Most sales leaders will tell you: without a clear and well-defined sales
methodology, you’re going nowhere. The goal of this presentation is to
gather ideas and advice on how to do sales from leading thinkers in the
field and present them in a short and actionable way.
Read on to discover why you need to setup a sales team, find out more
about the PUCCKA sales methodology advocated by Mark Suster and
see how it you could apply it to your own sales efforts.
Note: I strongly encourage you to go and read the original articles I’m
referring to in full, they’re definitely worth it!
The first question you’re likely to ask yourself is, do I even need a sales
team to begin with? Shouldn’t my product do the talking? While
seductive, the idea that you don’t need to go out there by yourself and
get hands-on with customers can be very dangerous to your business’
You may grow without putting a formal sales process in place - but you
won’t grow as fast as you could, nor as fast as your competitors do.
Sales are the living, breathing heart of your business and they should
be treated as such.
Sales are the key to your growth
Other than the standard things (an idea, passion and the willingness to act), the
most important thing that aspiring entrepreneurs need is the understanding that
80% of entrepreneurship is sales and marketing. If as a founder, you're not
obsessed with sales and marketing, you're a liability rather than an asset. [...]
So if there is one thing you should learn before starting a company, it is "sales
and marketing" (in the broad sense) — and you better be passionate about it,
because you'll invest years of your life to selling and evangelizing to make your
company a success. Without customers or a team, you won't need any other
skills, because you'll be out of business.
Building a business = doing sales
One of the myths of SaaS is that the products are so good, so easy to use, so
quick to deploy… that the product sells itself. Given the popularity of try-before-
you-buy and freemium-to-premium models for software as a service, it’s easy to
see where that myth comes from.
But as many startups discover to their horror — after they “land” users and try
to “expand” to more departments in a large company or government agency —
this is far from the truth. Even with early viral growth, SaaS products don’t sell
themselves. Strong enterprise sales is critical to capturing market share.
Products don’t sell themselves
Jason M. Lemkin:
A more fundamental question we’ve touched on but mostly bypassed is this: do
I even need salespeople at all? I mean, Atlassian doesn’t have any. Can’t I just
do a Basecamp model? Can’t I just have Customer Happiness Officers? Well
maybe you can. More power to you. As long as there is enough momentum in
your business to hit your revenue goals without a true sales team, then by
definition you don’t need one.
The sales rep’s job isn’t to lie, cheat or steal, or convince you that that’s just
“surface rust” on the ’05 Impala. Rather, it’s to be a trusted guide, a consultant,
helping them through the product evaluation and purchasing process around a
great product with very high ROI. It’s about learning, bonding, adding true and
real value. And then... asking for the fullest, largest possible check ;-)
The need for salespeople
But I don’t know anything about
sales - how should I do them?
There are a lot (really, a LOT) of sales methodologies out there. While
reviewing all of them extensively would be teh work of a lifetime, I’ve
researched a fair share of them, such as the Sandler sales system.
While a general-purpose sales system should work reasonably well for
any B2B company, SaaS sales present some unique challenges.
Based on personal experience, I decided to focus on the methodology
presented and implemented by Mark Suster at his two companies. It’s
both short, full of specific and actionable exemples and overall a very
good fit for B2B SaaS companies.
Selecting an approach
In my journey to better understand the sales process, my management team
and I developed a sales methodology. It was really a common language we
could all use with each other that became really important as we added new
sales people and new geographic territories.
It helped make sure that we all thought about our sales campaigns in a uniform
way and that we had a common language that would help us decide where to
spend our limited resources.
We called our methodology “PUCCKA”: Pain. Unique Selling Proposition.
Compelling Event. Champion. Key Players. Aligned Purchasing Process.
PUCCKA: a sales methodology
Pain. It’s a reminder that unless your prospect has a need to solve a problem,
they are not going to buy a product. Customers sometimes buy things
spontaneously without thinking through what their actual need is. But often
there is an underlying reason for a purchase even if the buyer doesn’t bring it to
Throughout the meeting, your job is to tease out as many discrete pain points
that are near enough to your solution set to begin talking about what it is that
you do. Write down the customer pains so you’ll have them for later. Ask
questions the whole time. The best form of sales is “active listening” where you’
re engaged in what the customer is telling you.
This post is about the “U” or Unique Selling Proposition, which in industry terms
is often called a USP. It’s the second rule of sales: “Why buy me?”.
I often work with teams to get them to codify the key things they do well that the
competition does not. Teams usually start with terminology that is very insular
and less relevant to customers. That’s OK for the first pass but you need to
then move on to defining your USPs in simpler terminology that can be
understood (and importantly remembered!) by your customers.
