In recent posts, we discussed how to identify your customer and how to build a business plan and go-to-market strategy. What about the team? What roles do you need at what times to build your business and support your product and customers successfully?
It’s time to think about who’s going to implement your plans. A few notes:
- This post doesn’t cover every role necessary for running your business (for example, human resources or finance)
- This post will cover the roles critical to your product lifecycle and accelerating your business’ growth
- Don’t panic as we talk about roles; one person can often handle multiple roles, especially in the early stages of your business
Even if you’re a jack-of-all-trades who plans to do it all by yourself, or a scrappy startup with a few employees, read on. Certain roles are often overlooked, especially if you’re new to cloud computing.
After taking into account the strengths of you and your team, consider hiring contractors, part-time employees, or consultants. For example, let’s say you’re a business wizard and have a great idea. Consider looking for a product development outsourcer (PDO) to create the app to your specifications. Or, if you’re a technical wizard, consider bringing on contractors as needed for marketing and sales. Think creatively to fill these roles — just make sure that everyone knows their responsibilities.
As an ISV Partner, you’re working with Salesforce right away. As your business grows, you might also develop strategic alliances with other partners. An alliances director has responsibility for managing those partnerships.
Do you want your offering to be a commercial success? To close business and build revenue, we recommend having a trained salesperson who can communicate the business value of your offering to customers. Then consider hiring someone for inside sales — those sales done over the phone. We also recommend choosing an executive or experienced sales person to develop significant deals by meeting with key companies.
Many aspects of your business plan require someone with marketing expertise. Start with someone who can develop and act on your marketing plan and build your sales kit content. As your business grows, think about specialized roles for handling public relations, events and sponsorships, and social media.
Who is leading your technical team? That person is responsible for your product roadmap and making sure that development of your product is on track. That same person, or others, build and test the application. Your technical lead can assist you in determining other technical role needs.
You’ve sold your offering. Great! Who’s responsible for managing orders, provisioning, pricing, and licensing? That’s right, your sales operations team. They’re going to keep your sales team running like a well-oiled machine with all the right reports and dashboards so that you have visibility into your entire sales cycle.
Remember, happy customers are key to the SaaS business model. Customer Success Managers (CSM), as we call them at Salesforce, are responsible for ensuring that customers are successful and happy — that they use and adopt your offering and will want to renew in the future.
When customer questions and issues arise around your offering, support agents provide the first line of response. Have an SLA in place for your support team, and train them to prioritize the most critical customer cases.
We often see businesses grow to a certain point with their current business plan and funding, then plateau. To continue growing requires that your company invest in itself.
When you have the financial stability to continue to grow your business, it’s a good time to think about hiring more people. Ideally, to ensure that your team is ready to hit the next milestone, plan a few months ahead of your needs. And keep in mind that it usually takes a few months for new hires to be fully productive.
And don’t over hire. Use your plan and revenue targets as guides. Cultivate a network of people to join your team in the future. Having a pipeline of qualified candidates shortens your hiring process.
After you’ve determined why you’re expanding your team, focus on the roles that get you there. For example, to accelerate sales, determine if you want to invest in marketing or sales and which specific roles within those departments you need the most.