A stellar day at #Saastock16

What a great day we had at Saastock.

We were greeted with coffee and t-shirts — the way to our hearts. The team transformed the RDS into a magical techno-forest. We had plants, flowers and of course, charging stations.

Des Traynor of Intercom kicked off the morning on the Playbook Stage and spoke insightfully about product first companies. He took us on a journey back in time, we saw old school coding, floppy disks and Salesforce circa 1999. He spoke about a pivotal time in SaaS-history, when designing with the user in mind was a revolutionary concept.

Des spoke about how companies can differ depending on what their vision is:

Sales first companies, who work on what will sell and then they build it. Marketing first companies, who create a buzz and then build, and then there’s technology first companies.

Product first companies, like Intercom and Stripe to name a few, obviously, but the product first, that is their priority, it is the lens through which they see all their problems.

Des noted two major trends in Saas:

  1. The market is grown fast
  2. The go-to market has evolved

We have now moved from buy before you try to trying before we buy.

Des spoke about the elements that make a super saas product it has to have these three components:

  1. Desireability — Does anyone want it?
  2. Viability — Can it make money?
  3. Feasability — Can it be done?

Two out of three of these simply won’t cut it.

Next up we had Peter Reinhardt of Segment, Peter spoke about finding product fit, something him and his pals at Segment struggled with at the beginning.

Peter spoke a lot about failure, and shared some scary stats for any Saas company to swallow, but he also spoke about overcoming these obstacles.

He talked us through his own experience of searching for that explosive moment when they know they had a market for their product. He and his team had fooled themselves with tiny glimmers of hope and convinced themselves this was product market fit — it wasn’t.

They eventually got that “landmine moment”.

Over on the Operator Stage we really enjoyed Bastiaan Janmaat of DataFox.

Bastiaan shared some stellar sales tips for all members of Saas teams — not just those in sales.

He explained that you don’t need mountains of data to understand prospective customers, you can get great insights by simply chatting to your sales team. Ask them questions about what they want to hear when chatting sales, things like multiple offices and sponsorship at events all give sales people those warm fuzzy feels.

He also spoke about the importance of personalisation, what you think is a great line, probably isn’t. Bastian used to use the line “congrats on your fundraising…” frequently, until he made his own fundraising announcement and received hundreds of emails and calls. It was the worst day of the year to try and speak to him.

“No thanks” is probably the dreaded answer that sales teams get, however Bastiaan reckons there’s value in it. With a no thank you your sales team can now stop investing time in this person. You also more than likely will get an answer; “no thank you, we have just signed up for____ for the next year.” This way you get a timeline and can follow up with them at a future date.

Bastiaan is a fan of account based marketing — think of it as fishing with a spear rather than a net. After the team decide on approx 100 tier one accounts they start a marketing plan activities like LinkedIn advertisements targeting these companies about 30 days in advance of contact. This way they have probably heard of you, you’re not starting blank and you seem much bigger.

Other marketing and sales activities Bastiaan is a fan of is sending gifts like books, t-shirts and doughnuts as well as hosting casual leadership dinners in their office.

I don’t think you can get a better lunch than we had at Saastock.

We had it all — great company, delicious food, a relaxed setting and some serious tunes thanks to the in-house DJ.

After the chilled out time outside we came back to the Playbook Stage for lessons from the saas-greats. We got a peek inside the data-driven marketing playbooks of HubSpot, GoCardless and Idio.

The panel discussed the importance of having specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Nicola Anderson VP Marketing at GoCardless explained their KPIs: Sign-ups, qualified leads, MRR, churn rate and LTVs. One of her own personal KPIs is cost per acquisition.

Lincoln Murphy taught us about what customer success looks like, maybe more importantly what customer success is not:

Customer Success is not:

  • Just a department
  • Customer Support
  • Account Management
  • Happiness or Design
  • Churn Mitigation
  • Customer Hand-holding
  • ‘Checking in’ with customers

As newbies to the world of saas we were extremely interested to hear Christoph Janz and Nick Franklin on the 8 Dos and Don’ts of Saas Startups

  1. Don’t give away too much too cheaply. Increase your prices — you don’t ave that much to lose
  2. Don’t assume that because you are growing by x% in the first year that you will be the same in year two
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel, leverage what’s already out there
  4. Don’t mistake latent demand for product market fit. Think segway!
  5. Don’t screw up your fundraising
  6. Do everything you can to win the US market
  7. Don’t end up in the Saas graveyard of low LTV and high CAC
  8. Don’t blow your seed round on ads. Invest in your product.

Some real food for thought here for Saas companies of all sizes.

Did you attend? What was your favourite lesson from the day?

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