Are you looking to get into SaaS sales without any experience?
Perhaps you like the sound of SaaS sales but are worried you don’t have the right degree?
If you’re looking to get into a sales role within a tech company, then this guide is for you. From making your CV as “SaaS-friendly” as possible to choosing skills and experience that will highlight sales strengths, let’s look at how you can make it happen.
What is SaaS sales?
What are you expecting from a SaaS sales role? It can be different than more generic sales roles in other companies. For a start, you’re selling software. This means you’ll often be relying on product demos and online tutorials to sell in your product. It also means you could be selling internationally, because when there’s no physicality, there are no boundaries.
There are a few different SaaS sales models to think about (Chaotic Flow have written a great guide here), but for TL;DR purposes here’s the quick version:
- Enterprise sales
This is the model most similar to your traditional sales process: selling in high quantities, or a bespoke production of a type of software to large corporate companies.
- Transactional sales
This is where you might demo or sell a product to a customer over the phone. The lead has already been captured and the potential customer has shown an interest, and your job is to help get them across the line.
- Self-service sales
This is the least beneficial SaaS sales model for Sales reps as it doesn’t really require any human contact! This is where the SaaS sales cycle is set up to convert the customer without any sales support required.
Pros and cons of SaaS sales
Before you commit to a career in SaaS sales, let’s look at the role from all angles.
Pros of SaaS sales
- Earning potential: Although your base salary might not be ideal, there’s usually huge potential to earn well with your commission. So if you know you’re good at selling, or you think your personality means you will be, then you could earn well by working in SaaS sales.
- Progression potential: If you do well in your SaaS sales role, it’s highly likely that you’re going to progress. And fast. Sales are essential to a software company’s success, so if you’re making them, you’re probably going to bag yourself a promotion or two in the process.
- Sales culture: The area of sales is competitive in nature. So if you’re a competitive person seeking fast growth and development, you’ll thrive in the fast-paced nature of a SaaS company.
Cons of SaaS sales
- High expectations: There are a lot! SaaS companies rely heavily on software sales to cover overhead expenses and if you can’t close, you won’t be in a job for very long.
- Startup culture: Working within a startup often means long hours, late nights and early mornings, particularly in sales where you may have international clients who require calls or demos across different time zones.
- Risk: Working within any startup, there’s always a risk of failure for the company (leading to redundancy or even the company folding), so you have to be prepared to take that risk.
Do you need experience?
It is possible to work in SaaS sales without having any software experience or a formal sales education. Let’s look at the different scenarios and some of the tips and advice you can use to gain your perfect sales role without a full CV.
No sales experience or SaaS experience at all
You are: brand new to sales. Either out of school or university, or making a career change from another role.
Top tips: Think about the experience you do have. Working in a team? Entrepreneurial spirit? This is where you should comb carefully through any past work experience, side products, ventures, charity initiatives or hobbies to look for skills which may be transferable. Startups aren’t always looking for the best sales person, but they are looking for someone with spark, someone they themselves would want to buy from.
Sales experience but not in SaaS
You are: a sales professional but one who hasn’t worked in software sales before.
Top tips: Do your homework before applying, as software sales can seem glamorous but is extremely hard work. Founders will want to ensure you’re not swapping to software sales on a whim or to make a quick buck. Show you know what SaaS sales entails and are prepared to put the work in. Find a side project or example case study that’s similar to the SaaS sales model and explain why you enjoyed it.
SaaS or startup experience but not in sales
You are: someone who has worked in SaaS companies or startups before but not necessarily within a sales role.
Top tips: As long as you can prove why you want to work in sales, this shouldn’t be too difficult a transition. Use clear career examples where you have aided the sales process or worked alongside a sales team to show knowledge of the SaaS sales model. Also think of a few concrete reasons why you are pivoting from a previous role into sales – to make more money probably won’t bode well within a startup SaaS culture!
SaaS or startup experience but no formal sales education
You are: someone who has worked since school, or who has a degree but within a different subject that has no relation to sales.
Top tips: Most SaaS companies will take a punt on someone who has no formal education, as long as you have examples of how you’ve made up for it or what you’ve done instead. Truth is, there’s no actual degree in “Sales”, so while a background in Economics, Marketing or Product Management could help, it’s certainly no silver bullet to success.
How to find your dream SaaS sales role
Once you’ve decided SaaS sales is for you, where do you go to find that perfect role? Start out by checking the www.justdigitallondon.co.uk. If you are early in your career and looking for that break then you’ll want to search for SDR roles as these are typically suited to candidates earlier in their careers.
The team at Just Digital work directly with founders and hiring managers with live roles available.
You can also use a Twitter search to find new startups or founders who you can reach out to directly. In the early stages, they may be more inclined to teach you the ropes, whereas at a later stage they’ll be after someone with more experience. Use a search such as “startup coming soon” and navigate to “Accounts” to find who’s just starting out. Find the founders and try to speak to them directly, as usually the first sales person within a SaaS role is there to take over selling the product from the founder or CEO.
Once you’ve found that perfect SaaS sales role, here’s how to ensure you’re the one who gets the job.
If you don’t have experience, use your CV and the interview process to make an impression. You want to surprise and delight the interviewer, whether that’s through your views, your alignment with the company mission statement, your experience or your background. Leave them with something to remember you by – they could be interviewing hundreds of candidates.
Prepare well for interview
Don’t just scan the company website. The internet is a wonderful place to dig deep and in SaaS, they want to know you’ve done your homework. Check out press releases, online roadmaps, blog posts and customer reviews. This will give you the chance to ask thoughtful and insightful questions about not just the role, but where the company is going and any customer friction points. Also look up the company on startup-friendly sites such as AngeList and Crunchbase to get a 360-view.
Some of the most successful SaaS salespeople and founders didn’t come from a traditional sales role background. Don’t be afraid to dream big and show your aspirations.
Ready to find your dream SaaS sales job? Head to our jobs page today!