Don’t Make Anyone “Head of Sales/Marketing/Engineering/Whatever” in SaaS. At Least, Not For Too Long.


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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A little while back, I gave a great SaaS Founder CEO a Gift. A real gift. This founder CEO was at about $1m in ARR, doing well, but with only a smidge of angel funding and limited resources. And I gave him an insanely great VP of Sales candidate.  An amazing fit for his company, his target ACV, his lead velocity and structure. And let’s be clear:  the CEO was incredibly lucky to get this candidate.  Not because the company wasn’t a great, cool company.  But because the company wasn’t really big enough, funded enough, with enough going on to really attract a candidate of his caliber (at that time). Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 9.31.42 PM But like any candidate, this VP of Sales wasn’t perfect.  He was an up-and-coming candidate and had the full package, but it was his first time to really own it all. The CEO saw it … almost.  He hemmed and hawed.
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Everything is Sort of the Same at a Given ACV (Annual Contract Value)


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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As you try to hire up for your SaaS company, you’re going to be faced with a lot of choices and trade-offs.  No hire is the perfect package.  Do you take a risk on someone a little more junior than you’d like?  Someone from a company a little larger than you’d like?  Someone from a very different industry?

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I don’t have all the answers here. But there’s one thing I can tell you in SaaS, at least:  Almost Everything Except the Product Itself is Sort of the Same at a Given ACV (Annual Contract Value) Level. By that I mean:

Why It May Take You 12-18 Months to Hire a Great VP, Sales — Period. And What to Do About It.


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




We’ve talked a lot about hiring a VP, Sales.  It’s just such a critical accelerate-or-decelerate decision for a post-Initial Traction SaaS company.   We’ve talked about the 48 Different Types of VP SalesWhat a VP Sales Really Does, and a Script to Use When Interviewing a VP Sales. But even armed with all that, I’ve gotta admit, I’ve helped several friends hire a VP Sales recently and even with that we have barely batted .500 In those cases, no “big mistake” hire was made.  But still, some hires didn’t work out.  It took me a while to figure out why.  In one case, one of the investors thought it was just too early, too hard to get a great VP Sales — in this case, at a $6m in ARR, growing 100% YoY, kick-arse SaaS company.  To that, I say — Rubbish.  Joining a medium-hot SaaS start-up with
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Why Lead Velocity Rate (LVR) Is The Most Important Metric in SaaS


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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One thing that is great in SaaS, from a 20,000 foot perspective at least, is You Can See The Future. It’s the benefit of a recurring revenue stream in a B2B model.  If you did $100k last month, and have grown 6% a month each month for the last 12 mos, I can pretty much say you’ll be a $2m+ ARR business in the next twelve months or so. The thing is, sales is variant, and sales pipelines have big data quality issues — and worse, sales as a metric is a lagging indicator.   In fact, your monthly sales tell you about the past.  Pipelines are cr*p for predicting the future.  Pipeline for This Month is useful, but still dependent on how various reps get probability right.  Pipeline for Next Quarter is almost useless for most SaaS start-ups, even once you get pretty big.   And actual sales are
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Knowing — and Sharing — Your Zero Cash Date


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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One of the most important operating metrics in your SaaS start-up, if you aren’t predictably cash-flow positive, is your Zero Cash Date (“ZCD”). You hear a lot about SaaS metrics, but this one doesn’t often come up.  It should, and should be very near the top of the list of core metrics. Your Zero Cash Date is the most likely date, at your current spend/burn, that you will run out of cash. Many start-ups don’t track this religiously, or with 100% certainty, and just as importantly, don’t always share it with every single one of your investors — and your employees. I didn’t track it as carefully in my first start-up, but it was the #1 metric for my first investor in Adobe Sign / EchoSign.  For good reason.  Once I tracked it super-carefully, I found it super-helpful.  It aligned everyone in the company, and all the investors (including F&F),
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A Simple Commitment Test For You And Your Co-Founders


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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As we’ve talked about before, the great thing about SaaS, is it compounds.  Once you have something, it builds on itself.  But it takes time.  It takes 7-10 years to build something real. If you are reading this, you’re probably up for that 7-10+ year commitment, assuming you’re fortune enough to get there. >> But what about your prospective co-founders? Are you all sufficiently committed enough to make it in SaaS, over the extended term?  You guys can talk about it.  And say all the right things. Here’s the thing: do you know for sure?  As Mark Suster recently wrote,
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The #1 Reason SaaS Companies Stall Out at $15m-$20m ARR


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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Part of my job when I invest in a start-up is to get folks excited about the company.  It’s not that hard.  Because I am genuinely excited.  Or I wouldn’t make the investment.  And part of the picture I try to paint for the The Next Investor is where they’ll be in 12-18 months. E.g., “Well, MaestroQA is at $5m ARR and has grown 14.20309% a month for the past 5 months and is completely changing the way a $50 billion market does …” [numbers not actual, just for the sample anecdote]. If the growth is there, the
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Doing 5, 6 or 7 Figure Deals? Don’t Forget the Services Revenue


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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If you’re doing SaaS for the first time (or even the second), the whole idea of charging for “Services” may seem an anathema.  It sure did to me.
  • If your product is so easy to use that you barely need sales people, why in the world would you need to charge for implementation?  For support?  For training and engagement?
  • And isn’t it a bit unseemly to charge for services?  Doesn’t it sort of say your product is Old School?  SAP-level clunky?

10 Tips To Avoid SaaS Burnout


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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Burnout is a real risk in SaaS.

Not usually in the early days.  But as time marches on — It’s a huge risk.  

One piece of “evidence” — a lot of fairly successful SaaS startups all sell at about the same point in time … about 5 years in. Because the founders get just too burnt out around Year 4 … and as Year 5 rolls in, they’re running a bit on fumes, and … they sell.  Or take a bad venture deal.  Or just plain start to give up a little.  Often, as it’s just finally getting good.

My Top 10 suggestions to avoid long-term burn-out:

  • Hire that Extra VP — a True Owner. Don’t try to save a few nickels here. You’re responsible for everything as it is. But you have to own less as you scale. Find 1 or 2 or 3 truly great VPs that Continue reading "10 Tips To Avoid SaaS Burnout"

Why You’ll Need Just About $3,000,000 to Build Your First Real Sales & Marketing Team


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr


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Every week, I meet with several entrepreneurs, often bootstrapped or close to it, who fit the following sort of model:
  • Gotten to Initial Traction (~$1m-$1.5m ARR), or getting close to it, or a bit beyond; and
  • With nice growth (>=100% YoY); and
  • Company isn’t really burning much cash because
  • The CEO basically is the VP of Sales and Revenue and Customer Success, with maybe a junior resource or two helping.
And they realize, now that they’ve gotten here, that — it’s time to Go Bigger: