The nature of work is changing. More jobs are remote and flexible. Companies are now more open to part-time arrangements and working with contractors or agencies, even for key functions like sales. This opens up opportunities for experienced SaaS sales pros to strike out on their own and forge a different sort of career path. Here are some considerations on how to get started as an independent SaaS Sales rep or reseller, and resources and tools from companies specifically tailored to help you make the leap to independence.
Why now may be the time to consider moving to an SaaS sales 'side gigs’, or staying independent vs. an employee.
Laetitia Vitaud in "The Unbundling of Jobs and What it Means for the Future of Work" writes:
The rise of robots and software makes it possible to automate most of the repetitive tasks, including qualified ones. Automation causes an unbundling of the professions of the last century. And because machines are to do all the repetitive work, workers demand a return to the values of craftsmanship. They want to develop their creativity at work. They crave for more autonomy and responsibility, more flexibility in the form of remote work, for example. They reject hierarchy and bureaucracy. This is why qualified workers in high demand are reinventing craftsmanship in the digital age.
There’s an opportunity here for the 'SaaS sales craftsman'. If you can understand the tools, software, data, and outsourced help available, and leverage your experience, skills and network of contacts it is possible to just as well if not better financially as an independent SaaS sales consultant or reseller vs. being tied to one company with a full time job. You can have more freedom, flexibility, and autonomy too.
Depending on the stage of your sales career and life goals, it may be preferable to have a portfolio of income streams and clients. Or gasp there are plenty of individuals wearing multiple hats if their work is 100% remote (and for sales, if you selling complementary products it can be mutually beneficial for the companies you are representing).
What is the best way to get started as an independent SaaS sales rep or reseller?
1. Find a key client or two to get started with as a launching pad
Ideally you would line up a client before you quit your full time job. Depending on your work situation and employment contracts, you may even be able to do this as a side job to your current work situation.
2. Structure long term, mutually beneficial SaaS Sales agreements
Agreements with the clients you represent should include a monthly retainer plus commission. Commission only deals rarely work for either side. There is not enough commitment on a part of the vendor.
Engagements should typically have at least a 3 month trial period. B2B sales have longer sales cycles and it takes time to understand a product, market, messaging, setting up CRM and marketing automation tools, etc. Ideal clients should be measured in years, not months.
3. Market and sell your services
You’ll need to not only sell your clients software, but also sell and market yourself and your services. Just like in sales, you can’t let the pipeline dry up or else if a customer goes away you can be in trouble. Aim for a portfolio of at least 5-6 clients and don’t be afraid to ‘fire’ a client that ends up not being a good fit or working out.
4. Value your time and expertise appropriately
Make sure you charge enough for your services. Understand your market value and the cost for a company to hire a full time, W2 sales rep. If a company is breaking into a new market or country, the costs of finding an employee, setting up an office, local entity, etc. Two of the main drawbacks and added cost for going the route of an independent SaaS sales reseller:
- No benefits - Health insurance can be a massive cost for the self-employed. Getting covered under a spouse's employer plan is one way around this issue. Decent is one company focused on healthcare for independent, freelance workers.
- Pay your own employment taxes. The big difference here is that typically employees and their employers split the bill on Social Security and Medicare (i.e., you pay 7.65% and your employer pays 7.65%); self-employed people pay both halves. The Self Employment Tax Hub from Bonsai is a great resource that includes a self employment tax calculator, list of common self employment deductions, and more.
The freedom, autonomy, and flexibility can more than make up for these drawbacks. The ability to price your services and get paid for value vs. time and work with multiple clients can still make the numbers work out.
Checklist for getting started as an Independent SaaS Sales Rep or Reseller:
To Incorporate or Not
As with several items here, talk to a lawyer (or CPA). Establishing a business entity like and LLC. can give at least some layer of protection. Nolo has a good guide on whether to set up an LLC as an independent contractor.
Pros of incorporating:
- Individual 401(k) plan allows you to sock away an additional $38,000 a year (2021 limits) in retirement accounts (the usual $19,500 employee limit plus $38,000 as an employer). More benefits of a Solo 401(k) plan explained here.
- Loans and government grants may be available
- Business tax deductions
Cons of incorporating:
- Filing as an LLC or especially an S or C Corp does have some costs and added complexity
Resources to help:
- Form a legal entity anywhere in the world for a $500 flat fee with Stripe Atlas.
- Collective is focused on helping single person companies incorporate (often as an S Corp), Tax, Accounting, Payroll, and Retirement Plans
- Catch.co helps independents build a modern benefits package
- Wingspan.app covers invoices, benefits, and taxes for independent pros all in one place
- Keeper helps 1099 employees automatically discover tax write-offs
Set up a Business Bank Account
It’s a good idea to set up a separate business bank account and likely a separate business credit card.
- Keep income and expenses separate which can help at tax time
- Establish business credit
- Reduce legal liability by keeping personal and business records separate. The ""corporate veil" shields personal assets from a business lawsuit.
Get Business Insurance
General Liability Insurance at a minimum is likely a good idea (and many clients will require this). Depending on the nature of your work and clients you may need Errors and Omissions or additional levels of insurance. Hiscox is one provider of general liability business insurance for a single member LLC with reasonable rates.
Freshbooks is very easy to use, looks professional, allows for payments via Stripe or PayPal, and makes it very easy to run payment reports, P&L statements, etc.
Now is a great tine to get started as an independent SaaS Sales rep or reseller. There is tons of demand for these types of roles - make sure to browse the part-time SaaS sales job listings at SaaSBoost.io and add your services to the SaaS Sales Database.