Sep 20, 2020
My next guest is the go-to expert for founders wanting to build or scale their sales teams. After 15 years as a sales leader in the SaaS space, she founded Sales Acceleration Group to help other SaaS companies improve their sales, process, strategy, and people to increase their sales revenue and scale more quickly. Welcome to Scale Your Sales Podcast Kristie Jones
Having an early stage start-up is a high-risk probability. Most of her clients have gotten some Venture Capital (VC) funding. Anytime you get to take money from someone else, some expectations go along with that. Kristie says she does zero and improvement. $2 to $5 million in VC backing, many times don't have a sales team at all the founder has been playing sales rep, and so with VC company funding, they're looking for two things, to build a sales team, and they want to improve the product through development.
Kristie's favourite founder story is someone who was working for the man; they went out into the universe to find a software programme or something to help them solve a business problem that they had. They could not find it, so they built it. Many founders are more technical or mechanical in background and developers themselves and do not have a sales and marketing background. Kristie starts at zero, everything from purchasing a CRM system and implementing that for them. To help clients, figure out what sales process and discovery questions and what the sales cycle looks-like, and hiring, training, and onboarding and continuing to coach and mentor sales reps and founders as we build out the team.
Kristie says she has a straightforward communication style, and so she is not for everyone. She understands that for founders they product is their baby they give birth to it, and, caring for it every day. Rejection is hard, and sometimes the go-to-market strategy is off. When founders build the product, they have a specific use case in mind and industry, person, or a particular company. Kristie helps to open their mind and possibilities to other vertical or industry sector use cases. Founders must be willing in the first 18 to 24 months to pivot. Kristie has worked with plenty of founders where the version two or version three looks nothing like version one. As they go to market, they get feedback such as, 'it would be great if we could do these other four things.' Kristie says you have got to have some discipline around customisation the product, and you must be more Willow than Oak in the start-up space.
Kristie introductions come from SaaS start-up founders and venture capital companies and PE companies. 99.9% is word-of-mouth and referral, in particular those that invest in series A and early-stage company.
Kristie tenures typically six to nine months saying she likes to get out before she starts to tarnish. She aims to train the trainer, Kristie is happy to be the therapist, but within 12 months, she wants them off the couch with the tools to be self-sufficient.
More companies are comfortable using consultants coming in and filling a knowledge gap or get a process improved or built. Kristie says if she finds there is some resistance, to VCs bringing her in like a double agent spy, she says there should not be any secrets between the start-up and the VC. Many managing partners at venture capital companies were prior business owners themselves, and we are all here to help, and that is the attitude. If you can reduce your time to revenue, you hit that revenue goal that the VC has placed on you, and that is her role is.
SaaS has a little bit of an advantage over some other industries; the concept of customer success was born in SaaS. When she uses the words customer health, many companies are not sure what she is talking about. Kristie builds Customer Health Scorecard to help with to instil with her clients that customer success starts at day one, people think of it as post-sale. Kristie spent a few years at Gainsight, which is customer success, global leader. How you treat customers and what they can expect from you and the trust level starts at that first prospecting call. It establishes with the client, future client, or prospect, to see how your company and culture operates. I agree with Kristie that we need to spend more time thinking about the impact that salespeople have on customers who often think it is a one and done or sell it and forget it. You are the impression that you leave the client with that is probably going to stay with them for after you have disappeared from their lives.
Kristie spends a lot of time talking with her customers talking about NPS, SaaS is all wrapped up in NPS. Like CSAT scores, it is one indicator of customer success. It is not hard to do, right and in early-stage, you do not have that many customers, says Kristie. Companies have an excellent product, and they give somewhat she calls White Glove service. They go, we have a 98% retention rate, well sure in the first 12 months! But that may not be a valid subset of what may be coming down the pipe, they do get lulled. A lot of those early customers are quid pro quo, or they came out of the personal Rolodex. Founders reach out to people that they already have a business relationship with, but it is not necessarily the right indication of what future churn could be.
Trust is earned and not given and starts at day one. Are you showing up for appointments on time? Are you prepared? It is disrespectful to ask a question that you can find on the internet, it is a waste of people's time, instead spend our time asking more strategic questions. Walk your talk, is hashtag own your sh-t. Mistakes happen, things that you do not intend, how quickly are you falling on that sword and apologising and doing what you need to do to make it better. Does your organisation have an accountability culture that starts at the top and goes down? The goal is for a customer to reach out to you and say, 'I know this is not exactly your area of expertise, but I have got this business problem, and I thought you could help.' This is when you know you have become a trusted advisor.
Kristie goes on to recall how she worked with a SaaS start-up, and 18 months after she had started with them, they were purchased by Cisco.
If Kristie was on a desert island on her own, as a voracious listener, Kristie is addicted to her audible and powers through four books a month as a knowledge junkie. Frankly, nobody really wants to be on the desert island by themselves.😊
Offer Founders/Owners a free 20 min consultation on the topic of sales process and strategy, go to https://salesaccelerationgroup.com/sys