A Fresh Perspective on B2B SaaS
5 Questions with Eric Kleiman
Account Executive @ VanillaSoft
Sometimes, I feel like we’re living in a sales bubble.
We assume that all of the best practices, tips, and resources that leaders spout on their social profiles are known commodities.
🎧 “Listen back to your calls – you can learn so much from these Gong recordings.”
📽️ “Oh, everyone knows about the value of video in the sales process.”
🌐 “Online sales communities are pretty ubiquitous at this point.”
Truth is, not everyone is aware of or exposed to a lot of these ideas.
Especially if you haven’t “grown-up” in the world of B2B SaaS sales.
Tune in to see what skills, tools, and resources he found to be the most impactful.
Let’s talk about your previous sales experience. What was it like being an AE in the manufacturing industry? How is it different from what you’re experiencing today in B2B SaaS?
What are some of the biggest challenges involved in switching industries? What habits were the hardest to break/pick up? What came more naturally to you?
Shifting industries means a LOT of learning. I know sometimes people liken it to drinking from a fire hose. What have you found to be the best resources for teaching you the skills to succeed in your new role?
What are some of the skills you’ve had to master quickly in your current role? What do you think are the most crucial skills to learn as an SDR or AE in this space?
It seems like we’re living in the “personalize or get deleted” era of sales. Is that something you saw in previous roles? How have you been learning and adapting your skills to meet this new environment?
Highlights, Notes, and Resources
🏁 There are a lot of useful insights in your tech stack that, frankly, are being overlooked. These tools can do more than make you more efficient as an SDR.
Your call recording software isn’t just for managers to listen in on your conversations – use it to play back your calls for the day and dissect where you can improve and what went well.
Your SEP is more than just an automation tool – there is a treasure trove of data in there that you can leverage to work smarter. Look at the best times to connect with your prospects, engagement patterns around new messaging techniques, and what channels work best for specific personas.
🏁 Successful SDRs all exhibit similar qualities. They have a growth mindset, they’re coachable, and they’re not afraid to ask questions. There’s a humility to the role that the best reps tap into and use as fuel for their growth.
Get more insight into what qualities make up a successful SDR: Hiring Practices eBook
🏁 The amount of resources available to SDRs now is staggering. It’d be a waste if you didn’t take advantage of them. Scroll down to the bottom of this recap to see some of Eric’s recommended resources!
🏁 The best SDRs are on team human. They’ve realized that while you might be a B2B sales rep, the job is very much H2H (human to human). You have to focus on building trust, rapport, and a real relationship with your prospect instead of focusing on the sale.
Note: Timestamps correspond to the YouTube video
(3:43) The SDR <> AE relationship isn’t universal. There are plenty of full-cycle sales reps that do it all. And while it’s cool to be able to “do your thing” as Eric said, there’s a level of support that’s missing here.
The SDR position might be volatile, but dang if it isn’t nice to have. Following up on warmer/interested prospects vs. doing your own cold outreach is almost universally preferred. It’s important to know how to feed yourself, but it’s also important to know how to unlock the potential of your SDR team.
(5:11) Our access to technology shouldn’t be taken for granted. We have so many tools at our disposal to make us more efficient and effective. SEPs, CRMs, Call Recording software, video recording software…we could go on and on.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Being an SDR is harder than ever, but it’s offset by the insane amount of resources reps have at their disposal. SDRs don’t know how good they have it these days (wow I feel old).
(10:28) Getting out of your comfort zone is…uncomfortable. But if you want to grow, you have to be uncomfortable.
Imposter syndrome is more common than you think – even if you’re not switching roles or industries. But if you don’t face it and shirk growth in favor of comfort, you’ll never progress as quickly as you want.
(14:40) Coachability is a must – whether you’re changing jobs/industries or not. Be willing to learn. Be willing to fail (fast). Be willing to check your ego at the door and come in without bias.
Similarly, ask questions. Talk to your peers, talk to your leaders, talk to people outside your organization (looking at you, online sales communities). The more perspectives, insight, and advice you can compile from someone that isn’t you, the better. You might be worried that you’ll sound dumb – trust us, you won’t.
(19:10) Little pro tip from Eric – if you listen to podcasts, play them at 1.5X speed. Helps you get through them more quickly without sacrificing anything.
(19:45) “If you invest in yourself more than your company does, it’s going to pay huge dividends.”
Couldn’t agree more with Eric here. Like he said, I wish someone had told me that ⬆️ early on in my career. Succeeding as an SDR or AE really hinges on your motivation and drive. Reps who value growth and have that self-starter mentality can improve by leaps and bounds.
(23:35) Cadences and Sequences aren’t universal sales terms – Eric hadn’t encountered either before joining the B2B SaaS world. Just goes to show you how diverse the sales profession is and how obsessed we are (in SaaS) with efficiency, measurability, and consistency.
You should be using that data to help influence your actions. Your SEP can tell you how many steps on average it takes to get in touch with a prospect. And you can even slide and dice that up by persona.
All of this data should be used to help influence (not dictate) your processes.
(26:20) Here’s Tenbound’s Market Map. They’re currently on version 8, and there’s no end in sight.
(30:26) Any dog fans out there? Because my dog, Frankie, decided to waltz on in and demand pets at this moment. He’s very persistent 😅
(33:26) The skills you need, and you’re never going to get away from, are human. Building rapport, establishing trust, starting and nurturing a relationship…these are fundamentally important no matter what role you’re in.
It’s easy to focus on your product and its features, but that’s only a small portion of what contributes to an SDRs success. You need to truly try and help people, not sell them.
(36:00) Personalization didn’t used to just be difficult, it used to be near impossible. The resources we have today to research accounts & prospects are far superior to what existed 10-15 years ago. And you absolutely have to take advantage of that in SaaS.
(37:07) Good info on how you should view personalization. Save your effort and energy for the accounts that matter the most.
(40:47) Personalization is nice. But what really makes you stand out is making that personalization relevant. Have it resonate with their world.
Link it to a problem or priority of theirs that you see in the industry that you’re helping other customers with. Show them that you understand their world. That grabs attention.
Eric has compiled an excellent list of resources that has helped him ramp up and see success in his current role. Here’s hoping they can do the same for you!
Sales Training Resources:
Jed Mahrle’s “Practical Prospecting” (site and weekly newsletter with actionable tips)
Sam Nelson’s sales content (for SDRs)
Sales Community Resources:
SDRevolution to level up SDRs
Rethink The Way You Sell with Jeff Bajorek
Community Resources Sheet (shameless plug – this is AJ’s community round-up!)
30 Minutes to President’s Club with Armand Farrokh and Nick Cegelski
Blissful Prospecting with Jason Bay
The Art of Sales with Art Sobczak
Live Better, Sell Better with KD aka Kevin Dorsey
Inside Inside Sales with Darryl Praill
Rethink The Way You Sell with Jeff Bajorek
The Sales Hacker with Sam Jacobs
Patreon Group Resources:
Inside Sales Excellence with KD aka Kevin Dorsey ($10/mo)
Scotty’s Little Sales Club with Scott Leese ($10/mo)