In a masterful content marketing play (or ploy), a CEO posted a story on LinkedIn saying he would never hire a salesperson again and would basically do away with his sales team. This ignited a firestorm in the world of B2B sales with tweets, articles, counter-articles and all the usual hallmarks of a tempest in a teapot.
Let me grossly simplify the argument. Buyers are now extremely educated with all the reviews, comments, endorsements and brochureware available about every possible product. This is supposedly reducing the value of salespeople — pushing product just does not work. You need to let the customer come to you and then delight them in not leaving. So, instead of salespeople you need customer success staff.
For me the argument for having a B2B sales team to sell a SaaS product was definitely resolved by Mark Cranney’s on the Andreessen Horowitz blog. Your freemium strategy may get in the door at a client but once you landed, you need to expand. And that can only be done by salespeople who can translate what your product does into an articulation of the value that your product creates for your client.
The argument therefore should not be about whether you need salespeople or not but what type of sales force do you need and what are its objectives. And that is determined by the nature of the product you are selling and the competitive landscape. But I am convinced that at some point in the sales funnel, a conversation with a client will be required. It could be at the beginning of sales process — we are seeing lots of a traction in the model of companies like Insidesales.com which are combining predictive analytics with a methodological pursuit of sales prospects by inside sales teams. Or it could be later stages where a free product tier has identified motivated users who can be targeted for an up-sale.
At some point, you will need to ask someone for their attention and their trust and to help you navigate a selling process that will involve a decision by committee. That’s where leveraging relationships will be important and where Reachable will help you reach the people you must get to in order to open the doors to the kingdom.
-Laurent Ohana, CEO