How To Get into SaaS Sales [2022 Career Guide]
In this article
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model of delivering software has become wildly popular in the last decade. It was the largest market segment in the public cloud services sector in 2021, forecasted to reach a value of $117.7 billion last year. A whopping 99% of businesses now use at least one SaaS solution.
If you’re someone who works in sales, those numbers should make your eyes light up. Businesses are already seeking out SaaS solutions for more and more of their operational functions. And more and more companies are popping up to serve that need. So let’s find out how you can hop on that lucrative bandwagon and get into SaaS sales.
Related Read: What is Tech Sales?
What Is SaaS?
A good way to understand the SaaS model is by looking at the way companies bought software before it came around.
Back in the day, companies would buy software licenses for a one-time price, which allowed them to use it on a certain number of computers. The software would usually be hosted on a server that was on the company’s premises. Computers within the organization would be given access to the server so they could use the software.
And then SaaS showed up and turned that model on its head. Instead of hosting software on individual servers, SaaS companies let you use software that was hosted in the cloud. That meant companies didn’t need to set up their own server infrastructures anymore.
The way software was priced also changed with SaaS. Companies didn’t pay a one-time fee anymore. Instead, they purchased subscriptions to the software, giving them access to the cloud-hosted software tool for the duration of the subscription.
The cloud-based approach of SaaS turned out to be a boon for companies. It was easy to scale up the use of software now; all you needed to do was purchase a subscription that gave access to a higher-bandwidth or more feature-rich version of the product. This made companies more agile and less prone to failures resulting from their software tools giving out.
It was also a better model for companies that made software. Earlier, they would ship updates only with new versions of software, which usually came out once a year. But with SaaS, they can now ship small updates often, since the software is hosted on the cloud.
For all those reasons, SaaS became popular across industries. It is now common for CRMs, billing software, warehouse management tools, and healthcare software to all be delivered as SaaS tools.
Understanding the SaaS Sales Process
Repeatable processes are key to the success of any sales operation. Let’s take a look at the standard sales processes for a SaaS product.
There are many different ways you can go about prospecting SaaS customers. It helps that they tend to be digital savvy, which means that blog posts, white papers, and social media can work well with this audience.
You can meet customers in person at events and conferences. But most of your prospecting will either be inbound or occur remotely via phone and email.
Qualifying is the process of determining which of your leads is most likely to convert into a customer. You don’t want to try to push the rest of them further down the sales funnel only to find out that they aren’t interested in what you’re selling.
A direct way of qualifying leads is by calling them up or emailing them after they sign up for a trial or a marketing engagement like a webinar. You could also use a lead scoring tool like the one that HubSpot offers to find out which of your leads is most likely to make a purchase.
While face-to-face sales presentations are common in other industries, that’s not the case with SaaS. You have to be able to get on a phone call with customers to understand their pain points and make a case for how your product solves them. Being able to detect customers’ emotions and interests from their tone is a key part of the SaaS sales toolkit.
After presenting, you will run into objections from customers at certain times. A good SaaS sales representative can figure out the gaps in a customer’s understanding of a product and refer to the exact feature that serves the need that they have.
For further reading, learn more about technical sales representatives here.
The final contract terms, negotiations, and paperwork are dealt with at this stage. The most common bottleneck in this process is negotiating the price. As much as possible, you should entertain only customers who see the value in what you’re offering. You can offer free months when customers pay annually since that’s a win-win for both parties.
How To Get Into SaaS Selling
It helps a lot to have a tech background when you’re trying to get into SaaS sales. A degree in a technology field can really help your cause during the interview process. Any experience that you might have working in tech companies also contributes to the cause.
That said, there are companies out there that are willing to take a bet on people who don’t have a background in tech. But you need to be able to show that you’re familiar with their SaaS product or products in that industry in general.
Communication and Rapport Building
This one remains the same no matter what you’re selling. Whether you use inbound or outbound techniques, you have to be good at talking to people, getting the information that you want from them, and getting ideas across in a way that’s easy to understand. And once you do manage to make a sale, it’s important to know how to nurture the relationship with a customer and maintain it for a long time.
