Steli Efti — "How to Build a Solo SaaS Sales Machine"

(This article is part of the MicroConf 2015 Recap. Want to explore more talks from the event? Go back to the Recap Hub)

Main Concept

Sales at the end of the day is being the most decisive person in the room.

Four Key Points

  • Rule: The person with the highest level of clarity always wins.
  • Anyone and everyone you know is part of your sales team
  • Your product demo is a demo of value, not a training call or a demo of features.
  • Your job is to manage your relationship and follow up until something happens. Send thirty fucking follow-up emails.

[mc_tweet]”How to Build a Solo SaaS Sales Machine” (@steli)[/mc_tweet]

Talk Recap

Background

  • Entrepreneur his whole life, no credentials, no college education. Greece, born and raised in Germany. All self-funded.
  • 8 years ago, moved to Silicon Valley to start his first tech company.
  • 3 years ago — Started Elastic Sales (sales on demand). Worked with ~200 venture backed startups in Silicon Valley.
  • Lots of exposure to what works, what doesn’t work, built an internal tool (close.io) to avoid the pain of using Salesforce.
  • Lots of people internally / externally wanted them to launch a SaaS in parallel
    • Rule: The person with the highest level of clarity always wins.

Launching Close.io

  • Profitable from the get go
  • Great for inside sales for B2B companeis

Launching Baby Boys

  • First launched 2 years ago
  • Youngest launched 1 year ago
  • Wife was technical founder

Sales People

  • The role model for sales people? Patrick McKenzie. Sales Hustler.
    • He understands some basic principles when it comes to sales
    • Sell based on value — don’t fizzle around based on features / benefits / cost. “Can I help you fix something? What’s the value that represents in your life?”
    • Truly qualify people — ask questions until you arrive at the minimum level of interpretation that is possible.
    • If you know how to ask questions to truly arrive at the end that the prospect needs to achieve, then all you need to do is say “Yes, I can help you”
    • You can be an amazing sales-person by asking questions, qualifying people correctly, and then telling them if you can help them.
  • The importance of following up
    • You can be dangerous in sales without fitting the mold of what you think sales means

Content Sells

And it compounds as well…

  • Content is your invisible sales person in the cloud
  • By focusing on educational content, it increases the trust that customers feel, increasing your conversions
  • Likewise, content that slowly grows over time is a great, evergreen sales person

Sales Emails

  1. Three step process
    1. Open — What do I write to get them to open that email?
      • Hacks: sometimes you get better open rates when you have a typo in the subject line. Maximize humanity.
      • Most effective subject line he ever received: “Really Disappointed”
      • Deliver what you promised. Start relationship in the subject line, then deliver in the content.
    2. Read — Every sentence is a pitch for why the reader should give a fuck and read another sentence
      • If your email is two sentences, it’s hard to not get them to read. When something is short, people will read it.
      • Don’t bury the lead. Start with it.
      • Ask: “Why should I waste another second of life with another line in this email?”
      • One clear call to action.
    3. Respond — All you do is want to get the person to respond.
      • Respond. Get on phone.

Trial Sales Emails

  • Send 5-7 emails minimum
  • Semi-personal: yourname@domain.com, sent via iphone. Do things to make it more human.
  • Drip / Lifeclcle Tools: Customer.io, GetDrip.com
  • Events Driven: Signup, Activity, Trial End
  • Call to action-oriented: Schedule a call, reply to this, etc.

[mc_tweet]”This is not a popularity contest, this is about creating value.” (@steli)[/mc_tweet]

Cold Email 2.0 (Outreach)

  • 1-2 levels above the decision-maker
  • Send a very brief email
  • Ask for referral down in the org
  • 10-30% success rate

Follow Up Relentlessly

Until you get a result (yes/no)

  • I never stop following up until I get a response
  • Don’t make up a story about why you don’t hear back. Your job is to keep following up.
  • That’s where everyone else drops the ball.
  • The race starts very crowded. Then, everyone drops off. You’re alone on the playing field and you will win.

[mc_tweet]”My job is to manage this relationship and follow up until something happens.” (@steli)[/mc_tweet]

  • There’s only one thing that keeps sales: the “Maybe”, the “I Don’t Know” what’s going on with this deal.
    • When there’s nothing, bad things happen.
  • Follow Up At Scale

The Break Up Email

  • Send a break-up email.
  • “I’m assuming you don’t want to work together. I’m taking you off my list. Here’s my contact info. Reach out if you want to get in touch.
  • If you take something away, they’ll want it more.

Demo Quickly — 15 minutes or less

  • Your product demo is a demo of value, not a training call or a demo of features.
    • Qualify them. Understand the need. Demonstrate how the product solves that expensive problem.
    • Then, give them a few minutes for questions.
  • Qualify first — Can / Should they buy
  • Benefits vs Features: Focus on what’s relevant
  • Sales vs Training: Demo value vs teaching functionality

Free Sales Team

Customers, Friends, Partners… your mom

  • Anyone and everyone you know is part of your sales team
  • Your customers are your extended sales family.
  • Every person that buys from you is your lead generation team. Ask for referrals.
    • “Alright, now that we’ve got this amazing amount of value, who else do you know who would benefit from this”
    • Old way: You don’t want to be an asshole
    • New way: “I want you to think about it any day every day for the rest of your life. Give me one name that you really like.”
  • Once you have a customer come to you, ask them who to thank for the referral. Then, ask them to send them a referral and send one likewise.
  • If you have a customer you love, get more of those kinds of customers.
  • When you’re trying to close really big deals, use your large customer and have them to come in to help them close a big deal.

Don’t Fuckaround.io

[mc_tweet]”It’s called close.io, not fuckaround.io” (@steli)[/mc_tweet]

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[mc_tweet]”How to Build a Solo SaaS Sales Machine” (@steli)[/mc_tweet]

(This article is part of the MicroConf 2015 Recap. Want to explore more talks from the event? Go back to the Recap Hub)