For many SaaS companies, the effectiveness of the inside sales team is the key to scaling up. After all, other marketing channels often either hit a ceiling (i.e. inbound marketing, PPC, etc.) or simply aren’t efficient enough (i.e. all offline marketing activities).
However, managing an inside sales team is tough and you need a well-oiled machine in order to get customer acquisition costs inline with other marketing channels.
The best book I ever read in this area comes from Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler: Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com.
The general premise is that companies need to specialize all the different activities involved in the sales process. They should have a dedicated person/team who is responsible for prospecting and generating qualified leads. And quota-bearing sales reps should be exclusively focused on engaged leads (meaning no prospecting).
Here are a few key tips from the book:
- Get really clear on your ideal customer target and focus on generating good lead lists – both by using external databases like Data.com or ZoomInfo as well as by collecting customer data from the web (and ideally augmenting information by merging all data sources)
- Targeted unsolicited emails are more effective than cold calls. Use simple text-based emails (not fancy HTML-email templates) and target an 8-12% response rate from high-level prospects
- As mentioned above, separate roles should be used for prospecting for leads (sales development reps), following up with inbound leads (market response reps), closing deals (account executives), and maintaining accounts (account managers). Delineated roles drive better results and specialization of skills. Perhaps even more importantly, breaking up the roles yields more measurable results.
- Use the following metrics to benchmark your own sales organization:
- A full-time sales development rep should create 10-20 qualified leads per month
- A full-time market response rep can handle 400 inbound leads per month
I recommend every founder of a SaaS start-up to read this book. It offers a great mix of high-level strategy and practical implementation advice.
P.S.: If you want to talk to somebody that has a lot of experience in sales, I strongly recommend speaking to Gabe Luna-Ostaseski on Clarity
- Why Most Inside Sales Reps Fail – and What to Do About It (salesjournal.com)
- How to hire a sales person (filepicker.io)
- How to Build a Lead Qualification Team (insideview.com)