In this step, Notion outlines 'The Pod approach' to SaaS sales - an alternative to the traditional model
We’ve already seen that finding pioneering leaders is expensive and complex; now imagine scaling up the team. Mistakes will be amplified (you’ll just be running down the wrong road faster). Luckily, there is a formula to SaaS sales, and a formula to building out ‘sales success pods’.
Scaling up talent amplifies risk, so minimise it with a ‘pod’ approach
Use recruiters strategically rather than transactionally
Replicate pods to create economies of scale
Most importantly, as Jacco van der Kooij of Winning By Design points out, the structure of an effective SaaS sales team is service-oriented.
Instead of a hunter-gathering salesperson who hands over to a delivery team, the modern SaaS sales team is continuously invested in every client’s success across the midterm. A salesperson, therefore, works hand-in-hand with a customer success rep.
The salesperson also needs to be:
• technically aware (not the old school salesperson who “never speaks to the tech team because we keep them in the basement”)
• a capable pre-sales consultant focused on client needs rather than monthly targets
• and also skilled at remote-selling through screen-sharing presentations, because even after the early days, there won’t be time to travel to every client
These people are hard to find – especially as most salespeople have grown up steeped in a target culture.
To solve this, our recruiter commentator, Alistair Robinson of Harvey Nash, says it’s essential to use recruiters strategically rather than on a slot-by-slot basis. You know you’re going to scale up, so share your talent roadmap and have your recruiter identify the challenges, characteristics of ideal candidates, resourcing pinch-points and key motivators for the community of people you wish to attract.
Once you have an initial commercial pod, led by that rare beast, the competent SaaS salesperson, and you know what business they can bring in per month, you can then start to optimise those pods.
For example, if your first commercial pod requires one salesperson and 50% of the time of people in customer success, demand generation and marketing, your second commercial pod will just need a salesperson to start the wheel turning.
Every time you add a new pod, you can begin to enjoy economies of scale.
Any European enterprise tech company, with the ambition to be a category leader, must conquer the US. Download your copy of “Crossing the Atlantic” here.
A few words of wisdom from the Notion Family:
People, people, people. I’m sure everyone says the same, but hiring salespeople throughout the world is hard, hiring salespeople in America if you’re British is on another level. Because they all sound like they’re the best salespeople in the world in their last job they did. It just takes a while. Charlie Osmond, Chief Executive Officer, Triptease
If you master your online sales techniques, you need less people on the ground, you’ll change the whole dynamic of the sales organisation. You have to excel at online selling – tap selling on a browser. Do you want your sales team selling or driving? Jacco van der Kooij, Founder, Winning by Design
You have got to lead with someone who can demonstrate the capability of selling SaaS-based solutions. Then, your commercial organisation will need strong players in customer success, pre-sales and solution architecting; services areas that can functionally combine to present clients with end-to-end SaaS solutioning. Alistair Robinson, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Executive Search
Crossing the Atlantic