SaaS customers are well-informed, often technically savvy professionals. They know what they’re looking for and know exactly what different products offer. SaaS sales reps need to have technical knowledge not just so they can accurately communicate a product’s benefits, but also to earn the respect of their customers.
Your interpersonal skills aren’t meant only for your prospects and customers. You should also put them to use in the service of building your network in general. Every successful SaaS salesperson should be connected with other salespeople, marketers, and SaaS entrepreneurs as a way to keep up with the industry and identify new ways to acquire customers.
How Much Can You Earn Selling SaaS?
According to ZipRecruiter, the current national average salary for a SaaS sales representative is $78,900.The 75th percentile of SaaS salespeople makes $95,500. These figures are significantly higher than the overall average salary for professionals in the United States.
SaaS can be a lucrative industry to work in because total salaries are usually a combination of base pay and commissions. Commissions are usually around the 8-12% mark and uncapped at most companies.
How To Succeed With SaaS Selling
Find a Mentor
Navigating the world of SaaS sales as a complete newcomer can be challenging. A mentor can help you understand the industry quickly and give you tailored guidance for the specific challenges that you face.
You can look to senior SaaS salespeople for mentorship. Reach out to someone either in your organization or in a different one and let them know exactly what kind of guidance you’re looking for and what you’ve learned about them that leads you to believe that they’d make a good mentor. A lot of experienced sales professionals are more than happy to help newcomers if the ask isn’t too onerous.
Focus on Your Technical Foundation
You need to have a good understanding of technology and your specific SaaS product to be successful in sales. That’s because one day you might find yourself talking to a savvy customer who wants the nitty-gritty of specific features of your product and the next you might run into someone who doesn’t understand what the cloud is. You have to have the broad knowledge base required to serve both those customers well.
Specialize in an Industry or Product Type
There are now SaaS products for everything from healthcare billing to video editing to personal finance. No SaaS salesman can be a generalist and be successful in all those industries. So pick one niche that you’re interested in, study the industry, and gain experience selling products there.
Is SaaS Sales for You?
With all the information that we’ve covered, you might be wondering if you can make it in SaaS sales. Here are a few questions to help you make that decision.
Do You Have Sales Experience?
Only salespeople really know what sales jobs entail. You can read up about the profession all you want, but nothing quite compares to experience in the field. And if you do have sales experience, then making the transition to SaaS sales is a lot easier.
Do You Have a Technical Background?
We’ve established that you need to be technology savvy to work in SaaS sales. The best way to show recruiters that you’ve got that is either with a degree in a technical field or experience working in a technology company. Both of those will make it a lot easier to land a job in SaaS sales.
Do You Understand and Believe in the Product You’re Selling?
Products are sold in part on what they do and in part on the conviction of the person selling them. If you are to land a whole lot of customers, you need to be convinced that your product addresses their needs and solves their problems. So be sure to choose a company that creates quality SaaS products and be prepared to do a technical deep-dive before starting the sales process.
SaaS Sales FAQs
Is Selling SaaS a Good Career?
Yes, selling SaaS can be a profitable, rewarding career. The industry is well-established and one where sales representatives have the opportunity to make high commissions.
Can You Get Into SaaS Sales With No Experience?
Some companies welcome sales representatives who don’t have experience in the field. But you have to be able to show that you have the passion and knowledge that it takes to do well. Any internships or certifications you’ve completed will make an impact on recruiters. Also tailor your CV to show that you have skills in communication, technical areas, and prospecting.
Do You Need a Degree To Sell SaaS?
A degree in a technical field can be helpful when trying to land a SaaS job. That said, you don’t need a degree to land a job in the field. Many entry-level SaaS sales roles require candidates to have only a high school diploma.
Since you’re here…
Want a tech salary without learning to code? Our Tech Sales Bootcamp will get you ready to land a job in six months—no coding skills necessary. Browse our 2022 tech sales career guide and check out our student reviews. A massive career switch is totally in-reach for you.