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SaaStr 2017: My takeaways from day 3

SaaStr 2017: My takeaways from day 3

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.


 DoubleUnicorns: How Things Are Different Now. And Things That Never Change | SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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

 The Cavalry Finally Came: Lesson Learned Breaking Through the $5-$6m ARR Wall, SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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, SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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, SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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, SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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.

SaaStr Annual 2017: The Best of the Best: YC SaaS Founders

 Sam Altman with several YC SaaS all-stars, SaaStr Annual 2017 - Paubox 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.

SEE ALSO: My Takeaways from SaaStr Annual 2017 Conference (Day 1)

SEE ALSO: My Takeaways from SaaStr Annual 2017 Conference (Day 2)


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