E42 - SaaS Sales Best Practices Shawn Green, Saltmine

Some sales principles are universal. While there are strategies and best practices that differ between industries, some techniques that work for one industry may be applicable to others.

This is what Shawn Green of SaltMine is trying to do. An experienced sales leader in software sales, he currently runs SaltMine’s go-to-market strategy and sales function as Chief Revenue Officer.

In this episode of Tech Sales Insights, Shawn talks about how he’s bringing in best practices from his software sales experience into the commercial real estate industry. He also discusses what attracted him to work with an early-stage startup, what he looks out for when scouting for sales talent, and what he does to balance his work and personal life.

SaltMine aims to disrupt the commercial real estate industry. Dubbed as a “workplace operating system”, its platform helps companies form a 3D visualization of their office spaces. This helps companies create real-time changes to their offices. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow return to the office, SaltMine’s platform can help companies enter the new normal by reconfiguring their office spaces to maximize a hybrid setup.

Prior to SaltMine, Shawn has worked in late-stage startups and public companies. This is the first time he’s been with an early-stage startup that just closed its Series A funding round. What drew him to SaltMine was a phenomenal CEO, the company’s strong relationship with the commercial real estate industry, and a supportive board.

These three things not only excited him but allowed him to create an environment that would lead the company towards an eventual Series C round. An early-stage startup also gave him the opportunity to build a SaaS sales program from the ground up.

Adapting Best Practises

With his years of experience in software sales, Chris has developed a go-to-market plan. This plan includes key metrics such as pipeline, people planning, partners, operating rhythm, and execution. These make up the key pillars of what he is trying to implement at SaltMine.

As he is trying to build the characteristics of a software company in the commercial real estate industry, this go-to-market plan is his playbook to ensure that SaltMine grows and becomes a big player in the field.

He started with building a customer success team and he is incredibly proud that the team is now filled with passionate people willing to venture out of their comfort zones.

The key task he’s on currently is figuring out the product-market fit, which will then inform their go-to-market strategy. This would allow him to scale up their operating rhythm. The difficulty here is that he is building a segment in a market that doesn’t exist. Essentially, he is creating the need for 3D visualization of workplaces that will allow companies to reconfigure their offices. In an industry that isn't always open for disruption, this is a steep road.

To help, Shawn instilled OKRs for SaltMine’s sales reps. This not only helps them be set up for success in the future, it also ensures that their sales process is accelerated. Additionally, this empowers sales reps as they can see that they are part of building, progressing, and closing a pipeline.

What to Look Out For in Sales Talent

Given the situation Shawn and SaltMine are in, it can be very difficult to cultivate talented salespeople to sell software that companies may not need in an industry not known for being software-oriented. So Shawn primarily looks out for people who are already successful in selling, particularly selling software.

A tried and tested philosophy he subscribes to is that since he is building value, he needs people to be able to deliver that value to customers. This is how he identifies sales talent for SaltMine.

He also goes on to list important attributes that he would like in a salesperson working for him. These are: accepts responsibility, takes action and is proactive, super coachable, has an executive presence, be a team player, and has empathy. Once he knows someone has these attributes, it’s all about making sure these salespeople are able to deliver value to their customers.

On hiring a sales leader, trust is important for Shawn. As someone who is binary on trust doesn’t want to micromanage, knowing that he can trust someone to do their work, it’s vital that they help their team and are doing the right things.

The Keys to Keeping a Work-Life Balance

Shawn admits that the pandemic has made it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. So the key for him is to remember what is important for him.

As a father of two, he doesn’t want to waste time and miss out on important milestones. He wants to make memories with his children. His family is what is important to him and what drives him to try to keep a healthy work-life balance.

His advice is to compartmentalize your day and keep work and personal life separate. Don’t let work bleed into time with your kids or whatever is important to you. Blocking time for the things you want to do outside of work is key to compartmentalization.

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