Your business is starting to grow and need to ramp your hiring. It
is critical to get the right few people at the start in important leadership
roles because they will be responsible for building out their respective teams
in turn. Better choices at the beginning will make for a better team from top
But SaaS businesses also have a number of differences from other
startups, especially around managing sales and customers. So your customer
support and sales teams are of special importance. There are also nuances to
engineering, infrastructure and product that you should be aware of.
When it comes to building out and structuring SaaS teams, sales,
customer success and support are going to be your biggest and most critical
It’s important to emphasize that customer success is going to be
part of the role every single hire you make in a SaaS business. An overview of the steps along the way from
employee training, pre-sale content and visuals, onboarding engagement and
retention maintenance are critical to success.
Finally, insights into the team structure will assist in
determining what functions and in what numbers you should hire. Breaking down the needs in the areas of
product development, engineering, marketing, sales, services and
finance/administration will best educate the overall employee headcount and
where most support is required.
Once you’ve got some idea of where you need to hire it is time to
move onto the specific characteristics you need to look for in each role. We’ve
broken that advice down into sales hiring, CTO, marketing and product hires
Hiring for a sales leader and for sales reps in a SaaS business is
key because you need people who understand that they are selling a long-term
value proposition and a relationship rather than just a product.
An SaaS salesperson should not only be fluent in the company’s
technology and understand the value of the product but also understand the
ideal customer and keep their long-term success in mind.
Finding the right person to fill the critical role of VP of Sales
is worth putting time into to find the right fit. A great resource for this
decision can be found at SaaStr where
an entire section is devoted to highlighting things you should consider for
this critical role.
As for landing the right person for the critical role of VP of
Sales to oversee the department, it can be a
On the engineering side, you have a number of roles to consider
but the critical one is your CTO. A great CTO can help you fill the development
and infrastructure and all of the other critical slots that you will need. You
may already have this role filled by a co-founder or it may be you that are
planning to fill the role Even in that case it is still good to be aware of the
need because down the road as you grow you are going to need to delegate.
Customer Support and Success
This is another critical area in which to hire and it is even more
important because your customer success and support teams also need to
understand the specific space in which your particular SaaS platform operates.
A Customer Success Manager (CSM) is a vital addition to management to help
build strong customer relationships.
This rapport is valuable during all stages of business development but
especially in the initial days when the bulk of kinks are being worked out.
Despite a frequent feeling that marketing is a soft discipline,
the reality is that marketing is a key component of demand generation and
success around awareness and sales. If you don’t start out strong here you have
just as much risk down the line as with any other discipline. Marketing goes well beyond placing ads and
coming up with promotional items. SaaS
business should set themselves up with a VP of Marketing that works closely
with the sales team to help develop solid leads as well as have a solid
understanding of lead nurturing and web demand generation programs.
Last up on this list is product – partly because this is a role
frequently held by founders for a significant period of time. But the reality
is that great product management has skill sets that go beyond what a founder
may typically have, even if the founder is the true expert on the product they
are building. So don’t neglect this discipline either. A good head of product should bring together
the company’s visionaries with the engineers to produce a sellable end product.
All of this advice is just that – advice
Owen Linderholm is
Senior Content Strategist at WePay. He has previously held content
and editorial roles at Yahoo, Microsoft, IDG and the BBC.