Account Managers and Business Development Managers are crucial roles for any SaaS organisation looking to grow their market share and retain their existing clients.
But many businesses underestimate the broad skillset required to perform this role effectively. Account management is a complex field that needs more than strong communication and organisational skills.
As a SaaS business owner, you are entrusting them to lead your business and client retention strategy, juggle customer expectations (and keep them happy), renew high-stakes accounts and bring in the big bucks.
In this blog, we provide an overview of the SaaS Account Manager/Business Development Manager role, the key skills and attributes to look for, and some best practice tips for securing the top talent in the market.
What is a SaaS Account Manager/Business Development Manager?
In a previous blog, we discussed how you can structure your SaaS team to appropriately reflect your growth stage. Account and Business Development Managers are key to expanding your SaaS business through cross-selling and up-selling to existing customers or bringing in new ones.
A SaaS Account/Business Development Manager’s daily duties will be articulating your software’s value proposition and benefits to prospective buyers. This can be done via the phone, in person or through software demonstrations that show how much your product can improve your customers’ day-to-day lives.
Account or Business Development Managers will work closely with your Customer Success team, by transitioning new customers for onboarding or finalising additional sales of existing customers. Customer Success teams can also provide insight and feedback directly from customers that can help Account/BD Managers tailor their pitches.
Top Skills for a SaaS Account Manager/Business Development Manager
It’s easy to think that SaaS Account and Business Development Managers are all about pitching and selling. But the top talent in the market has a broad skillset covering everything from insight and analysis to reporting.
Analytical and critical thinking
Successful sales are all about identifying a customer’s need. We’ve all seen the analogy where someone is asked to sell a pen rather than talk through the key benefits and attributes of the pen, the best salesperson will create a situation where the pen is absolutely necessary.
Figuring out a customer’s need requires both analytical and critical thinking. Customer insight can come from secondary market research, prospective clients or current customers via your Customer Success team. The Account or BD Manager will be responsible for analysing the data and determining which insights will most likely lead to a sale, bearing in mind that clients don’t always know what they are missing.
While this may seem obvious, it’s important to understand the expectations of an Account Manager in a SaaS business. We’re talking about tracking customer interactions through CRMs, establishing and reporting on relationship goals, tracking Monthly Recurring Revenue, customer churn and customer renewal rates, and projections for the future.
This requires candidates to have strong data entry and analysis capabilities as well as the expected customer service and interpersonal skills. Project management can also sit within this category, so knowledge of established systems and methodologies is also a bonus when recruiting new people into your team.
Product demonstrations will require Account/BD Managers to have a decent level of tech-savvy. After all, they need to show customers that your product is simple and easy to use. You don’t want them fumbling around when walking through a sales demo.
A talented Account Manager should be able to learn quickly and adapt to product changes or upgrades. They should also be able to liaise with your development team to better understand the software or find the answer to a customer’s question.
Persuasion and negotiation
At the end of the day, you can have all the information and data in the world but you must be able to present a compelling pitch. Knowing how to sell effectively requires empathy, active listening and the ability to present a persuasive argument.
Negotiation skills are also essential, so the sales team and the customer are able to achieve a satisfactory outcome that benefits both parties. This might include offering free trials, reduced rates for an initial contract period or access to additional training and onboarding.
Tips for Securing Top SaaS Business Development / Account Managers
As SaaS recruitment specialists, our team at Harvey Thomas is well-versed in what top Account Management and Business Development talent are looking for. Applying some of these best practice tips allows you to source and secure your next team member quickly and effectively.
Improve candidate experience
In-demand SaaS professionals such as Account Managers and BD Managers now expect a certain degree of engagement throughout the recruitment process. From communicating regularly and providing updates to reducing the number of steps in the recruitment process, it’s important for Hiring Managers to prioritise the candidate’s needs.
Work with a recruitment specialist
Many of the best SaaS Account Managers are what we call passive candidates. They are not actively applying for roles, but are open to receiving offers through a trusted source. Recruitment specialists, such as Harvey Thomas, have built extensive networks over the years and can find the best person for the job regardless of whether they are actively looking right now.
Reduce time to hire
When candidates are in hot demand, it’s risky to implement a drawn-out hiring process. You may find yourself in a situation where your preferred candidate drops out of the process mid-way or accepts another offer. Try to reduce the steps in the hiring process - from securing budget to determining your hiring panel in advance and make timely decisions whenever possible.
Reduce notice period
Releasing candidates from extensive notice periods requires negotiation but greatly benefits your organisation. A recruitment partner can help broker these agreements, ensure your new Account Manager is onboarded, and able to bring in new sales as soon as possible.
Speak to the SaaS Specialists
Our team at Harvey Thomas have 14 years of experience recruiting Business Development and Account Managers within the SaaS industry. We have a well-established, pre-qualified network of technical and technical sales professionals to ensure that your VP of Sales/Sales Manager/Sales Executive/Account Executive and Business Development recruitment projects are filled quickly and painlessly. Get in touch with one of our consultants today.