How he founded Sales playbook
I founded SalesPlaybook after getting frustrated by the lack or absence of sales support for startup founders.
What are the major problems founders under $1million ARR have?
Very often until about $500k – $1 million, it is still very founder driven. A lot of these companies have never done outbound sales and they don’t have a repeatable process in place and they haven’t really nailed down their ideal customer profile. They might have 10+ customer profile in a certain niche or micro-niche but are they really able to say we sell to the head of marketing of industrial equipment companies with 1000 – 5000 people in the West of North America that have these three major problems and are looking for these metrics.
How founders can identify their ICP and clearly define the industry they are serving?
If you are listening to this and you already have your first five customers, dig deeper on these customers. Have a virtual conference with them and get open feedback. Record and publish video testimonials so that other people can understand how clients benefit from you and where they have been before and after working with you, what problems they have and what they found when working with you because that makes it easier to have a dial with other customers and to search for lookalikes.
For example, if you work with BMW, you might ask your buyer persona about their buyer journey and then you reach out to people at Tesla, Porsche and other automobile OEMS and ask them if they have the same challenge.
If you don’t have any customers, you just need to do the same thing but by using problem interviews.
A common issue with founders is they want to go for this big six figures ARR users straight away but they don’t have the trust and credibility for it unlike the larger companies. It is important to be humble, ask for problems and do more of discovery initially.
Now that LinkedIn has capped the weekly connection requests to 100 invitations per week. You can join events as a way to circumvent it and message everyone even if you are not connected to them. You can ask them questions like last time you invested in something in this space, how much did you invest? What results were you looking for? And how did you evaluate the solution?
How did the buyer journey look like?
Don’t sell your own solution, rather just go in and ask them how they do it. Imagine going to a Doctor, the Doctor won’t immediately tell you here is the prescription I have painkillers and covid test and if you buy both at the same time, I will give you a discount. That is not how a Doctor works because prescription without diagnosis is mistreatment and you can get jailed for that.
Ask questions first, don’t start the dialog with “we have”, “we do”, “our technology”
Another problem SaaS founders face at this stage is tremendously long sales cycle of 6 – 18 months and not only am I running out of cash which is killing my business but I am not learning quick enough.
Reaching out to more people and having more conversations quickly instead of sending out two hours workshop, you can have 5 minutes calls. I think I attended like 5 startup weekends where you start Friday night and you need to get 20 – 50 feedbacks from real potential users by Sunday.
There is no excuse like people are at home or they don’t have time. Startup weekend people do this on a Saturday and you can get things done by calling them or sending a voice message or a video via LinkedIn native message. Don’t overthink things but go out and ask them for insights on their journey.
How can you identify a predictable sales funnel?
This is a great time to look at both unit economics and customer goodness.
Unit economics in the sense of which channel works best for you. Does LinkedIn work better for certain cohort than email? Does email work better on the conversion or effort per hour? Do you get tons of lead and you struggle to convert them from free trial to paid? Do they stay for a long time or do they churn at higher than desirable rates?
Customer goodness looks at who is getting the most value. I had in the same week a sales workshop where someone offered me $2.5k for a three-hours sales workshop and another said could you do a three-hours sales workshop for free and you will get leads and another said will you could host a three-hour workshop with us and you will pay us $3.5k and we will get you an audience . It was pretty much the same slide deck but completely different perception of value.
After you hit about a 100 customers, you want to dig deeper into who is getting the most value from this, who is willing to invest and do these people have friends who are the same type of customer.
Other important observations listeners need to be aware of
I am tinkering with a short e-book on 25 B2B Sales Myths debunked. A lot of SaaS founders are very successful professionals before starting a company so they assume that if they build it, they will come so they don’t bother to do selling or fundraising first, rather they focus on only product driven growth which they see happen with successful companies such as Slack or Dropbox but that is not how it works behind the scenes.
They look at a 16 year overnight success and think they are just going to start on day one with the same thing.
People always underestimate messaging, lead generation and customer centricity while they overestimate technology and the value of the solution perceived by the customer without them doing outbound sales.
I would recommend that you do the first 10 sales videos by yourself then make the process repeatable then bring in sales people once it is repeatable and you know the process work.
Which category or characteristics of sales people are you referring to?
I think in the beginning, you need hunters because there isn’t so much to close.
I see a lot of SaaS founders recruiting people from established SaaS companies such as salesforce which can cost you a fortune and they essentially recruit closers but there is not enough for them to close.
These account executives are typically not good sales development reps and in the end you might have 3-5 people sitting around not having enough deals to close and not able to generate proper ROI for their pretty high salary.
In the beginning hire SDRs (sales development representative), hire people who can fill your funnel, who can grow with the journey and do the discovery calls themselves then maybe grow into closing deals themselves.
Don’t also underestimate investing into customer success early because customer lifetime value is one of the key metrics to look out for in SaaS.
Tell us more about SalesPlaybook?
Right now 50% of the companies we work with are from Switzerland, 25% are from Germany but we have customers from all over the world such as Argentina, Romania, Holland, Sweden, UK. Covid made everything remote but we did that before Covid so there is no limitation on that.
That being said, we won’t feel very comfortable saying we are the best Sales Acceleration Enablement for a Chinese startup because sales is also a very local thing.
Sales Playbook – Startups that sell are startups that scale
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