospect and making a sale.

To do this you’ll be looking at the utilising the 3 main SaaS sales activities: 

  1. Cold calling - where salespeople contact targeted leads via the phone, qualify them and arrange a meeting.
  2. Outbound email - where a sales rep contacts prospects via content-rich, engaging and personalised emails.
  3. Social selling - where salespeople engage with prospects on social channels or lead sources (the main focus should be LinkedIn prospecting with B2B SaaS sales).

This process will then support fuel your sales cycle and fuel your B2B SaaS sales strategy

The SaaS sales cycle

There are a number of factors at play when it comes to determining your sales cycle. For instance, the more expensive your SaaS product the more decision-makers involved in the purchasing process. This can significantly lengthen your cycle.

So first things first, take the pricing of your software into consideration.

Next, consider how long you’d like your contract to run for. The average length of a sales cycle is 84 days, so you’ll need to factor this in when calculating your annual contract value (ACV). Other factors you’ll need to consider are: 

  • One-time fees (e.g. training costs) 
  • Upsell and cross-sell revenue 
  • Customer churn rate
  • ACV of all contracts added together
  • ACV of all contracts for an average revenue number

Thirdly, if you find your sales cycle is too long, you can take steps to shorten it by:

  • Consider offering a free trial from 30 days to two weeks. 
  • Rework your sales content with the help of a lead generation specialist
  • Encourage your marketing team to share educational content across new market channels before conducting outreach. 

Lastly, if you can't shorten your sales cycle be sure to build it into your budget from the start. If you don’t it will affect your sales goals and you’ll struggle to reach your target. 

Press ▶️ to better understand the stages of the B2B SaaS sales process so your team can start selling smarter!

Getting started selling SaaS 

You’ve got your fundamentals down - a well-defined sales process and a realistic sales cycle. Now what? 

You’ll need to choose a SaaS sales model. 

A SaaS business model will help you decide how many people you need to hire, how you’ll progress customers down your sales funnel and the steps needed for your company to evolve. 

There are 3 SaaS sales models you can choose from: 

1. Self-service model

A self-service sales model works best when your team is small and your average selling price is low because it’s more affordable and a good option for selling lower-priced SaaS at a higher volume. This model uses free trials to encourage users to sign up without the help of a sales rep. 

If you’d like to incorporate the self-service model, you’ll utilise B2B marketing to promote your solution and its value. 

2. Transactional sales model

A transactional model is the most common sales model as it’s the most scalable. The SaaS solution is normally higher with a larger sales team to encourage a more personalised selling approach. Outbound lead generation teams will reach out to small and medium-sized businesses to encourage a sale on a tiered pricing model. 

If you’d like to include a transactional model as part of your sales strategy then you’ll need an aligned sales and marketing team, provide in-depth SaaS sales training and encourage discounts to convert more hot leads.

3. Enterprise sales model

The third and final model is enterprise SaaS sales. This model is the most expensive and requires the most customisation and sales support. There are more than your average amount of decision-makers resulting in a longer SaaS sales funnel but the incoming revenue is well worth it. 

If you want to include an enterprise sales model in your SaaS business then you’ll need your product marketers, salespeople, accountants and engineers to be aligned for better customer service, better client relationships, more signed contracts and invoices sent. In other words, you’ll need a whole RevOps team to ensure a streamlined selling process. 

If you’re looking to move into a new market model, you’ll want to look into how to set revenue projections and targets that work with a go-to-market strategy. Press ▶️ for advice from sales leaders at Cognism and Bombora.


Defining your SaaS sales strategy (+ free guide) 

Now on to your sales strategy!

A SaaS sales strategy uses a variety of sales techniques to close as many deals or upsell to as many clients as possible.  

But, there’s no ”one size fits all” approach. You need to find what works for your business and where it is in SaaS adoption and development. 

A SaaS Sales strategy plays a huge role in your ability to grow and position your company for long-term success.

To reach the ultimate goal of generating revenue, your strategy should focus on:

  • B2B lead generation - generating customer interest in a product with the goal of turning that interest into a sale.
  • B2B prospecting - directly reaching out to your target customers to introduce your company, product, and services.
  • Closing deals - the final stage of the transaction, where agreements are signed and the sale is made.

🔥 Tip! Find out more about the best lead generation strategies and lead generation for technology startups.

Revolutionise the way your team sells SaaS products. All you have to do is implement 7 steps. To find out more, click to download our handbook 👇.

Sales Process Handbook - Click to download your free copy for SaaS Sales.

 

Creating your SaaS sales super team 

You can’t sell SaaS without a well-rounded sales team, and according to Tomasz Tunguz’s report on benchmarking SaaS startup efficiency with revenue per employee metrics, the fastest-growing SaaS companies grow their teams by 56% each year. 

That means you need to scale and fast!

But, how to build a saas sales team?

There are many factors at play when it comes to hiring a winning sales team including: 

  • Discovering reps who know how to sell software to companies
  • Whether or not an SDR will fit in with the company culture
  • Deciding on the expectations you’ll set for potential hires 

Our Head of Global Sales, Jon Ilett likes to treat the hiring process like a sales call. Here’s his guide to hiring exceptional SDRs.

But, that’s not the only way you can find the best talent and get them up to speed. Press ▶️ to hear what Joe Porter, BDR Manager at Juro has to say about hiring for software sales. 

Why it’s a good idea to start a career in SaaS

If you’re new to SaaS sales and you’re wondering if it’s a good direction to move into as a rep, it definitely is!

