The growth of SaaS companies has been astronomical over the past decade. As of 2021, the market value of companies in the SaaS industry was $145.5 billion. That number will continue to grow; by 2024, economists predict that revenue from SaaS will top $369 billion.
SaaS companies are benefiting from significant revenue streams from their customers. In fact, SaaS is so popular that organizations worldwide use an average of 110 SaaS applications to support their businesses.
With the SaaS sector in overdrive, companies operating in the industry must establish the right approach to hiring a revenue growth manager to ensure their organization maintains a foothold in the market.
Here are five capabilities to look for when hiring the right SaaS sales leader for your organization.
In the traditional enterprise software sector, the sales team operates in a one-and-done manner. Once a customer decides to purchase software, the customer’s sales agreement is effective for a set point of time — often a year or more.
As a result, there isn’t much need for the sales team to cross department lines. Marketing handles advertising and analysis; the product department ensures a smooth deployment, and customer service answers inquiries.
SaaS is different. Under a SaaS agreement, the customer is under no obligation to continue with the company past a set period, usually a month or two. If the customer decides the product doesn’t work for them, they simply cancel and move on.
Thus, organizations hiring a new SaaS sales leader need someone who can handle client relationships from the beginning and throughout their relationship with the organization. The SaaS sales leader must understand the marketing process and customer support functions they can draw upon when targeting clients for their products.
There isn’t much need for data in the traditional enterprise software sector. After all, customers who decide to purchase the product are there for the long term. Besides achieving sales goals, retaining big customers, and meeting yearly revenue targets, not much attention is paid to data by enterprise software sales teams.
However, SaaS provides a lot of opportunities to study data. Not only is an initial sale important but so are factors such as long-term customer retention, customer satisfaction, SaaS product usage, and churn.
An effective SaaS sales leader is comfortable with data. They can manage important details in spreadsheets and CRM software and they also know how to interpret them into actionable advice.
The SaaS sales leader should identify the metrics necessary for the organization’s objectives and regularly monitor them. If the metrics provide insights that indicate swift action is required, the SaaS sales leader must have the business smarts to make it happen.
SaaS is not just software but an ongoing service that customers use. Companies in the SaaS industry produce software products or provide hosting services. The relationship between a SaaS provider and a customer doesn’t stop when the customer provides payment information. Instead, it continues indefinitely.
Along the way, the SaaS leader must work with their customers to ensure the client knows how to use the product. In addition, the SaaS leader should ensure their client uses the product to its maximum efficiency.
To do so, they have to adopt the mindset of a business consultant — someone who can step in and advise when they see the customer needs help.
Companies on a SaaS model can lose business if the customers find the product wasn’t appropriate to their needs or they didn’t know how to set it up effectively. The SaaS leader should act as a conductor, explaining all of the aspects of the product and how to set it up so it accomplishes what it is intended to do.
The traditional enterprise software model requires acquiring several high-value clients that drive the revenue stream for several years to come. As a result, sales leaders in the industry often court their largest customers, ensuring the company meets their needs above all else.
Losing a high-value client can be disastrous, leading to significant revenue drops that can quickly put the company out of business if the sales team does nothing to rectify the issue.
Under a SaaS-driven model, companies must court thousands of customers at once. There are no high-value customers; everyone pays the same amount and can easily cancel their subscription if they choose to do so.
Thus, SaaS companies must have a highly developed process that provides them with the operating procedures needed to maintain the sales cycle from beginning to end.
A SaaS sales leader must never forget the objective of a SaaS model — multiply, retain customers, and ensure an easy roll-out of the product that satisfies clients.
Finally, it is essential to have an effective sales team that understands the SaaS model and can look past traditional enterprise software sales techniques. The SaaS sales leader must guide the team by giving them the tools and information they need to be successful in their role.
While traditional software sales usually rely on a few key team players that develop long-lasting relationships with their clients, that isn’t the case with SaaS companies.
Sales representatives who work for SaaS companies must be able to handle a lot of different roles at once. For example, they may onboard a new customer one minute, then jump on a call to address software deployment problems with a client thirty minutes later.
Keeping a firm eye on the life cycle of a SaaS customer and the dynamics that often play out is crucial to having a successful sales team.
SaaS is an entirely different animal from traditional enterprise software. SaaS requires the sales team to embrace a new manner of acquiring customers, ensuring their satisfaction, and retaining them. There is no “one and done” in SaaS; instead, the sales team must put on a lot of different hats to keep their customers pleased with the service.
Ensuring your SaaS sales team leader has the right capabilities is necessary for achieving long-term revenue growth.
Our hands-on sales executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
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