Many things go into making a successful SaaS business. But one of the most important — and often overlooked — is sales.
Sales is the engine that keeps SaaS businesses growing. It's what brings in new customers, turns them into returning revenue, and allows for the company to scale.
That said, early-stage SaaS companies aren't typically known for having well-oiled sales machines. That's where a SaaS consultant can step in to help.
Whether you're looking to hire your first sales consultant or just want to make sure your team is up to par, this guide will help you identify the traits of a successful SaaS sales consultant.
Let's start with the basics.
What Is a Sales Consultant?
SaaS sales consultants help companies improve their ability to sell, usually by increasing the number of qualified leads that convert into customers.
Depending on the client's needs, a SaaS consultant can help with everything from improving lead generation and closing more deals to onboarding and coaching.
Many startup owners don't have the infrastructure to build an in-house sales team, but don't want to go through a third party either.
This is where consultants come in.
They work on a client's team as a third-party but still have the flexibility to work across departments.
In short, companies get the specialized expertise of an industry veteran without having to commit to hiring that person full-time.
Why Should You Hire a SaaS Sales Consultant?
If you're used to the high-octane world of tech, working with a SaaS consultant might be a nice change of pace.
You'll feel the difference in your workday almost immediately:
- More time for strategy and less time on the logistics: A consultant can help with tasks like getting in front of the right people, qualifying leads, and closing deals.
- Less time on administrative processes: Hiring a consultant eliminates the need to go through in-depth hiring processes, train new employees, and settle for mediocre staff just because you're short on time.
- Scalability: As your company grows, you will need to hire more people to accommodate for that growth. Consultants are effective right out of the gate and can scale up or down with your company's needs.
- An outside perspective: A consultant is there to improve the processes that are holding you back, not just to crunch numbers and run reports.
In other words, SaaS consultants give you more time to do what you're best at: Building a great product.
What Traits Should a SaaS Consultant Have?
We all know that it takes more than just a pretty face to be successful in sales. So, what are the traits that make a consultant great?
Let's explore some of the most crucial:
1. They Are Resourceful
For many companies, an influx of cash is not the silver bullet that will suddenly turn them into a billion-dollar company.
It takes smart resource management and a certain amount of ingenuity to get the most out of your current situation — even when that means scraping together spare parts to make something better.
Customers are smart, and they know when you're not giving them the full story. If your consultant is unable to rise to this challenge, you'll have a hard time convincing them that your product can help their business.
2. They Understand Current Sales Processes
Sales isn't just about getting your foot in the door anymore. It's a multi-step process that requires extensive knowledge of different sale models.
A SaaS consultant should understand what each buyer requires, at what point in the sale they need it, and how to deliver it.
The modern lead generation process is more complex than ever before, so your consultant should be able to stay on top of changing technologies and trends.
For example, many companies now buy based on user experience. This means that simple things like providing cleaner, more efficient onboarding, and having a dedicated customer success team can be the difference between closing a deal and losing it.
An effective sales consultant must understand the relationship between each part of your business so they can better deliver value to potential customers.
3. They Are Results-Driven
Customer success isn't the only thing that can be measured in numbers.
The easiest way to know if your consultant is doing their job well is to look at the results: increased conversions, reduced churn rates, and higher renewal rates.
All of these lead to a bottom line that is far more substantial than any one person's salary.
4. They Are Sharp Negotiators
Believe it or not, sales training can actually make you dumber. When you're given a set of rules and processes to follow, you're less likely to think on your own.
A good consultant is comfortable with working outside the box. They know what to say and how to act when you're at an impasse or beyond their normal purview.
They are also extremely perceptive— they can tell when customers are trying to pull one over on them, and are always looking for the edge that can make the difference between a win and a loss.
5. They Are Driven by Results, Not Money
A good consultant only cares about keeping the client happy.
They understand that a client who isn't satisfied will not renew, so they strive to do their best for them.
If they need help, they'll come to you. If you need them to do something specific, they'll get it done. They have a genuine desire to see your business succeed, and will go above and beyond to get you what you need.
6. They Can Deliver Value and Build Trust
The first step to getting a customer on board is making sure they see the value in your product. But how do you prove it?
A good consultant will do their research. They'll know which metrics are important to each potential client so they can hit the ground running when they meet with them.
They'll also understand not just what your product can do, but how it will make a difference for your customers.
Building trust is the hard part. Customers are wary of too much hype and will be likely to shoot down anything that's not backed up with proven results.
A good SaaS consultant will be able to bring your product to life and make it appear as an obvious solution.
7. They Understand How to Think Like a Customer
Clients are always asking themselves one question, “How will this make my life easier?”
A good consultant knows exactly how to answer that.
They are the expert, so they will always put themselves in your customer's shoes. This means that they will strive to make the buyer's journey as streamlined and efficient as possible, and they won't make any promises that aren't backed up by facts.
Once they have a grasp of what clients want, they'll communicate it back to you so that everyone is on the same page.
8. They Are Great Communicators
Every consultant needs to have a firm grasp of the language, but be wary of anyone who is trying to overcomplicate the basics.
A good consultant will always try to write and speak in clear, concise language so that even an untrained client can understand them.
They'll also know how to ask the right questions. The best consultants are good listeners who can distill information into an easily digestible format.
For example, rather than just listing out process steps, they can break everything down into small chunks that don't overwhelm the client.
They'll also be able to get both you and your client on the same page. This means explaining any new terminology in terms they'll understand, and making sure everyone knows what's going to happen next.
9. They Don't Take Anything Personally
During the sales process, it's all too easy to become defensive. It's even more common for a client to shoot down ideas without actually taking the time to understand them.
A good consultant knows how to take all feedback in stride. They'll never get offended, even when they're being criticized.
They know that everything they do is for the client, and won't let anything get in the way of providing them with what they need.
For example, a client might come to them with a laundry list of complaints about the product. A good consultant will listen carefully and try to understand why they feel that way.
They won't ignore the client's concerns, but they will approach them objectively and figure out what kinds of changes need to be made. This will go a long way towards building the client's trust and getting them on board.
The Bottom Line?
Now that you know what to look for in a good consultant, it's time to find your own.
Everyone is unique, so don't just hire the first person you meet. Instead, take the time to find someone who really understands your business and what you're trying to achieve.
Remember that a good consultant will always have the client's best interests at heart. They'll always try to build a rapport with them, and strive for a win-win situation.
They'll also have a firm grip on how to turn your product into a solution that will truly help solve their problems.
At the end of the day, a good SaaS consultant isn't just a salesperson. They're an advocate for your product and the people that use it.