Here are 3 reasons why: 

  1. The SaaS technology market is expected to double by 2026, making it’s projected worth $307.3 Billion according to PR Newswire’s Valuates reports. 
  2. You can have any skill set if you want to sell SaaS, plus it opens your career up for growth across many departments including, marketing, product, software engineering and project management. 
  3. SaaS sales is vibrant and refreshing with loads of learning and networking opportunities. 

Since software sales is such a rapidly growing industry, it makes sense that it will create many opportunities for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to master it. 

Which brings us to our next point: 

How can you get into software sales? 

First off, it helps to have previous sales experience, but if you don’t start searching for entry-level positions. 

Since the SaaS tech sales are taking off, there are many startups advertising SaaS sales jobs, and often they aren’t looking for anyone great on paper. Rather, SaaS leaders are looking for passionate individuals with a passion to learn and grow.

Of course, it does help if you have a formal education to add to your resume but don’t worry if you don’t. There are loads of informal courses online that can help prepare you for a career in SaaS sales, and your employer will love that you took the initiative. 

It's handy to add a tailored email signature when you're talking to SaaS leaders. That'll show you're professional, and help you leave a lasting impression during the hiring process. For example, have a LinkedIn CTA so recruiters and leaders can connect with you, from one click in an email. 

Get started learning more! Press ▶️ to uncover what sales leaders look out for when hiring Sales Development Representatives (SDRs).

Now, depending on your SaaS sales experience you can expect to land one of the following roles:

Sales Development Representative

If you have 0-2 years experience you can apply for a junior SDR role. SDRs need excellent written and verbal communication skills and a strong desire to learn. SaaS sales is a fast-paced, challenging industry and meeting and exceeding sales goals and targets will be what advances your career. 

Account Executive / Manager

2-5 years of selling experience can help place or promote you in a managerial or mid-level sales/account executive position. Sales Executives take ownership of qualified opportunities. They need to have a good understanding of CRM systems, strong analytical and communication skills, and experience in leading or mentoring others. 

Sales Manager / VP

Senior sales reps have 5-7 years of experience. If you’re looking to advance toward a senior SaaS sales role, you’ll need to know your company's software inside and out, have strong consultative selling and C-level experience and a sharp focus on your personal goals. Ambition is key for landing a VP sales position. You’ll also need excellent analytical and problem-solving skills and great leadership qualities. 

All of this sounds fantastic, but what can you expect to earn in a SaaS sales role?

Software as a service sales is commission based.  

When a rep closes a deal or renews a new account, they’ll get a percentage of the deal as commission. There are different ways to structure SaaS commission from the accelerator model that increases commission for every dollar a rep brings in toward their goal, to a tiered commission rate. 

A tiered commission looks at percentages of attainment whereby reps have to hit milestones in order to move on to a new tier. Then, as their performance increases so does their commission. 

Every company will follow the commission structure that works for them, but one thing that remains the same throughout is that your commission will be added to a base salary.

So, how much can you expect to earn or pay junior, mid and senior reps? 

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a junior SDR is $48,217 while Mids can earn up to $79,000 and seniors $93,000 to $114,000.

Tracking your SaaS sales metrics 

Once you have your sales team in place, you’ll want to start measuring their performance, and the only way to do that is to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Lead generation KPIs are incredibly important in the SaaS sales sector, where deals are signed and revenue is calculated on an ongoing, monthly basis. 

The most important SaaS sales metrics to start off with are:

SDR KPIs

The KPIs tracked by your Sales Development Representative team should include:

  • Productivity metrics - the number of emails sent, phone calls made and LinkedIn activity an SDR generates (e.g.: the volume of InMails and connection requests sent to prospects).
  • Success metrics - including the number of meetings booked and attended by potential customers. Also the number of SQOs (sales qualified opportunities) the SDR sources, based on the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) criteria.

BDM KPIs

The KPIs tracked by your Business Development Management team should include:

  • Personal metrics - the average dollar amount of each BDM’s deals and the number of demos attended vs the number of opportunities won.
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) metrics - in dollars, the amount of MRR booked by each BDM, the MRR target for each BDM, and the percentage of the target won by each BDM vs their target.
  • Demo metrics - the number of demos booked vs the number of demos attended.
  • Pipeline metrics - a variety of KPIs tracking the SaaS sales pipeline, including the total number of open opportunities, the total number of opps moved to demo and to contract, plus the total number of lost opps vs the total number of closed-won opps.

Inbound vs outbound

The final SaaS sales metric to look at. This involves:

  • Comparing your inbound and outbound metrics. The percentage of inbound and outbound conversion rates are compared, followed by a comparison of the monetary value of inbounds and outbounds that are won.
  • Finally, comparing inbound vs outbound revenue won (in dollars). All of this comes together to determine the total amount of revenue generated from both inbound and outbound SaaS sales.

To wrap up this guide, we’re sharing the top 10 tips for selling SaaS, straight from our own SDR team. Press ▶️ to watch!

What tech can help with SaaS sales? 

The SaaS sales process can be greatly improved by the adoption of sales technology. A wide variety of tech for software sales exists which can be implemented at all stages of the sales funnel.

Through selling SaaS, it’s clear that technology has changed the way businesses and their sales teams interact with prospects. Sales automation software can help maximise productivity, streamline the sales process and make prospecting more efficient. 

The most important tool a B2B SaaS team should invest in is a good CRM like Salesforce, Hubspot or Pipedrive and a sales intelligence tool to help connect with the right leads at the right time. 

Press ▶️ to learn the mistakes a lot of sales teams make choosing tech for SaaS sales and why having a tech stack is so important for a successful sales strategy.

Supercharge your sales with Cognism 

Never miss a revenue opportunity again! Cognism can help your SaaS sales team build a pipeline, prospect effectively, and reach your ideal customers when they’re most likely to buy.  

Step up your B2B prospecting game today - register for a demo!

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