The missing piece of software sales

Rav Dhaliwal

Sales orthodoxy

Almost every aspect of building and running a Software business has been studied, measured, and systematised over the years, none more so than building and running a commercial organisation.

The orthodox sales production line = job of sales complete at contract signature

The contemporary challenge

Whereas in the past it was commonplace for software entrepreneurs to have come up through the ranks of sales and marketing, today we are just as likely to find founders with a product, technical or engineering background.

The innovation?

One major difference between our two software companies is that our contemporary SaaS start-up would almost certainly have an additional function that did not exist 25 years ago — Customer Success.

Orthodox sales + customer success = job of sales still considered complete at contract signature

The missing piece

In a subscription business, contract signature no longer represents the conclusion of the sale — it is merely the beginning of an ongoing cycle of selling.

Continuous sales = there’s no such thing as post sales

Continuous sales checklist

Contemporary founders wishing to avoid the shortcomings of the sales orthodoxy and assess whether their start-up is set up for healthy, sustainable new revenue from continuous sales should ask themselves the following –

  • If you have mirrored the commercial and product owners (with either the original Account Executive or an Account Manager working with a Customer Success Manager), are they both suitably incentivised to make driving new revenue from existing customers worth their while? If not, then you will very likely end up reinforcing the orthodox mindset that the job of sales is complete at first contract signature.
  • If you have successfully mirrored both owner roles and incentivised them correctly, are they aligned on a common book of business? If not, your continuous sales motion will lack efficiency because of misaligned prioritisation and resourcing on new revenue growth opportunities which in turn will hinder your ability to scale.
  • In deal reviews are you mandating before a deal can be “closed /won” that there is a plan in place to set customers up for long term product success and future new revenue? If not, you will likely find the necessary discovery, engagement and mindset required for continuous sales will not be taking place.

Investor & Venture Partner @crane_vc . Alumni @slackhq @zendesk @yammer @salesforce and others.