Once a startup has found an initial product market fit, the business must evolve the way it models its growth. Before product market fit, a startup’s financial projections focus on costs. The company has no visibility into their revenue growth. So, the management team should minimize costs, maximize cash and lengthen runway to provide as much time as possible to find that product market fit. As we’ve seen, staff are both the greatest asset of a business and also the greatest cost, at least initially, and modeling those is straightforward.
In The Shape of Things to Come, the New Yorker profiles Sir Jony Ive, the man they call Apple’s greatest product. Ive is iconic. His products have been sold 1.5 billion times. For all of his success, Ive’s personality isn’t well known. Neither is his personal history. Or how he manages the Apple Design Lab. The New Yorker article reveals some of these three things. Here are some of my favorite quotes.
If I were asked to create a content marketing strategy for a person or a business from scratch, I would craft a strategy with three dimensions: customer segments, customer lifecycle stage and content type.
**Customer Segments: **Product managers/marketers are responsible for identifying the most important customer segments a startup will pursue. Picking the right customer segments increases profitability, maximizes market size and prioritize the most attractive customer for the business.
In 2009, the Corporate Executive Board, a consultancy providing expertise to some of the world’s largest companies, studied the distinguishing characteristics of great sales people and well-run sales processes. They surveyed more than 6,000 sales reps across 90+ businesses. The analysis revealed three interesting things.
First, most customers don’t perceive a difference between competitive products.
Over and over we found that customers, generally speaking, see significantly less difference between us and the competition than we do ourselves.
In “The Rule of 40% for a Healthy SaaS Company,” Brad Feld shared a simple rule of thumb growth investors often apply to judge the attractiveness of a $50M business. “The 40% rule is that your growth rate + your profit should add up to 40%.”
I was curious if this theory were broadly true, applicable for growth stage companies Brad mentioned, but also early stage companies. So, I calculated this metric, which I’ll call the GP metric in this post, for all the publicly traded SaaS companies over their lifetimes.
It’s becoming more and more expensive to scale a startup in San Francisco. In fact, it’s twice as costly to operate a startup in 2014 as it was in 2009.
According to data from Jones Lang LaSalle, office prices in San Francisco have nearly doubled in five years from $36 per square foot per year to $63. Typically businesses allocate about 150 square feet of office space per employee. Given the market rate for office space and annual salaries, hypothetical 20 person Series A startup will spend about $200k per year per employee in 2015.
After a SaaS startup has achieved some degree of product market fit, the business will likely ramp the go-to-market teams, and in particular the sales team. Measuring and tracking the performance of a growing sales team is critical to the growth and financial health of a business.
The report above is the most effective view of the performance of a sales team I’ve found for SaaS startups. A VP of Sales at a Redpoint portfolio company introduced this report to me, and now I can’t live without it.
In 2011, a team of researchers from Stanford and Harvard led by Teresa Amabile collected daily work journals from more than 250 people at large and small companies in a variety of roles. In each journal entry, an employee described one work event that stood out that day. Over the course of a few months, the study received more than 12,000 responses. From all this data, the team revealed a critical ingredient to be a great manager: managing for progress.
As companies continue to figure out the true role of a Customer Success Manager(CSM), various aspects of the job keeping coming up for debate. As such the Customer Success Manager job is an overarching role that touches various functions such as sales, on-boarding, implementation, training, support, product while continuing to be the single point of contact with the customer.
One such responsibility that gets debated repeatedly in the many discussions I have had with SaaS company leaders is – should CSMs carry a quota? Should they be responsible for up-selling, renewals ?
To set some context and understand how companies have attempted to fulfill the need for Customer Success function will yield the following
- Large majority of companies have converted their Account Management team to Customer Success Team
- A smaller minority have all but renamed their support representatives as Customer Success Managers while continuing to expect them to manage their help desk function.
- Another slice of companies the Customer Success
Continue reading "Should Customer Success Managers carry Quota ?"
SaaS companies are marvelous businesses. They are more predictable than most other kinds of companies and in addition they demonstrate leverage from technology. The best SaaS companies are able to build strong brands, develop scalable products and hire teams to bring those products to market effectively.
To show the power of the convergence of these forces, I’ve analyzed the employee productivity patterns of the 50+ publicly traded SaaS companies.