Why SMB Sales and Enterprise Sales Have Nothing In Common

When you go to hire a VP of Sales or even your first sales rep, one of the top qualifying questions I always recommend is making sure they have experience at your deal size, your ACV.

There are different cadences, and different skills, in closing $100 vs $1,000 vs $10,000 vs $100,000 vs $1,000,000 a year deals.

There’s obviously a spectrum here, and closing a $100k deal and a $1m deal are very different, but you can learn skills and go up (and perhaps even down) a deal size in sales.

But more than one stage is tough.

Let’s break down what SMB sales at low price points typically is, and indeed needs to be, to scale

  • SMB SaaS companies are overloaded with “leads”.  They often have so many that they cannot follow up with all of them.  In fact, at the lowest end, reps often have to call 50 customers back a day.  It’s the old 50 cold calls, inverted.  AEs have to talk to 50 customers a day to hit their quota.  That’s nothing like enterprise sales 🙂
  • SMB sales reps have to be hyper-efficient. Again, to do 50 customer calls a day requires an efficiency you just don’t need with a 1 or 2 Demos a Day AE selling $50k deals, or a 1-2 demos a week cadence for a field AE trying to close a $500k-$1m deal.
  • SMB sales reps often get no more than 2 touches to close a deal, 3 max.  There just isn’t enough time otherwise.
  • SMB reps will drop any deal that is remotely hard to close.  You sort of have to.
  • SMB reps don’t need to learn to sell to power, who the stakeholders in a purchase are, or other solution skills.

So just realize when you hire an SMB rep to do a bigger deal size sale — or vice-versa — you are taking a very large risk.  They may not have the skills or temperament, and likely lack the training, to make that transition.

At a minimum, you gotta help them.

(Cross-posted @ SaaStr)

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Co-Founder and CEO of EchoSign from inception through tens of millions in cash-flow positive SaaS revenue and acquisition by Adobe Systems Inc. Jason then served as Vice President, Web Services at Adobe, where EchoSign was named the most successful acquisition of 2011-12, posting 199% YoY growth.