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    How to scale SaaS without a messy tech stack

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    Almost every B2B SaaS company runs into growing pains when it comes time to scale beyond a single salesperson or two and the original leadership team. Often, this happens when there’s an influx of venture capital and a need to grow quickly to satisfy stakeholder demands.

    VCs generally understand that sales is a critical component of growth, but very few of them understand sales technology at the operational level. In fact, operationalizing the SaaS sales strategy and process is not well understood even within the industry.

    As a result, many SaaS companies fall into the trap of following the lead of major sales tech stack companies and purchasing too much, too little, or the wrong tools to support their efforts. This trap starts with the premise that they even need a SaaS sales tech stack - and it leads to the three big mistakes that happen in almost every sales department trying to scale:

    Point pollution in the SaaS sales tech stack

    When investors step up to fund a young SaaS company, they always come with high expectations for growth. They’ll want to sit on the board and oversee progress. But it’s rare that these investors have experience building a technical platform that supports progress and growth.

    As a result, they end up riding the same hype trends as everyone else, saying yes to unwieldy SaaS sales (and marketing) tech stacks, and adding point solutions every time a new need or problem arises.

    Sales technology can slow down your sales effectivity.

    Because there’s plenty of investment money and a mandate to grow fast, sales leadership often ends up adding point solutions to the tech stack too fast to even question whether they’ll drive the sales effectiveness they seek.

    When the tech stack becomes the Frankenstack

    Over time, many sales organizations develop what I call the Frankenstack. In some companies, this happens gradually. In the start-up SaaS company, this can happen very quickly.

    The Frankenstack is what happens when you stack technologies on top of technologies without a clear plan or overarching strategy for operationalizing your sales strategy and process. It results in a mishmash of ill-fitting tools and parts. Each tool may be necessary, but because it’s patched together without a strategy, it becomes unwieldy and difficult for the sales team to use. It leads to “app switching” and missed steps as salespeople get busy.

    In the funded SaaS company, the development of the Frankenstack is supercharged by the influx of money and the fact that the organization can afford to make the purchases - plus the demand to scale quickly. Sales technology is seen as a way to take shortcuts to speed up, but ends up slowing them down.

    How the Hydra makes it impossible to operationalize your sales strategy

    Once your company has headed down the Frankenstack path, your sales tech stack can quickly become a many-headed Hydra.

    The Hydra was a monster of ancient myth, that swallowed up ships when they passed by. The Hydra had many heads and was impossible to kill, because every time you cut off one head, two more would grow in its place.

    When SaaS and other companies buy up point solutions and stack them on top of their core technology (for instance, a traditional CRM like Salesforce), each new addition adds complexity. Even when these tools are “integrated” into the CRM, they create new opportunities for the core technology to glitch or fail. If they’re not integrated in, they also add task switching and workflow complexity to the sales team’s jobs.

    The more complex the system becomes, the more often the technology will break. And when it breaks, it is often costly to repair, if even possible. And when the repairs require custom coding, the custom coding will often cause two more problems for every problem that is solved.

    That’s the Hydra, and it can eat a company alive.

    How to actually operationalize your sales and marketing without the mess

    When you’re in a hurry to scale due to stakeholder demands, it’s critical that you get your technology right the first time. Failure to plan and operationalize effectively will lead to failure to grow.

    And for the most part, you can’t expect the VCs themselves to be knowledgeable about how to do this at the ground level. They want their KPIs - and they expect you to know how to get them. If they do provide advice or guidance, it’s likely to be along traditional lines, and ultimately lead to all the same tech stack problems.

    To get this right, you have to slow down and understand your customer’s experience, and what you can offer that’s valuable to them - as well as who your best customers are. When you’re in a hurry to scale, this can feel like a slow way to start, but it’s absolutely critical to getting the rest right.

    Then, once you’ve mapped out your customer’s experience and matched your sales and marketing strategy to the customer, take the time to map out the actual sales process beyond simply stages. You need milestones, steps, checklists, and enablement material. You need a process for moving customers from one step to the next, as well as for handoffs among the sales and customer success teams, supported by marketing along the way.

    Some companies get this far, and then stop before the final critical step: Operationalizing the process.

    Making the process actually work

    And making it possible to scale the process beyond one or two salespeople, and then to their customer success and account management teams.

    To do this right, you need to take your process and use technology to build workflows that guide your teams through the correct stages, milestones, and steps. That provide them with all the resources, training, coaching, and enablement that they require in order to execute correctly.

    And you need a solution that does this elegantly, beautifully, and completely without the need to stack technologies on top of technologies.

    This same technology should also provide you with the data you need to understand what’s happening at the ground level, so you can make adjustments as necessary to drive the growth you need. Within a Frankenstack environment, aggregating effective data is almost impossible. It must be streamlined.

    I believe Membrain is the tool that every B2B SaaS team needs in order to grow without the messy tech stack. It is elegant, beautiful, complete, and it provides you with everything you need to operationalize your sales strategy. We would love to show you how it works - schedule a demo today.

    George Brontén
    Published September 22, 2021
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

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