Love him or hate him, Nick Saban is the most successful college football coach of the current generation. Winner of 3 out of 4 straight national championships.
And how often is he recruiting? Every. Single. Day. In fact, every single day he and his team go into their Recruiting War Room, and analyze every single possible recruit coming up the next four years. And he seals the deals himself. All season long, off-season. 50/52 weeks a year, every day.
I’m going to suggest to you that, at least from Initial Traction until Initial Scale (say $1m ARR until $10m ARR) — this is the single most important improvement you can make to your SaaS company: To recruit every single day. Or 20% of your time. The equivalent of one full day a week.
Later, when you are bigger, you can still do the same, but you’ll have more help Continue reading "Post-Traction, You Need to Spend 20% of Your Time Recruiting"
I get sent this resume to review all the time. Director+ of Sales at Slack / Zoom / DropBox / Pick Your Brand Name SaaS Company. Took Hot Start-Up from $0 to $30m as VPS from Day 0. Was there “early” through IPO and did amazing things.
That all sounds impressive, for sure. But were they great? Or just lucky?
The thing is, it’s actually hard to know on the surface. Because it’s not ARR growth or even an IPO alone that determines if a VP of Sales him or herself is great. Because so many people were involved in getting Salesforce to $20,000,000,000 in ARR. It’s really how well they did based on a situation. Come into a #2 player and turn it into #1? That’s kind of amazing. Come into Salesforce at $2 billion and help it get to $5 billion? I mean, that’s great … but … Continue reading "That Super-Successful VP of Sales. Great? Or Just Lucky?"
Recruiting is tough. I certainly don’t do it well enough. But to be a great CEO, you need to find a way to force yourself to be a great recruiter.
Let me share some learnings, and what I do now to force myself to be a better recruiter. And what I wish I’d done better as a SaaS CEO:
Force yourself to interview 30 candidates for each VP position. Great things will happen if you do. First, you will budget a ton of time for recruiting. You’ll have to, to get through 30 interviews. Second, you’ll force yourself to spend more time tracking and managing candidates. And third, you’ll be less
There’s a phenomenon, a type of SaaS company, that I think if you are scrappy, if you can make things happen as a founder — that you need to be careful not to become. It’s the Bootstrapped-to-Death Start-up.
I’ve known quite a few over the past 7 years, and each and every one is a bit of a slow-motion train wreck disguised as a modest success.
The basic scenario is this: By Hook or By Crook, after 2-3 years, they get themselves to $1m-$2m, in ARR, with no capital at all, no investors except themselves.
Now if you can get there in 12-18 months, that’s great. 24 months is probably OK, but at the edge for most people. Or if it’s a semi-mythical lifestyle business, Continue reading "Don’t Accidentally Bootstrap Yourself to Death"
2020 — the Strangest of Years in SaaS and Cloud. Global pandemic, economic destruction and yet … Cloud is on fire.
So it’s time now to start thinking about how to help the team for next year. Your job is to help.
What are some things you can do that are actionable? A few ideas:
Hire dedicated sales ops. Many of you will have little to no dedicated help in sales operations. Who’s making sure the reps have the right collateral? Getting routing the right leads? Are being trained properly? Are being paid properly? If that’s you, or your VP of Sales, or even your VP of Marketing … that’s a bad use of time. Hire a director+ of sales ops to take the administrative side of sales off the plate of folks that should opening and closing.
I know we’ve hit a number of these points individually before on SaaStr, but after getting asked about the top mistakes hiring your first sales team so many times over the years, I thought it would be worthwhile to assemble a Top 10 List.
Because it seems like so many of us just make these mistakes again, and again. And again. Make fewer of them and you’ll scale faster with less stress.
Here’s my Top 10 list:
#1. You hire a sales rep to sell before you can prove you can do it yourself. You have to prove it’s sellable first. You can’t outsource this. Yes, you may be terrible at sales. But you are the CEO. You know the product cold. You can do it. Or you need to find a way to do it. More here.
#2. You hire a VP of Continue reading "The Top 10 Mistakes Made in Hiring Your First Sales Team"
The time has arrived. Following much anticipation, we just released the fullspeaker lineup and agenda for SaaStr Annual at Home, taking place very soon on Sept 2-3. I’m super proud of the team for putting together this gathering for 50,000 community members next month so that we could bring you the best in class speakers of leading SaaS experts. Plus, we’re doing, even more, to bring you virtual networking to make sure you can meet your fellow community members.
If you’ve ever attended a SaaStr event (digitally or in-person), you know that the key difference between SaaStr and other events is the caliber of speakers and content. We’re giving our community access to the very best speakers, who are all committed
Money matters. Money is part of why we do this, maybe more in the early days than later. It’s not just about building software and the journey. It’s about turning your shares from $0.00001 into … something.
So when should you sell your company — if ever? Especially, if things get a little tougher, selling may seem like a valid option, if you do have options.
You’ll know when the market has passed you by, when you’re no longer competitive, when you just can’t recruit the right team to win anymore.
But … be careful to not let exhaustion and emotion cloud your thoughts here. Especially if you have happy customers and are growing:
First, and more importantly, bear in mind good acquisition offers are rare.
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 during pitches, 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
Recently I was catching up with a good friend who used to be CEO of an enterprise-y SaaS social networking company — and the usage and engagement numbers of his business were just awful.
Customers bought because they thought their organizations needed this functionality, and so they wrote the checks for Year 1, and even Year 2. But the end-user usage just never appeared …
In SaaS, it actually takes until Year 3 for your customers to churn out from low engagement / low usage.
The reason is as follows:
Year 1 – the enterprise buys, but often doesn’t even fully deploy until month 6-9, or sometimes even longer. So the buyer really doesn’t even have any success metrics going into the first renewal.