Structuring your SaaS sales team

We just got back from visiting with the sales team of a fantastic SaaS business that has grown 30% in the past 5 months. Below we share some of their best practices which hopefully can apply to your SaaS business as well.

Travel. Most SaaS businesses that sell a ~$20,000 annual subscription have sales teams that sell over the phone and email. Rarely is there travel involved, and in our view this is a mistake for a few reasons: i) sales people do their best work face to face; and ii) your competition probably isn’t traveling, so letting your reps travel will give them an edge. If you don’t think travel is worth the expense and time, then you’re not giving your sales team enough credit for being able to sell.

Pay your sales team well. The sales team at this company earns above market compensation comprised of a decent base salary and strong commission (5% to 10%). As a result, the company has very productive sales reps and no turnover. As a CEO, if there is one check you should be more than happy to write, it’s big commission checks. The company also has multiple touch points with the customer: the onboarding team, customer success, and sales rep all interface with customers regularly which gives more opportunities to prevent churn.

Involve onboarding early and often. Onboarding is absolutely critical to the long-term success of the customer. At this company, the statistics bore this out. According to one of the founders “since the launch of our onboarding service in January 2015, 326 accounts have been activated. 93 of those accounts received our onboarding service. Of those 93 accounts, 76 are still active (82%), 17 have cancelled (18%). 233 accounts did not receive any onboarding. Of those 233 accounts, 87 are still active (38%), 146 have cancelled (62%).” As a result of this finding, the company onboards every customer whether they pay or not (granted paid onboarding is more intense), and they offer re-onboarding to big customers as often as they need it.

When to hire the next sales rep. Don’t hire your next inbound rep until your current reps can’t handle any more leads. This will do a few things: i) it keeps your current reps happy as they’ll have fewer reps to share leads with; ii) it ensures your leads are getting serviced by matured, seasoned sales reps, not newbies; and iii) it keeps costs down since that’s one less body you have on board. Outbound reps that do their own hunting should be hired any time you find a good one — sales reps that can fill their own pipeline are absolute gems.

Sales reps should do only one thing. Your sales reps should only be selling new customers, talking to old ones to make sure they don’t churn, and talking to old customers to discover upsell opportunities. Every minute a rep spends on billing, support, organizing Salesforce, or any other task that isn’t directly customer facing is costing you revenue.

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co-founder at Blossom Street Ventures. Email me at

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