5 Ways to Enter a Crowded Market. And 3+ Ways Not To.

In SaaS, usually one of 5 things enable a new vendor to break-out in a crowded space:
  • 10x better at One Important Thing. In the early days, you will be buggy and feature-poor. Maybe even in the not-so-early days ? But if you are 10x better at (x) One Important Thing that (y) customers value and will pay for, that’s enough. Many founders get this wrong however, and build a key feature that is indeed 10x better — but not one important enough to pick a raw new vendor to get. It’s only a subset of critical functionality that customers will pay to have implemented 10x better than an existing, trusted vendor. Usually, the part that is close to the money they make, manage, process, or collect.  A little more here.
  • Dramatically Cheaper. This one’s tough to play. Because businesses trust and value brands they can rely on. But often,
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The 7 Best Pieces of Business Advice I Was Given

Here’s my list of the best golden advice I was given as a first-time — and second-time CEO:

  • Manage People — In General, and Earlier. The earlier in your career you can learn how to manage people, the faster you can excel in learning to scale. Managing people isn’t always fun. But embrace it if you want to be a CEO, a founder, and/or be a part of something bigger.
  • Listen to “Audibles” and Act on Them. Your best bosses, VPs, mentors and others will give you “audibles” — quick bits of micro-advice duringpitches, customer meetings, interviews, etc. While you are in the process of working ? They’ll see where you could improve in real-time. Take this real-time feedback and leverage it and act on it immediately. If someone else great is in the room with you, these audibles can make the difference between a positive outcome and a Continue reading "The 7 Best Pieces of Business Advice I Was Given"

Come Visit the New SaaStr CoSelling Space in the Heart of SOMA (303 2nd Street)!

We’ve unpacked, we’ve settled in, the Internet works and we’ve got Wednesday lunches worked out. Now come tour and check out the new 2.0 SaaStr CoSelling Space! It’s bigger (18,000 sq ft) and for most folks, more centrally located (heart of SOMA) than the first CSS.  We have in-building parking and a half dozen restaurants on site, and it’s just a block to Salesforce, LinkedIn, Algolia, South Park VCs, Blue Bottle, and everything else. Want a Day Pass or a tour?  Click here and the team will make it happen! We’ll also have a formal open house and first event there soon.  All of Team SaaStr works out of here, too.  It’s fun and everyone here is a post-revenue SaaS company.  Learning to scale together. The post Come Visit the New SaaStr CoSelling Space in the Heart of SOMA (303 2nd Street)! appeared first on SaaStr.

SaaStr Podcast #164: Mark Godley, President @ LeadGenius Discusses the Right Way To Sell To Enterprise Buyers

Mark Godley is the President of LeadGenius, the startup that provides the power of human intelligence with the scale of machine learning. To date they have raised $16m in funding from the likes of a16z, Initialized Capital, Scott and Cyan Banister, and SV angel just to name a few. As for Mark, he most recently served as Chief Revenue Officer for HG Data and before that was VP of Market Development for ConnectandSell. If that was not enough, Mark also holds advisory roles in the salestech and martech space, including Omniquo, ZenIQ.io, and The Big Willow. In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

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)"

Sales AMA with Mark Roberge: Your Burning Questions Answered (Video + Transcript)

Mark Roberge, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and former CRO at Hubspot, takes the Deep Dive Stage to answer burning questions that we all have about sales and running a successful sales organization. What’s the ideal churn rate for your sales team? How do you deal with the product team blaming the sales team, and vice versa, when you don’t hit your numbers? Why should you consider account-based marketing? What’s the benefit of choosing coachability over experience when hiring salespeople? Mark answers all these questions and more in this insightful and eye-opening talk. And if you haven’t heard: SaaStr Annual is only two weeks away,  and we’ve made it bigger and better than ever! Join 10,000 fellow founders, investors and execs for 3 days of unparalleled networking and epic learnings from SaaS legends like Jon MillerDavid SteinbergJennifer Tejada, and Eoghan McCabe. If you don’t
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Aaref Hilaly, Sequoia Capital: How to Manage Up Have Happy a Board, Even When You Miss a Quarter (Video + Transcript)

No matter how great of a company you have, no matter how successful you could potentially become, you will miss a quarter or two…or more. Aaref Hilaly, Partner at Sequoia Capital, knows the gut-wrenching feeling of missing quarters, sometimes even horribly. That being said, he’s been able to come out of it on top and built amazing companies. And at Sequoia Capital, he works with a lot of SaaS companies who’ve gone through the same. Aaref discusses best practices for managing your board of directors and how to be proactive in communicating when things go wrong. For starters, don’t manage your board (even though that’s in the title of this talk), engage with them. The board meeting is there for you, the entrepreneur, not the investors. And contrary to what we often talk about at SaaStr, always focus on product over metrics. Remember, the important thing isn’t the fact that
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David Barrett (CEO of Expensify): Good Intentions, Bad Advice: How to Keep Your Board Aligned with Your Vision (Video + Transcript)

If you want to know about dynamics between members on your board and how to get through the “valley of death,” aka getting from 0 to $1 million in ARR, then you should hear what David Barrett, CEO of Expensify, has to say. Expensify started as what was viewed as a horrible idea and turned into a successful company whose product is used by companies big and small. That was in no small part due to having a board that was aligned with David’s vision. The key to running an effective board is embracing the fact that there are many different perspectives on your board and understanding what drives each person that’s on it. For example, you should understand how a VC actually makes their money – the reality may surprise you. But despite all this talk of boards, you have to remember that while they’re important, nothing of interest
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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
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