15+ of The Top Sales & Marketing Mistakes SaaS Startups Make

Recently I assembled my “Top 15” list of Sales & Marketing mistakes SaaS startups make as things start to take-off.  We’ve touched on quite a few of these before on SaaStr (will link to them), but I thought this might be a helpful checklist to challenge your thinking at a minimum. We’ve all made many of these mistakes ourselves, myself included ?  I’m even making a few myself again.  But if you see yourself making any of the mistakes below, it’s fairly easy to make a course correction.  Just do it!  It will help. Sales:

How to Know if a Key Hire is an A or a B (or even a C)

The biggest mistake you are probably going to make is hiring B or even C players for key director and VP positions when you get your startup going.  This will set you back many, many months.  Time and money lost investing in a key individual who simply doesn’t deliver in a critical position.

As a first-time manager, you really won’t have the experience to know really who is an A, B or C player for any position you haven’t held yourself.It’s hard to judge if you haven’t done it before and/or if you are a first-time hiring manager. How do you really know who is a decent director of product management when you’ve never even worked with one, for example?

But there is an easy hack / fix: get an advisor / mentor who has done it before — and well — to interview your final list Continue reading "How to Know if a Key Hire is an A or a B (or even a C)"

2018-2025: The Golden Age of SaaS Freemium

Way back in 2012, in the early days of SaaStr, we wrote a piece challenging everyone out there who dreamed of going freemium in SaaS.  That’d you’d need at least 50 million users to build a Unicorn, or at least, to build something big.  To challenge you to make sure you can really get at least 10m+ users if you want to truly go the freemium / self-service / no sales route.  More of that math here. Freemium is nothing new.  In fact, it’s where most of us start, or close to it.  And fast forward to today, now there are many SaaS freemium Unicorns and freemium pre-nicorns, from DropBox to Slack to Mailchimp to Squarespace and Wix and so many more. But for most of us, we’re going to make it by going a bit upmarket.  In fact, a good percentage of the
Continue reading "2018-2025: The Golden Age of SaaS Freemium"

2018-2025: The Golden Age of SaaS Freemium

Way back in 2012, in the early days of SaaStr, we wrote a piece challenging everyone out there who dreamed of going freemium in SaaS.  That’d you’d need at least 50 million users to build a Unicorn, or at least, to build something big.  To challenge you to make sure you can really get at least 10m+ users if you want to truly go the freemium / self-service / no sales route.  More of that math here. Freemium is nothing new.  In fact, it’s where most of us start, or close to it.  And fast forward to today, now there are many SaaS freemium Unicorns and freemium pre-nicorns, from DropBox to Slack to Mailchimp to Squarespace and Wix and so many more. But for most of us, we’re going to make it by going a bit upmarket.  In fact, a good percentage of the
Continue reading "2018-2025: The Golden Age of SaaS Freemium"

The One Best, “Secret” Hack to Getting Venture Funding

I am fairly confident there are at least 10,000 Medium posts, 20,000 WordPress articles, and over well over 1,000,000 Tweets on How to Get Funded. It bores me personally, but I know it’s an important topic.  Raising money for many CEOs is one of the their top 5 priorities.  Without venture capital, I’d be nowhere.  Both of my first two-startups were venture-backed.  And it’s a weird, strange world that until recently was highly opaque. Now having been on three sides of the table ? — founder 3x, worked at someone’s VC firm, solo investor — I’d like to take a moment to boil down all the possible advice I could into one learning: The Highest Chance You Have to Get Funded is When the VC Already Wants to Invest Before The First Meeting.  Before you’ve even met him or her. Trust me.  VCs claim to
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Continue reading "The One Best, “Secret” Hack to Getting Venture Funding"

How Much Should the CEO Pay Herself?

There’s a lot of stuff written on how much to pay yourself as CEO.  Christoph Janz has a great spreadsheet of quantitative thoughts here. Having thought a bunch about it, I think I can distill it down to 3 general guidelines:
  • In the very early days, the CEO should be one of the worst paid. Until you have material revenues and/or funding, the CEO should ideally only take out the minimum she needs.  If you are taking more out before $1m or $2m in ARR (or a large round) than you need to survive, something is off.
  • Post-Initial Traction, and the hiring of a VP or Two — the CEO should probably be the 3d best paid. Hopefully, your VP of Sales is doing so well, she makes the most — not in base salary, but in salary + bonus. Then, hopefully, you’ve hired another Great VP that is so
    ?
    Continue reading "How Much Should the CEO Pay Herself?"

How You Can Help Your Sales Team in 2018

Hopefully you are closing the year out strong.  Even if you are coming up a bit short, there’s one thing I do know.  If you have a good sales team, they are leaving nothing on the table.  They won’t go home until 11:59 on December 31.  They’re going to do everything they can to hit the plan, or exceed it. (If they aren’t — you need a new VP of Sales). Then January 2 will come, and the team will be exhausted, at least the managers will be.  I don’t mean physically.  They will rest up over the holiday.  But the fact that the Closed/Won dials in Salesforce will roll all the way back to $0 for the year on Jan 1 … that’s tough.  Oh man.  Whatever great work the sales team did in 2017 will be 100% behind them
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A Deep Dive on Pricing with DataStax, CircleCi, and Fastly @ Heavybit

The other day our great friends at Heavybit invited me to moderate a pricing session at their terrific Pricing Strategy conference. It was a very honest discussion on the learnings of how to get discounting to work, how to roll out additional products, how to align a sales team on the company’s goal, and much more.  DataStax, CircleCi and Fastly are all pretty impressive companies in eight figures of ARR we can all learn a lot from their founders/CEOs. It’s a good one and definitely worth a watch, click below! [p.s. yes i know it was a manel.  there are some other great, and more diverse sessions, to check out as well.  click below for more!] The post A Deep Dive on Pricing with DataStax, CircleCi, and Fastly @ Heavybit appeared first on SaaStr.