After a short demo it is worth pointing out some of important things your
prospect is going to want to consider when making a purchasing decision in this
product area. This is when your key USPs need to come out strongest.
Unique Selling Proposition
The number one reason sales stall when customers see the value in what you
do is because they often don’t have a reason to buy NOW. That is where a
“compelling event” comes into play. If you’ve done a good job in the sales
process you’ve already written out a needs document in which your wrote out
what you believe the customer problems are with specific examples.
The next logical piece of work is to help your prospect quantify the problem so
they can attribute economic value to your solution and help you complete your
sale. [...] If you’ve documented their pain in economic terms, if your product
uniquely solves this pain and if you build a compelling business case as to why
implementing your product will make money, lower costs or reduce risks – you’
re well on your way toward a new customer.
No product sells itself no matter what startup companies like to think. In order
for an organization to buy product it takes an individual who has a budget and
is willing to spend it on you or they have access to a group budget and are
willing to fight for the resources to implement your solution. This is especially
true for products that involve more than an individual user.
In order for somebody to be a champion, they need to have both influence (in
order to persuade others to take action) and “authority” to either make the
decision or to get somebody who holds budget to make the decision.
I shorthand these two things – Influence and Authority – as IA. [...] In order for
somebody with IA to be your champion, he has to be actively helping you
through the sales process.
Mostly you need Champions who are “egg breakers.” But many people get
secure in their sales process with just meeting / talking to the people who are
the nicest to you. This is one of the most common mistakes untrained people
make in a sales process because the nice guy you’re talking to tells you not to
worry about the others, that he has you covered.
This is a mistake because if you don’t meet a wide variety of people who may
have a role in the decision you could be totally blind-sided by a parallel process
happening in the buying organization of which you aren’t aware.
So there you have it – the key players involved in a sales process. It’s your job
to track who these people are and make sure you know how each will be
involved in your decision.
What does it mean for the purchasing process to be aligned?Well think of it this
way – you have your sales process. You know exactly when you want to sell to
this customer and presumably it’s this quarter! But the buying company many
not be able to buy in your time frame. [...] How do you know whether or not your
prospect is ready to buy this quarter?
The simplest rule in sales is... ask! I know it sounds trite, but believe me when I
tell you most people are afraid to ask direct questions like, “who holds the
budget to invest in a solution like ours?” or “what is your financial approval
authority?” [...] When asking, you will quickly learn if this project is likely to slate
for this quarter or in the future.
Aligned Purchasing Process
After a startup achieves product/market fit one of the most important next steps
is to develop a sales and marketing machine. The sales team should be
working towards a reproducible, and profitable, sales process.
As part of that iteration, a sales playbook should be at the top of the sales
manager or entrepreneurs list of items. A sales playbook is the how-to manual
for a sales rep. The goal is to document and categorize as much sales related
information as possible in a digestible format.
Develop a sales Playbook
Jason M. Lemkin:
The time is probably going to come when you have to build a sales team in
SaaS. It may be Day 1 if you have plenty of capital and are selling to large
enterprises. It may be X months down the road, once you close a few deals of
large enough size ($x,000 ACV) to justify hiring a sales rep. It might be 5 years
down the road, like Dropbox and Evernote, when you decide to add a
corporate/enterprise edition to your freemium app.
Most likely, you won’t have the resources to hire a whole sales team upfront.
You’ll want to start with one experienced rep. And there’s only one problem with
that: no matter how well that rep does, you won’t learn anything. You need at
least 2 to learn.
Hire 2 sales reps
When interviewing sales reps, one of the most common questions we receive
as an interviewer is “what would the first 30 days look like if I earned the job?”
While the first 30 days will vary from company to company, there’s still plenty of
The first 30 days for a new sales rep is all about shadowing existing team
members as well as training with the sales manager. Then, by the end of the
month, it’s time for live calling and prospecting. Training is a critical part of the
sales rep on-boarding process.
And get your reps’ first 30 days right
A startup story is a sales story
Making sure you get sales right is the best way to give your company
the freedom to achieve its objectives. In order to this, implementing a
well-defined methodology, along with proper tooling, is key. Your CRM
and your internal sales knowledge management systems should be the
embodiment of your methodology.
Be careful not to see you methodology as an end point: it should
always be a living and adaptative process that you use to streamline
communication between all the people involved with sales. The results
should quickly be worth your efforts setting things up!
Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures)
Jason M. Lemkin (Storm Ventures)
Dries Buytert (Acquia)
Mark Cranney (a16z)
David Cummings (Pardot)
Looking for help?
I am available for short consulting missions:
strategy advice, questions about the enterprise
sales cycle, positioning review…
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