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10 tips to increase your annual contract value

saas sales startups Aug 18, 2021


Part 2

This is a continuation from an earlier article aimed at helping founders, CEOs, sales leaders and AEs successfully increase annual contract values.


โ˜Ž๏ธ 5. Never rely on inbound


If you're lucky enough to get a good volume of well qualified inbound leads into your pipeline, count yourself damn lucky! In enterprise SaaS that is highly unusual. Don't expect inbound to get you to goal, and understand that the top biller this year will have a solid outbound strategy. Make sure you have one too.

๐Ÿ’กPersonal prospecting is how my teams have always uncovered the biggest opportunities, discovered greenfield territories and it's these deals that have been the needle movers. They rarely land in your lap. Be proactive, be an owner, take control. That's how you grow your ACV.


๐Ÿ”6. Sell high


Nothing beats connecting with the C-suite. OK it's tough in the Fortune 500, but man it's worth trying, and it's not impossible. Worst case scenario is you're ignored but you've got an excuse to call the EA and attempt to get 5 minutes in the calendar to pitch the value of your product. I call this "luke warm calling".

In earlier stage fast growth companies, getting to the CEO is much more realistic, write a very personalized outreach that truly grabs their attention, and be prepared to pitch the CEO.

A common scenario, is you'll get passed to the relevant person in the company, with a directive from the boss to follow-up, this is a solid outcome. That person now has strong incentive to fully engage with you.

๐Ÿ’กAEs that neither prioritize outbound, and never sell high will fail in enterprise SaaS. It's the courageous and the creative that build plentiful high value pipelines that win. Sell high with highly relevant and highly targeted content.


๐Ÿค 7. Network like a mofo!


When selling $100k+ deals into the enterprise top sales people will always be looking to discover and create relationships with at least 4 different types of buyer influence:

  • Economic Buyer

  • User Influence

  • Technical Influence

  • Coach/Champion

Top sales people will also be looking to leverage the trust and momentum they have built in one department to suck other departments into the mix to increase the size of the opportunity.

๐Ÿ’กIt's the AEs that build trust across the widest group of influencers at a prospect that win the largest deals in the fastest time frames. Always be networking!


๐Ÿ—ฃ 8. Speak the right language


Chapter 3 of William 'Skip' Miller's book "Proactive Selling" refers to the language you use with your buying audience being akin to literally speaking a different "language", dictated by the level of your audience. This is a killer chapter everyone in a go-to-market org should read.

I've slightly adapted Miller's thoughts on the language here:

  1. Manager level: Feature/Function, make life easier

  2. Vice President: Increase revenue, decrease cost, hit quarterly goals

  3. C-Suite: Market size, market share, share price, gain a competitive advantage

๐Ÿ’กThe best AEs are essentially polyglots. They are able to speak multiple verbal and non verbal "languages" and interchange between them at an ultra high frequency. Those that master this are able to break new ground and significantly increase ACV.


๐Ÿฆป๐Ÿผ 9. Listen to the business AND the person


Guess what? Behind the corporate shield the person you are selling to is a human too. They have both business and personal ambitions and pressures - often we forget that or fail to tune into it. Building trust to a point where your buyer is comfortable revealing personal motivations is a major milestone every top enterprise AE focuses on.

๐Ÿ’กWhen you're able to tune into and satisfy both the business and personal goals of your buyer, you build deep levels of trust that rapidly escalate the potential deal size, and reduce sales cycles.


๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ 10. Celebrate success


I'm writing this as we approach end of Q2 2021. I've spoken with multiple sales people who I've mentored and stay close to who have had amazing quarters and broken new ground for their companies. I'm so damn proud of them!

They have been grinding hard for months through a pandemic. They have taken a heavy mental toll to get to this point. And yet they are fearful of their line managers and CEOs reneging on their comp plans! WTF!?

This is one of the dumbest moves a CEO could ever sanction, and if you're a VP Sales who is being put under pressure by the CEO to act like this, this is your moment. Understand the hubris of your failing to have the back of your team. You will instantly lose trust and trust is everything. Have their backs, go into bat for them and your team will go the extra mile for you every day from this moment onwards. Sadly those of you who have broken new ground, and done landmark deals know all too well how it feels to have a bonus plan reneged on at end of quarter - I feel you, that rarely ends well, speak with my friend Amy Volas, she'll help you find the next thing.

๐Ÿ’กThe matrix move by the CEO is to do the opposite. Pay your top biller the $1m bonus their comp plan lays out, and if there's ambiguity let it fall in the favor of your AE. Put them up in lights in front of the company, celebrate them, and then watch the pipeline light up! Do the opposite and your ACV and pipeline will never reach its full potential. Even if your ARR growth feels good, it will in fact always be way off where it could have been.

Good luck closing the quarter everyone! ๐Ÿ’ต ๐Ÿš€