Sales Management 1 Comment

What if Sales IS Rocket Science?

Jacco Van der Kooij

September 9th, 2015

What if Sales Is Rocket Science?

Link to online asset: https://prezi.com/ddettqz9njru/customer-focused-approach-to-sales/

Too often I hear people say “sales is not rocket science“.  Although the complexity of launching a rocket goes well beyond my imagination, the complexity of human beings working together appears to be equally challenging.

So if sales is to be “rocket science”, who are the astronauts, the rocket scientists, and what is our destination?

What Would Happen if…

What would happen if we treat sales as rocket science, would we have vetted processes?, would we have frequent training programs?, accredited certification?, or a Sales Operations Manual?

INTERESTED BUT TIRED OF READING? CLICK HERE TO EXPERIENCE THIS STORY IN HIGH-DEF

How We Got Here…

  • SaaS 1.0: Late 1990s, early 2000s, SaaS 1.0 was born to reduce the impact of multiple code branches resulting in increased QA cycles. Due to all the branches it took more time to test code vs write code. What was needed was a single code branch all clients could share in an open infrastructure. The cloud as a technology was born, and in the years to come would grow to satisfy the needs of small companies all sitting on a single code base.
  • SaaS 2.0: Late 2000s, fueled by the burst of the housing bubble, SaaS 2.0 appeared with a financial model based on recurring revenues. The RoI of a perpetual model vs. that of a monthly license model was easy to digest as there simply was no more CapEx left in budgets. SaaS companies powered by automated marketing campaigns and inside sales organizations had a field day, as they were reaping the rewards with a very simple RoI.  
  • SaaS 3.0: In 2015 we see a very different situation. The automated marketing campaigns are like tired oil pumps, and not providing the thousands of leads anymore. Why? Because everyone now offers a SaaS service, your SaaS service drowns among thousands of SaaS services. Try to stand out at Dreamforce! At the same time inside sales organizations are not able to deliver tens of SQLs/Rep anymore. Why? Because the value proposition is not as simple anymore and the insides sales team lacks training to sell advanced value props to the CxO (see previous post – Stop the Sales Hacking)

Oops – Houston we’ve got a …

A New World

For Marketing & Sales to be successful in SaaS 3.0 they will need to work very closely together and help turn sales into THE differentiator. They have to build the right kind of plan – together. They have to intimately understand the conditions to succeed in this new, and for many, foreign world.

  • The new Business ModelAnything as a Service. You can buy razors as a service, elevators as a service. Pretty cool. But realize this, in Software As A Service the playing field has been completely equalized. Today, everyone looks and feels the same, same color schemes, similar U/I, all logo’s are blue or green. The barrier to entry is minimal. You will find yourself competing with 3 college drop-outs who are couch surfing and powering themselves with state-of-the-art tools. How will you differentiate?
  • The new Business OrientationCustomer Focused. Since 75+% of the revenue is earned after the deal closes, the focus has started to shift and will continue to shift to where the revenue is. Expect Customer Success to evolve over the years to come, particularly with specialized responsibilities. As a successful SaaS 3.0 company, you need to lead not lag in customer success.
  • The new B2B BuyerConsumers.  Today every B2B buyer is a consumer who has had a great experience buying a $19 t-shirt or book online. They expect the same when buying a $24,000 software license.  Successful companies must be able to cater a B2B CxO with the convenience of a consumer, yet with a customized, consultative, provocative B2B sales experience.
  • The new B2B Sales Force – Online.  Traditionally the B2B sales force has been in the field, close to the customer to develop relationships, and save on travel costs. Today we only need to meet a client every so often, at an annual social event. When asked, most customers prefer the shorter, get-to-the-point online meetings, at a higher frequency. Today, sales teams need to excel in online selling. Great news, they can have a lot more meetings since they spend a lot less time (and money) on travel.

While marketing and sales organizations are studying “what went wrong” and “what is the journey of our Ideal Customer Profile”, our clients simply Google the problem and in 0.43 seconds get the answers they need! Or do they?

While marketing and sales are studying how to engage and sell buyers, buyers Google how to solve their problem

True, originally our clients got great results from a search, but today we see paid influencers, tweeters, and bloggers that can tweak these results to the interest of the highest bidder. Yikes, we are back at the beginning.  

Is there really nobody interested in helping our clients solve their problem? Are we all just interested in pushing ourselves to the front of the line?

I believe this is creating an incredible opportunity for a new generation of superstars, and companies that wish to embrace a more modern approach to sales. In this approach, a happy customer generates more leads – powered by social media.

The new sales professionals “diagnose” via research, “speak” in tweets, “converse” in blogs, and “pitch” in videos.

This new generation will rise to be focused on helping customers, powered by great insights into the problem, the solution, the context – AND – are able to communicate this in the online domain.  

Case-in Point: Equalizing the Playing Field.

If you have two very equal and thus highly competitive services, who do you as a client go with? In most cases, clients go with the person who answered their questions late at night, tuned the offering to their needs, and helped to validate the decision to their management.  

Sales People are the Unique Selling Point in SaaS

Well if sales people are the Unique Selling Point, then the way we sell has become as important as what we sell.

A sales force can now be seen as an unfair advantage. We can determine what the goal is of that sales organization; no longer to just close, but to make customers successful. Why? Because this is where 75+% of the revenue comes from.  So with this new destination, who are the astronauts and rocket scientists?

The new destination for sales is to make the customer successful

Well, if the destination is “success”, the astronauts who are on their way to the destination must be our clients. The rocket scientists who get them there must be the sales professional (SDR/AE/CSM). Hang on, that would make sales – rocket science!

Once we treat sales like rocket science, more SaaS companies will become successful

Want Blueprints?

I hope you found this post and its insights valuable. Many more insights on how to build, and operate a scalable SaaS organization can be found in the book, “Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization“. Yes that is a rocket on the cover of the book.

This is not an e-book or a stack of blogposts put together.  This is a hardcover coffee table sized book (144 pages) with highly detailed blueprints on how to design, implement and launch a scalable SaaS Sales organization, and is based on insights gained from working with 50+ companies over the past 24 months.  You can buy the book on <<Amazon>>.

About the author

Jacco Van der Kooij

Following a 15-year career as a head of sales for Silicon Valley startups, Jacco van der Kooij launched a sales consulting practice in 2012. Winning By Design helps B2B companies with a blue print design that is based on best practices of what works today, oversees implementation including recruitment & training, and with a hands on involvement throughout the launch. Check out the Winning By Design playbook series for more from Jacco.

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