10 Startup Sales Tips from Dreamforce 2015

Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross gave one of the best presentations today at Dreamforce in their talk titled Tales from the Front Lines: Building a Killer Sales Team. Jason is the author of SaaStr and Aaron is the author of Predictable Revenue — both incredible resources for entrepreneurs that care about sales (which should be most!).

Here are the 10 startup sales tips from their 10 slides:

  1. A/B Test is Key. Hire 2-3 AEs & SDRs. Not 1.
    – A/B Test Helps You Learn
    – Any Sales Rep That Performs is Cheap
    – 1 Rep Performing = Repeatable
    – 2+ Reps Performing = Repeating
  2. VPs Hire: Not Too Early – And Not Too Late
    – You have to sell it yourself first. And then hire 2+ reps. But once you have two that perform, get your VP!
  3. Don’t Hire Early Reps You Wouldn’t Buy From
    – Later, you’ll need many types of reps.
    – In the early days leads are so precious.
    – You’ll never be comfortable handing them off to someone you don’t trust.
  4. Make Sure You See the Customer Segmentation Pattern Early Enough
    – The Pattern is Set Early – $500k ARR
    – One it’s repeating, be confident.
    – You’ll have an “organic” type of core customer.
    – So from $1m – $10m ARR, just double down on what seems to be working.
    – Deal sizes will go up but pattern will stay the same.
  5. If You Can, Go Upmarket Faster
    – If you can get one enterprise customer, you can get 10
    – If you have one customer in an industry, you can get 10
    – The outliers aren’t anomalies. They are the future.
  6. Invest in Getting to a Mini-Brand
    – Brands are highly defensible, a proxy for whom to trust, and huge air cover.
  7. Never Allow Revenue Per Lead to Drop
    – PR. Marketing. Upgrade the team. More customer success.
    – Competition doesn’t really matter for revenue per lead.
    – Deal sizes should go up.
    – You should only get better at closing.
  8. How My 2nd VP of Sales Double Sales in 90 Days
    – Immediately upgraded the team to proven closers. The first week.
    – Got the most out of the team he inherited and got rid of the ones that weren’t working.
    – Didn’t attempt to do it alone.
    – End pipeline as a metric and any credit for it.
    – Embraced competition.
  9. It Gets So Much Better at Initial Scale
    – No matter how bad you are at X or inexperienced at Y you will learn in SaaS.
    – Great will get ever better.
    – You will get even better. Guaranteed.
    – You will become a great SaaS CEO.
  10. Not Doubling the Plan
    – Once the team was great, we exceed the plan. Every quarter, every year. Always.
    – I should have challenged us to do even better than 120% of plan.

Want to learn more? Pre-order Jason and Aaron’s new book From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue.

4 thoughts on “10 Startup Sales Tips from Dreamforce 2015

  1. Love this – Especially agree with #3. No cheeseballs allowed! Does not matter how great their network and how awesome their resume, need early salespeople you like, trust and most importantly would buy from.

  2. Fantastic port! Actually just finished reading ‘Predictable Revenue’ by Aaron Ross. #2 is crucial to success in the beginning stages, you have to sell if first and then hire salespeople.

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