2nd Base - Reach Product Market Fit

Getting the most out of your B2B SaaS Sales Team

Learn best practices for managing a B2B SaaS sales team. Tips on getting the most out of meetings, including which questions to ask your team to track progress.


Since many CMOs these days also have sales leadership responsibilities and must work together with a Sales Leader, I’d like to share a couple of best practices that I’ve used when managing a sales organization for a B2B SaaS Company.

Managing Sales Meetings

Whether you meet with your sales team every week, twice a week, or every other week, it helps to have them answer four simple questions the night before they attend. This will drive some CRM discipline and will help the meeting be focused and time efficient. Before the meeting, email them and ask:

  1. What genuine progress has been made since the last meeting? - This question helps prevent repetition of a lot of the same information every meeting. Drive focus in your meeting by only talking about things that have really changed, that show progress on the most opportunities. If not enough progress is being shown with a particular opportunity, it may be time to move it to a nurture status.
  2. What new leads have entered the pipeline since the last meeting? - This question helps make sure everyone is aligned. If you have people in your sales meeting who support your sales executives—for instance, someone in presales like a sales engineer—it’s helpful for them to be aware of any new leads that the sales rep is managing. This is also about connecting sales and marketing. If marketing is effective in delivering leads, you want to make sure they’re quickly followed up on. However, if leads are slow in coming, you may want to ramp up or consider different marketing efforts.
  3. What opportunity in your pipeline is most likely to close and why? - This forces you to become extremely focused on what’s right in front of you. Determine what you need to focus your energy on to get a win. Over time your team will get better in predicting the future short-term. Accurate forecasting is critical to help your customer success team anticipate onboarding needs for training and implementation. You’ll also be able to better report to your own leadership team regarding expected revenue bookings.
  4. Finally, is there anybody who could help you with this? -  You don’t want to lose an otherwise winnable opportunity because you didn’t deploy your resources accordingly. Help your team feel comfortable asking for assistance. (Ideally, team members don’t wait until the sales meeting to bring problems to your attention.) It helps to focus on this question weekly to remind everyone that they’re not alone.

To be honest, your salespeople may balk at this and push back. Should this happen, say “If you spend 10 minutes writing your answers the night before, we’ll save five minutes per person in the meeting.” This preparation helps shorten the meeting and gives everyone more time in their day to sell.

Opportunity Qualification

To help guide meeting discussions, some companies rely on the BANT method to evaluate an opportunity. Do you have a Budget? Am I speaking with someone who has Authority to make the decision? Is the Need aligned with what we have to offer? And is there some kind of a path, a Timeline clear that they will decide.

Here are a couple more specific questions that can help you dig a bit deeper, beyond the “aging” BANT method: Is there actually an opportunity for us that fits our ideal customer profile? Can we compete? Will we stand a chance to win? Then, is it worth winning? The goal is to be thoughtful about how you qualify opportunities beyond just speaking with the right person. 

Is there an Opportunity?

Customer’s Application or Project

  •         What are the customer’s requirements?
  •         What are the customer’s key issues and objectives for the project?
  •         Who initiated the project? Who will be working on the project?
  •         How does the project fit into the customer’s business strategy?

Customer’s Business Profile

  •         What are the customer’s major products and services?
  •         What are their key markets?
  •         Who are their key customers and competitors?
  •         What is driving the customer’s business internally and externally?

Customer’s Financial Condition

  •         What are their revenue and profit trends?
  •         How do their financials compare to similar companies?
  •         What is their financial outlook?
  •         What are the customer’s key performance metrics?

Access to Funds

  •         What is the budget for this project?
  •         What is the customer’s budgeting process?
  •         What is the priority of this project compared to others?
  •         What are the customer’s alternative uses of capital?

Compelling Event

  •         Why does the customer have to act?
  •         What is the deadline for the customer to make the decision?
  •         What are the consequences if this project is delayed?
  •         What is the payback for the customer if the project is completed on time?
  •         What will be the measurable impact on the customer’s business?

Can We Compete?

Formal Decision Criteria

  •         What are the customer’s decision-making criteria?
  •         What is the formal decision-making process?
  •         Which decision criteria are most important? Why?
  •         Who formulated the decision criteria?

Solution Fit

  •         How well does our solution solve the customer’s problem?
  •         What does the customer think?
  •         What modifications or enhancements will be required?
  •         What external resources do we need to meet the customer’s requirements?

Sales Resource Requirements

  •         How much time will the sales team need to invest on this opportunity?
  •         What additional internal or external resources will you need to win this opportunity?
  •         What is the projected cost of sales?
  •         What is the opportunity cost?

