SaaS careers guide: How to get started in SaaS sales
Mar 5 2021
The popularity of the SaaS business model has exploded over the past few years. With that massive growth comes tons of new job opportunities for those looking to get into the software business. In this post, we'll discuss some of the career paths you can take as you start your journey in this rewarding industry, but we'll put most of our effort into our area of expertise: SaaS sales.
To understand the opportunities that await potential employees in the SaaS industry, you must first understand the phenomenal success that the industry has experienced thus far, and the projected growth that it is set for in the near future. To illustrate that, here are three interesting facts about the industry.
1. Salesforce was one of the first SaaS companies
Before the term SaaS was even coined, Salesforce was selling their CRM product as an online service. This was back in the late 90s when the internet itself was still a new thing to most people. The company went public in 2004, and today this pioneer of the industry brings in over $10 billion a year in revenue.
2. Big data is pushing people to the cloud
In order to compete in the business world today, companies need to take advantage of big data. Big data means big storage costs and big IT departments to match. Alternatively, public cloud-based solutions, such as those provided by SaaS companies, offer all the space needed, handle collecting the data, and remove the need for an IT staff. Because of that, it is estimated that 41% of enterprise workloads will take place on such public solutions.
3. SaaS market size is expected to double by 2026
By 2026, the size of the SaaS market is expected to be $307.3 billion dollars. That is nearly double the $158 billion of 2020's numbers. Part of this growth is attributed to the global COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses that were initially forced into using remote technology, such as SaaS, discovered the benefits of it.
5 career paths within the SaaS industry
Although sales is the primary focus of this post, it's not the only career path that a new hire can take in the world of SaaS. Presented below are the top five career paths in the SaaS industry, in no particular order.
1. Software engineering
The software engineering team is who actually creates and tests the software that's sold by the SaaS company. Broadly speaking, this team will consist of software developers to code the product and quality assurance staff to track down and report bugs.
2. Product Management
The product manager will be the one that oversees the creation and maintenance of the software. It's their job to make sure that all the pieces fit together and the team is working effectively during the development, launch, and lifespan of the product.
3. Project Management
Often confused with product management, project management has a much broader scope. Whereas product management is all about the product, project management is about ensuring that all parts of a company are working together in a cohesive way.
The marketing team is responsible for creating awareness of the product. The primary focus in SaaS marketing is usually inbound marketing, with the goal of bringing as many people into the sales funnel as possible.
Once potential customers are in the sales funnel, it's the responsibility of the sales team to convert them into paying customers. This type of inside sales is much more common in SaaS business than cold-calling or other sales methods.
How to get started working in SaaS
Like any industry, to get started in SaaS, you'll need to get your foot in the door. Thankfully, the continued growth of the industry means that there will be plenty of job opportunities available for motivated job seekers. By following the tips below, you'll not only maximize your chances of getting your foot in the door, but of ensuring that it's the right door for you.
Lockdown your (formal or informal) education
Although it will help, you don't usually need a formal education to get started in the SaaS industry. But you will need to be able to demonstrate your knowledge and experience to any potential employer. This means learning as much as you can about your chosen career path. You can do it with the help of a variety of educational materials and databases, such as Studocu, which are available to everyone and provide an unlimited amount of knowledge.
Find entry-level positions
Like any job, when you're just starting out you'll need to start at the bottom before you can go climbing the stairs to career success. This means you'll need to be on the lookout for entry-level jobs that your particular area of newfound expertise qualifies you for. This will make it far easier for you to not only get the job, but to gain the experience that'll be required for jobs higher up the career ladder.
Search for SaaS companies that fit your passion
This is something that not enough people take into account when looking for a new job. You may be qualified to do a job, but if your heart isn't in it you won't have a pleasant working experience. Worse, you may find that you simply aren't a good fit for the company and end up leaving or getting let go. To avoid this, try to find a job that fits the things you are already interested in. This maximizes your chance of enjoying your work and fitting in well with the existing company culture.
4 careers in SaaS sales
Now let's drill a little deeper into the sales career path and take a look at some of the positions available in SaaS sales. Depending on the organization, the structure and responsibilities (and titles) may vary, but these listings should give you an idea of the type of progression you may see when you start a rewarding career in this fast-growing software industry.
1. Sales development
The sales development team sits between the marketing and sales functions of the business and is in charge of identifying, connecting with, and qualifying prospects. This team includes outbound, as well as inbound sales development. They're tasked with setting up qualified meetings between an account rep/sales rep and a potential buyer with a high probability of purchasing our product.
Outbound sales developmentidentifies potential customers in the early stages of the buyer's journey. They're primarily responsible to drive awareness and interest in your product.
Inbound sales development receives leads generated by the marketing team. They then qualify and quantify those leads.
2. Account executive or sales rep
Once an opportunity is determined to be qualified, it is then passed to an account executive/sales rep, who takes ownership of the opportunity and conducts the rest of the sales process. Armed with a firm understanding of the company's products, account reps/sales reps determine the needs of these potential customers and make compelling arguments for the products which will fulfill those needs.
3. Account manager
After the sale has been made, there is often an account manager in charge of a customer that will continue to support the needs of that customer. Account managers maintain close ties with their clients and will recommend company products that will satisfy the evolving needs of those clients. They are the ones who retain and further monetize existing customers.
4. Sales manager
Typically the direct supervisor of the sales team is the sales manager. This is the person that makes sure the sales team has the tools they need to get their jobs done and ensures that everyone is performing up to par.
5. Sales VP
Higher up the management chain is the Sales VP. The VP doesn't have a direct supervisory role in the day-to-day operation of the sales staff. Rather, they represent the sales team as part of the overall organization, ensuring that everyone's goals are aligned and providing direction for the Sales Manager.
Work for a great team at ProfitWell
Here at ProfitWellI we're always looking for great people to join our team. And if career growth and advancement are important to you, then ProfitWell is the right place to be. We’re serious about providing unparalleled access to leadership, a robust onboarding program, and a level of autonomy in your work that most don’t experience.
When you're looking for a new job, the best you can hope for is a market that is booming. SaaS has just begun its ascent and will become an ever more dominant business model in the years to come. This makes it the ideal career path for up-and-coming experts across the variety of fields that make up the industry.
With a new understanding of what makes SaaS so special in the market today, the types of jobs available in the industry, and potential career paths for SaaS sales, we hope this article has pushed you in a direction that will land you the job of your dreams.
FAQ about SaaS careers
We'll recap with a few frequently asked questions to ensure that you understood everything presented in this article.
Is SaaS sales a good career?
Yes. The growth of the SaaS industry means that a job within it comes with a certain degree of financial stability. SaaS sales is also a rewarding job for a motivated and talented sales professional.
How do I start a career in software sales?
This first step is to learn as much as you can about the digital sales world. In particular, you want to have a firm understanding of inside sales. This knowledge can come from college, recognized online curriculum, or informal training. The less formal your training, though, the more you'll need to demonstrate your solid experience to potential employers. If you're just starting out, look for entry-level jobs at SaaS companies that align with your interests.
Is it hard to get a job in SaaS?
Although competition for jobs is fierce, the expansion of the industry means that there are always opportunities opening up. Like any job, you'll need the qualifications to get in the door, but if you have those you should be able to find a job in the industry.
What's the average salary for SaaS sales?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for an SaaS salesperson in the United States is around $78,000 yearly. The majority of jobs pay between $49,000 and $95,000 per year.
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