What the best SaaS sales reps know that others don't

by Steli Efti
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Great SaaS sales reps can change your entire business.

The best ones are efficient, motivated, effective, and creative in how they operate on a day-to-day basis. They have a knack for identifying quality prospects, making strong impressions quickly, and closing deals that seem out of reach.

So what is it about these SaaS sales reps that differentiates them from the rest? What do they know about the industry that mediocre sales reps don't?

Let's break down a few things that all the best SaaS sales pros understand...

Upselling value to existing customers is key

Tomasz Tunguz explains that the fastest-growing SaaS businesses rely much more on upsells than their slower-growing competitors. And the larger the business, the greater the impact of upselling. While SaaS salespeople know that there are significant growth opportunities in upselling, far too many overlook it for one simple reason:

It’s hard.

Upselling is hard because when a relationship has already been established, it’s not always easy to know when to re-engage and offer something new. On top of that, an existing customer already knows your flaws, and they have an opinion on whether or not you’re delivering. So when you’re looking to make an upsell, you’re going into the interaction with previous baggage and need to show them the product possibilities that they could tap into if they give you even more money.

One of the best ways to make an upsell happen is to integrate the product into your efforts. Take advantage of the very technology you’re selling. Rather than picking up the phone on a whim to see if your customer would be interested in a premium plan, leverage data from their account. Track how close the customer is getting to their usage limits or their data threshold. Pay attention to any interactions within the product that could provide a reason for this customer to upgrade to a premium account.

Persistence is a key driver of SaaS sales

According to a study from The Bridge Group and their inside sales metrics, the average sales development rep makes 52 calls per day. If you’re not cut out for this type of persistent effort, it’s going to be tough for you to make the leap from a good sales rep to a great one—especially when you consider these stats from TOPO:

  • It takes 18 or more dials to connect with a prospect
  • Call-back rates are typically below 1%
  • Only 23.9% of sales emails are opened

You might be thinking: Why do we even bother?

You bother because you know that once you get through to the prospect, you can deliver value that will drive meaningful results for their business.  

Technology is a modern sales rep’s best friend

One of the biggest shifts in SaaS sales has been the rise of inside sales.

Inside sales is the act of identifying, nurturing, and turning leads into customers remotely. While many people assume this means cold calling, the tools that SaaS sales reps can leverage go far beyond a telephone. Today, you can take advantage of inside sales CRM tools like Close.io to get an overview of all your sales activity and much more.

Technology has changed the way the best sales reps interact with prospects, maximize productivity, and perform other tasks essential for success.

Modern CRM tools and social media constantly create new ways for users to interact. The best sales reps recognize this and strive to stay on top of the latest technology, so they can be as efficient and effective as possible.

For example, according to a piece from Adobe, 54% of consumers receive at least one SMS message daily, and 50% of U.S. consumers who receive branded SMS texts go on to make direct purchases. When a great SaaS sales rep hears stats like this, their first instinct is to think about how SMS can help them nurture leads. Luckily, CRM software offers SMS capabilities to give you a 360-degree view of all interactions directly from your laptop.

Marketing metrics have an influence on sales metrics

Far too many sales professionals think that sales and marketing should be isolated. The best sales reps not only respect their marketing colleagues, they recognize the role that marketers play in helping salespeople achieve success. From the top of the sales funnel to the content living on your blog that helps sales reps nurture a relationship—marketing has a role.  

The most successful SaaS companies understand the importance of tracking visitors, trials, conversion rates, and closed deals, all with the goal of improving these key metrics over time. In most SaaS companies, it’s the marketing team that manages this stream of data, and the best sales reps ensure that they’re a part of the discussion. A sales rep can give the marketing team insights from the ground level and decrease the cost of customer acquisition.

A growing sales team creates a growing company

Tomasz Tunguz reports that the fastest-growing SaaS companies scale their organizations very quickly, growing their teams by an average of 56% each year. The best sales reps understand the importance of working as a team and growing with a company.

Many sales reps are territorial and reject the idea of competing with colleagues. The best sales reps welcome the idea of a bigger team. They don’t view their colleagues as competitors but as partners who can help them get closer to their quota and increase the overall value of the company.

How can you become a better SaaS sales rep?

Outside of these key insights, the best SaaS sales reps are all committed to one thing: Learning. The fact that you’re reading this post is a great sign that you’re well on your way to a successful career in SaaS sales. That said, it’s not going to be easy.

You’re going to have to invest in yourself and ensure that you’re working at an organization that is willing to invest in you as well. That means watching webinars, listening to podcasts, and talking to your team about the modern tools and training you need to be the best SaaS sales rep you can be.

If you’re interested in building a reliable and repeatable sales funnel for your SaaS business, sign up for our Startup Sales Success course. It’s a free course that gives you everything you need to stand out from the crowd.

Sign up for the Startup Sales Success Course