• SaaS sales Consultant: Key things to find the best one

    More and more SaaS businesses have recognised the need to hire talented SaaS sales consultants if they hope to achieve their goals.

    And the underlying goal of a sales consultant is simple - to help increase sales.

    That being said, the sales consultant is also responsible for helping leaders understand how they can overcome challenges and meet strategic goals, whilst offering ideas on how to grow successfully and profitably.

    Therefore, choosing the right SaaS sales consultant is vital for the success of your business.

    But how do you go about doing this?

    Well, if you’ve never had to hire a SaaS sales consultant before or perhaps you’ve made mistakes in the past, this guide is for you. We’ve pulled together a comprehensive selection of tips and advice about SaaS sales and finding a consultant.

    Below, we’re going to cover the following key chapters, so we can help you choose the right sales consultant for your SaaS business. Those chapters include:

    • How SaaS sales differ from other B2B selling

    • Signs you need to hire a sales consultant

    • Factors to look into when choosing a SaaS sales consultant

    How SaaS sales differ from other B2B selling

    There are several key difference between selling software as a service (SaaS) and selling other products in a B2B environment. This means that SaaS sales representatives and consultants are faced with new hurdles that others might not be. They must also apply different skills and tactics.

    In this first section, we’re going to take a look at what makes SaaS sales different from other B2B selling. This will give you a better idea of what to look out for when hiring a SaaS sales consultant. The key differences are:

    SaaS selling is more than just an initial sale

    When selling a stand-alone product, the key challenge is convincing the customer that your product is the only solution to their problems. Then, if they agree, you make the sale and ship out the product.

    However, when pitching SaaS, you are not selling a stand-alone product. You are selling something that is ongoing.

    You are also selling aftercare, customer support and the ongoing benefits of choosing your services over others. You're also not asking customers to part with their cash on a one-time basis. You're asking them to invest in your services and continue to pay monthly or yearly towards them.

    This means that SaaS sales consultants need to be able to market the ongoing benefits of your service.

    Important data analysis and metrics are different

    Because SaaS selling is about more than just the initial sale, the data analysis and metrics used to measure success will also differ.

    Where you might just be able to measure the number of sales and possibly the number of returns for a stand-alone product, SaaS businesses must consider other important factors. These include:

    • Number of new customers

    • Churn rate of existing customers

    • Re-subscriptions and return customers

    • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

    • Lifetime customer value (LVC)

    Keeping track of these important figures can help your business to determine whether your SaaS solution is delivering as promised and whether customers are sticking around or cancelling their contracts.

    Prospects can trial the service before investing

    Although some stand-alone B2B products will allow a returns period, there is rarely a free trial option.

    However, when it comes to SaaS, businesses can typically offer free trials to prospective customers. They can do so by granting them access to the service for a limited time only.

    This serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, prospects can see the value of the service and try it out before making an investment. Secondly, it helps SaaS sales consultants to see which prospects are genuinely interested in the service and which aren’t.

    This can make it easier to identify the types of customers that will benefit from their services. It also makes cold calling and pitching much easier. This can lead to a better success rate and ultimately more sales.

    SaaS sales models can differ from normal techniques

    Sales models in SaaS are also a little different from the normal techniques you expect in B2B sales. In fact, there are three different types of sales model that can be applied in SaaS sales. We’re going to look at these in more detail below:

    1. Traditional sales

    We’ll start with the traditional sales model, tailored slightly for SaaS selling. In most cases, salespeople rely heavily on their marketing team to help generate interest in their goods. This is done through things like social media campaigns, attending industry events, advertising and high-quality onsite content.

    In SaaS sales, one of the key aims here is not only to drum up interest but also to encourage free trials. This can help the sales team when cold calling and contacting prospects directly via phone or email.

    This traditional approach also relies on onsite sign-up forms and email lists to help find strong leads.

    In a nutshell, this traditional method means acquiring leads mostly through marketing and free trials and then using persuasive sales techniques to try and close the deal.

    2. Enterprise sales

    Enterprise sales, sometimes known as complex sales, is another common method for SaaS sales teams. This tends to involve much bigger contracts and typically means selling to an entire company.

    This is for companies that could need a license to use your services on hundreds, possibly even thousands, of computers across their business.

    These deals can be a potentially huge stream of revenue for your business and are therefore taken very seriously.

    Because you're looking at landing a big contract and dealing with a much bigger client, the sales techniques need to be altered slightly. It’s also likely that the sales cycle will be longer as there are often more decision-makers involved.

    Plus, the lengthy and extensive process creates a bigger risk of losing the deal.

    Therefore, patience and persistence during negotiations are a must! This will be the key to success in an enterprise deal. Ensuring you have a talented SaaS sales consultant to help land these bigger clients can increase your chances of closing the deal.

    3. Self-service sales

    Although this is more common in B2C selling, self-service is an option for some B2B SaaS companies. Essentially, a self-service model relies heavily on the customer to find the product, look at the different tiers or packages available and ultimately decide whether they want to sign up or not.

    This method is very rarely used when selling stand-alone products in a B2B environment.

    What’s more, this requires far fewer salespeople to be involved and so can help cut costs to the business. Marketing also tends to play a much bigger role in this type of sales mode. This often means sales professionals working closely with the marketing team to drive the best campaigns.

    Some big-name examples of self-service sales include Netflix, Spotify and Grammarly.

    Signs you need to hire a sales consultant

    We’ve already spoken a bit about the differences in sales techniques and what SaaS sales consultants can do for your business.

    But how do you know if you need to hire a SaaS sales consultant in the first place?