Current Relationship

  •         What is the status of your relationship with the customer?
  •         What is the status of each competitor’s relationship with the customer?
  •         Whose relationship provides competitive advantage for this opportunity?
  •         How do you and each of your competitors compare to the customer’s view of the ideal relationship?

Unique Business Value

  •         What are the specific or measurable business results that we will deliver?
  •         How does the customer define value? How will they measure it?
  •         How have we qualified this value in the customer’s terms?
  •         Has the customer confirmed their understanding of the value we deliver?
  •         How does this value differentiate us from our competitors?

Can We Win?

Inside Support

  •         Who in the customer’s organization wants us to win?
  •         What have they done to indicate their support?
  •         Are they willing and able to act on your behalf?
  •         Do they have credibility within their own organization?

Executive Credibility

  •         Which executive(s) will affect or be affected by this decision?
  •         How have you established trust and credibility with them?
  •         How will you gain access to those executives?
  •         What is your plan to gain return access to them?

Cultural Compatibility

  •         What is the customer’s culture?
  •         How does this compare with our company?
  •         What is the customer’s philosophy towards vendors and suppliers?
  •         Can we adjust or adapt? Do we want to?

Informal Decision Criteria

  •         How will the decision really be made?
  •         What intangible, subjective factors could affect this decision?
  •         What are the unstated issues?
  •         Whose private opinions do we know? Which ones count?

Political Alignment

  •         Who are the most powerful people involved in this decision?
  •         Do they want us to win? Why?
  •         Are they able to influence or change the decision criteria?
  •         Can they create a sense of urgency? How have they demonstrated this in the past?

Is it Worth Winning? 

Short-Term Revenue

  •         What is the order amount?
  •         Does it exceed our threshold? >$________
  •         When will it close?
  •         Is it within our time frame? <_________ days

Future Revenue

  •         What is the potential for future business within the next year? Within the next three years?
  •         Does it exceed out thresholds?
  •         How is this project or application linked to future revenue?
  •         How will you ensure customer promises become commitments?

Profitability

  •         What is the projected profit on this sales opportunity?
  •         Does it exceed our profit threshold?
  •         What impact will discounts have on probability?
  •         How can we improve the profitability on this opportunity?

Degree of Risk

  •         How could cause our solution to fail?
  •         What are the critical dependencies in delivering value to the customer?
  •         How could the customer cause our solution to fail?
  •         What is the impact on our business if the solution fails?

Strategic Value

  •         What is the value of this opportunity to us beyond revenue?
  •         How does this opportunity fit our business plan?
  •         How can we leverage this opportunity into revenue from other companies or markets?
  •         How will this opportunity help us improve our products or services?

Cadence and calendar

A status meeting would have more of a weekly cadence, while a strategic planning gathering is more quarterly. Here’s an example of how a one-hour weekly meeting can be organized. 

Example Agenda

900-910 - Resolve Past Due Action Items

910-930 - Questions regarding updates

930-1000 - Rotating Special Topics

These allotted topic times are suggestions, but the thinking is that the second portion of each meeting would be devoted to a special topic, with these topics rotating throughout the year. The following list of special topics span a 13-week quarter and repeats four times a year. For example, a focus on funnel health (week 5). Do that once a quarter but in the same weekly slot. Maybe you ask everybody to provide a forecast every quarter. I’d do that in week number 10 because you’re still far enough out for the forecast to be meaningful and it would also be relatively precise. 

Special topics by week and frequency

  1.   Renewals Focus - Customer Success team, and Finance (AR) - Quarterly
  2.   Month 1 Forecast - Everyone provides their number - Monthly
  3.   Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns - Monthly
  4.   Month 1 Close Focus - New Business Sales Team - Monthly
  5.   Analyze Funnel Health (shape, speed, friction) - Quarterly
  6.   Month 2 Forecast - Everyone provides their number - Monthly
  7.   Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns - Monthly
  8.   Month 2 Close Focus - New Business Sales Team - Monthly
  9.   Review Funnel Stage Probabilities and Weight Factors - Include CFO - Quarterly
  10.   Quarter Forecast - Everyone provides their number - Monthly
  11.   Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns - Monthly
  12.   Quarter Close Focus - New Business Sales Team and Renewals - Monthly
  13.   Plan next quarter sales targets (OKRs) - Quarterly

This example is geared toward weekly meetings. But your meetings should be aligned with using OKRs (objectives and key results), the most popular management system in B2B SaaS companies. 

What’s good about a quarterly agenda like this is that you know what each meeting’s going to cover. You don’t have to scramble for topics every week or month. Also, by scheduling special topics every week, it forces you to only use a small amount of time to talk about status and use an email the night before to get your team to give you an update.

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