Yesterday I headed back for Day 3 of SaaStr Annual 2017. There was a lot of new information to take in over a short span. I certainly leveled up in SaaS and will be attending again next year. I consider it mandatory continuing education in SaaS. Here are some of my takeaways from Day 3 of SaaStr Annual 2017.
SaaStr Annual 2017: DoubleUnicorns: How Things Are Different Now. And Things That Never Change.
Domo CEO Josh James with Jason Lemkin
- Pull all effort into recruiting.
- Quickly call employee into room when another employee complains about them.
- Second time around was just as hard.
- "If we can get them on a plane we can close em" (when recruiting executives).
- Hates remote employees. Will only do it for a few people.
- Likes to get the whole company focused on sales.
- Likes cash incentives for hitting goals.
- This is a sales driven guy.
- "Sales people are complete whores. And I love them for it."
- Lots of mistakes made (common theme).
SaaStr Annual 2017: The Cavalry Finally Came: Lesson Learned Breaking Through the $5-$6m ARR Wall
Laura Bilazarian with Fred Stevens-Smith and Louis Jonckheere
- Rainforest is outbound sales driven.
- Hiring the right type of salespeople is difficult at $5-$6M ARR.
- Easy to be distracted by logos when hiring executives.
- Inbound marketing not cutting it at $4-$5M ARR. Start earlier with outbound.
- Build teams around your best people.
- Do distributed teams scale? Time zones are still a productivity problem. Cost benefit is clear (it's much cheaper). Communication is still a problem.
- SDR's are easily outsourced. Don't outsource AE's.
- "The war for talent in Silicon Valley is real."
- Remote teams tend to be more loyal.
- Classic Lemkin test: A/B test AE's. Hire two at the same time.
- Hire people who have scaled sales teams in your range before.
- Discuss board topics before the board meeting. Every company misses targets.
- Make sure you have former founders on your board.
- Involve your executives in your board meetings.
- As a founder you have to transition from doer to manager.
- VP Product becomes super important at $5-$6M ARR.
- VP People/HR is massively under appreciated.
- Hire CFO at $8-$10M ARR.
SaaStr Annual 2017: How the Best Outbound Sales Teams Are Managed
Aaron Ross moderating a panel with Ralph Barsi, Lauren McGuire & Mark Roberge
- BDR to AE ratio needs to be experimented with. Context based.
- Get BDR's to focus on how they brand themselves (LinkedIn). Social selling aspect important.
- Created a 6 tier objective plan for BDR's. Not time based. Achievement based. Carrot and stick.
- BDR's tend to get promoted to AE's within a year.
SaaStr Annual 2017: Building Your 1st Outbound Team - How To Get It Right The First Time
Aaron Ross with Ryan Donohue, Andrew Berger & Alicia Anderson
- Playing minor league baseball is just like being an SDR. It's a grind.
- Building first outbound team can take longer than expected. Answers ranged from 2-3 months, 4-6 months just to see data, or 9-12 months for Square.
- Go buy Aaron Ross' book: From Impossible to Inevitable
- Ryan Donahue is a demo junky (lol).
- Get your process down before building the team. Make sure you have the right person running the team. Hard to do.
- Email templates: Not the most important thing. The action afterwards is more crucial. Keep iterating.
- Pick up the phone. Don't just email all day.
- "The phone is the #1 tool an SDR has."
- 75% of meetings booked over the phone. (Ryan Donohue)
- First touch is email. Second touch is call. Third touch is phone call (don't leave vmesg)
- What's your rep's batting average?
- Wait a few months before putting in a comp plan on an outbound team. You need data first.
- Reach out to people who have it done it successfully before.
- Create a solid process first before hiring the outbound team.
- SDR bookends tool. Ralph Barsi
SaaStr Annual 2017: Venture-Backed CEO: Lessons Learned Inside and Outside of Silicon Valley
Promise Phelon threw it down on stage
- Tech CEO since 2005.
- Moved from Silicon Valley to Boulder in 2015 to run TapInfluence.
- Influencers are changing the world.
- Motivations of teams outside the valley are different. People motivated by family, connections, not necessarily stock options.
- Billion dollar mindset didn't work in Boulder.
- Culture clash between a Valley CEO and a Boulder CEO.
- Free lunch ain't culture. Perks have to be different.
- Stay curious, hobbies are soul, stay uncomfortable.
- Average venture investor in the valley is on 8-10 boards. Outside the valley: A lot less ego, ave of 6-7 boards, more about relationship building.
- "Most of us will not look like Mark Zuckerberg (re: fundraising)"
- Reads a book a week (WOW).
- "Part of the problem with being a CEO is you don't have time to reflect."
- Does morning pages. Best thinking happens at that time.
"Have you guys noticed I'm not a white 27 yr male from Harvard?"
@PromisePhelon throw it down!February 9, 2017
SaaStr Annual 2017: The Best of the Best: YC SaaS Founders
Sam Altman with several YC SaaS all-stars
- All on panel were in same YC batch 5 yrs ago.
- Service driven mindset (Gusto).
- What is our core philosophy and how do we retain it as we scale?
- The team you build is the company you build.
- Can you hire people that can enhance the company culture?
- Writing out values relatively early works very well. (10-20 employees)
- The more senior an exec is, the longer it will take to onboard them. About 6 mos.
- Getting the right team is key. Get rid of bad fits early.
- Focus on serving the customer.
- Measure people's net impact on the output of the company.
- CEO time allocation as the company scales is the highest leverage strength. Most people get it wrong.
- Really great retention and high NPS are big indicators of SaaS company's success.
- Learn to evaluate advice as a new CEO. Listen but make your own decisions.
- For now fundraising seems pretty good (Sam Altman).
- Scaling from $1-$10M: Be creative about your software, stick to play books for everything else. Stay even more focused.
@sama we'll get a better pic next time :)February 10, 2017