    To help you decide, we’ve pulled together a list of five signs it’s time to hire a sales consultant. These are as follows:

    1. Changes in your sales data

    Have you begun to notice negative changes in your business such as sales figures dropping, competitors soaring ahead, big clients cancelling deals or trials not converting to sales?

    If so, this is one of the key signs that it might be time to hire a sales consultant for your business.

    2. You don’t have a clear sales process

    To make your business a success, you need to make sure you have a very clearly defined sales process in place. It must be definitive and broken down into simple, manageable steps, set out in a logical order.

    This gives your sales reps a clear path to follow for successful selling. So if your sales process is unclear or even non-existent, it might be time to get a sales consultant on board.

    3. Your sales forecasting is incorrect

    Sales forecasting is an important tool that helps businesses to predict their sales and revenue. It’s also useful for evaluating performance and implementing appropriate changes.

    If your sales forecasting is often inaccurate and isn't doing what it should be, a sales consultant can help to change this. They will be able to get a better framework in place that will guide sales reps on how to create more accurate forecasts.

    4. Your margins are getting smaller

    Have you noticed that your profit margins are getting smaller recently or that the volume of sales is slowly decreasing? Then this is a big sign that it might be time to hire a sales consultant.

    They will be able to help you and your sales team to identify why this is happening and put effective measures in place to solve these issues. In turn, this will help to teach the sales reps techniques for improving the sales cycle and increasing profit margins.

    5. Your employee retention rates are dropping

    Have you noticed a trend of sales employees coming and going faster than you're making sales? Then this should raise a red flag. Not only is repeatedly hiring new sales reps going to be costly but you also have to train them from scratch each time you onboard a new recruit.

    So if this is the case, hiring a sales consultant can help to support your sales team and get to the bottom of why so many people keep leaving. They will also work hard to boost the overall happiness of your sales reps through training and development.

    Factors to look into when choosing a SaaS sales Consultant

    Companies that hire a SaaS sales consultant are more likely to see immediate success. Plus, those that choose to hold onto their consultant will see even bigger, longer-lasting results.

    But while hiring a sales consultant can be beneficial for your business, it’s vital that you find the right one.

    There are several key factors you must consider during the selection process and we’re going to take a look at the most important ones in this next section.

    Determine if you want a strategic expert or a functional specialist

    There are two types of consultants and not all are made equally. First of all, you have a strategic consultant whose approach focuses on the strategic sales issues your business is facing as a whole.

    Secondly, you have a functional specialist who brings with them a very specific technical skillset. This type of consultant tends to operate more as an outsourced support resource rather than a full-on strategic adviser like the above.

    So essentially, you need to determine the needs of your business and whether a strategic expert or a functional specialist is going to be best for the job.

    Whether they will customise their services according to your needs

    When it comes to the sales process, there are certain steps you can take to boost your chances of making a sale. That said, there is no one size fits all approach that will work every time.

    Every sales process must be tailored to work for the specific product or service, company and team. As such, you need a SaaS sales consultant that is going to create a customised approach to solving your problems and increasing sales.

    You also want someone that is versatile, knowledgeable and is able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the team. This way, they can implement tailored advice and training that really works.

    Whether your focus is on the top or bottom line

    Just as there are two types of consultants, there are also two key focal points for sales consultants. The first is management consulting which looks at existing operations to reduce bottom-line costs.

    In contrast, business (also known as growth) consulting focuses on building the top-line through techniques such as marketing, new services and CRMs.

    Again, your business must decide which is more important. This way you can choose the right sales consultant to help you achieve these goals.

    Whether consulting is their primary service

    Many professions claim to offer strategy and consulting alongside their other services. Now, this doesn't mean their services aren't any good but typically you're going to get better results from someone who offers SaaS sales consulting as their primary function.

    So when looking for a sales consultant, choose someone who offers this as a primary, not secondary service.

    If they offer a unique approach

    On a smiler note, you want someone who can offer unique as well as tailored techniques.

    The best sales consultants are those who possess a fresh approach to their sales and training techniques. As such, you want someone who has a different approach from the rest and can give your business a competitive edge.

    They should be able to invent new approaches and strategies depending on market trends. They must then be able to implement these quickly and efficiently.

    Whether they understand your services

    A good sales consultant needs to understand your company’s SaaS and its value to your clients. Therefore, they need to show that they have a good grasp of your company’s background, the marketplace, your mission and key offerings.

    What their track record looks like

    One important thing to consider when hiring a SaaS sales consultant is their track record. Do they have credible reviews and proof of their services? If not, this might be a sign they're not right for your business.

    To find out more about their achievements in the past you should look for (or ask to see) testimonials or case studies from previous clients. You could also ask for some references that can vouch for them if they don't have any testimonials ready to present.

    In summary

    If you're planning on hiring a SaaS sales consultant, this guide contains a lot of useful information that could help. So we thought it would be helpful to pull together a quick recap of the key points you need to take away from this guide:

    • There are several key differences between SaaS sales and other B2B selling. Most notably, SaaS selling is more than just an initial sale you must also sell aftercare and support. Plus, prospects can usually trial the service before investing

    • This means SaaS sales models tend to differ from normal techniques

    • Some of the key signs that you need to hire a sales consultant include changes in your sales data, incorrect forecasting and reduced profit margins. High employee turnover and an unclear sales process are also red flags

    • When looking for a sales consultant, you must determine whether you want a strategic expert or functional specialist

    • You should also make sure that consulting is their primary service and that they offer innovative techniques

    • Finally, ensure they understand your product’s value and will customise their services according to your company's needs

    Keeping this advice in mind, you will be better equipped to choose the perfect SaaS sales consultant for your business.

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