SaaStock 2019 in Dublin was a truly exciting and inspiring conference for all the ones that work in the SaaS industry. Lots of valuable insights, thought-provoking talks, and eye-opening conversations.
Apart from 2-day conference, SaaStock offers several bootcamps to dive deeper into certain organizational topics. We decided to go for 2 bootcamps namely Growth Marketing and Inbound Sales.
Compared to SaaStr Europe 2019, SaaStock Dublin seemed to be much more focused on the organization itself, management and founders. As we are co-founders at DevSkiller the topics presented were of great interest for us but if any of our team members from sales, marketing or customer success team would go to SaaStock they might not get so much out of it.
We grouped our findings in 4 areas: marketing, sales, product development, and management. Below there is a list of topics we found the most interesting and we are going to jump into in this article:
3. Your precision scorecard: The core metric you need to have for each function of your organization in order to measure performance and accelerate your growth Precision Score Card by Dan Martell (SaaS Academy)
I. SaaS Marketing
1. Voice of Customers in onboarding by Georgiana Laudi (Elevate), Tara Robertson (Sprout Social)
Title: Unlock your Voice of Customers (VoC) for Growth. The scrappy method for unlocking your voice of customers. Voice of Customers in onboarding. Growth Marketing Bootcamp
Key takeaway: Use customer research to understand The Why. Explore data mining through review sites.
Customer research – why it matters
Georgiana and Tara reminded me that we, marketers, shouldn’t rely on our guts. We are not able to guess accurately what our customers think, especially if we don’t talk with them.
Qualitative research should be done regularly in order to reveal Customer’s Why. This way you can understand what triggers them to make the decision, what are their goals and struggles.
Companies using it tend to be much more successful in terms of revenue as well as customer satisfaction.
Exploring the voice of customers can be used across various stages of funnel:
- from building awareness (brand messaging, value proposition, PR),
- acquisition (paid efforts, lead generation and nurturing),
- onboarding (customer training, product onboarding, customer education),
- to expansion (customer retention, upsell campaigns, customer health).
I enjoyed this idea:
Instead of writing your message steal it. Steal it directly from your prospects
Joanna Wiebe, Copyhackers.
There is no point in bringing new traffic if you cannot convert the leads that you bring.
The workshop concentrated on how to use VoC for Onboarding. It’s mind-blowing that:
- 75% of new users are lost within their first week
- 40-60% trial users who log in 1x and never come back
There are various ways of gaining customer insights:
- from interviews (target market, focus groups, customer interviews),
- surveys (target market surveys, customer surveys, website surveys and polls),
- mining data (Amazon, review sites, online sources)
- to social listening (competitor insights, sentiment analysis, keyword analysis).
When ………..(situation/struggle), I want to ………………. (top motivators) so I can ……………… (desired outcome)
Step by step guideline how to explore customer insights through data mining:
Step 1: Mining for Voice of Customer
- Go through review portals. Especially G2 can be helpful as they collect insights in a clear and convenient way which makes it easy to mine the data for certain customer insights
- When mining skip the details specific to your product, look at the general level
- Look through the reviews to collect the following data:
- Events/situations that cause a struggle or pain
- “I want to” motivations
- Top desired outcomes / The “better life”
- Source of review (it’s helpful to keep track where does this review came from).
Step 2: Parsing your Voice of Customer data
- For each column of mined data, add a new column with the appropriate title (Struggle/Situation, Motivations & Desired Outcomes):
- Read each entry carefully. As you read, you should see patterns emerge. Try to capture a theme for each entry. As you see new themes add them, and go back to make sure the text is the same for each (use auto-complete when possible!)
When there’s clearly more than one theme, add a new row below to include it (this will make the next step easier).
- Create a chart for each of your new columns to show top themes
Step 3: Coding your Voice of Customer
Capture the qualitative research findings gathered from mined data sources. Go through the top themes in Struggle/Situation, Motivations & Desired Outcomes and try to pick up the sticky copy that you can use.
Step 4: Applying your Voice of Customer for onboarding
Use Voice of Customer you captured and apply it to a product onboarding email campaign
Jobs to be done: A theory for understanding what motivates customers to purchase a product https://jtbd.info
Forget The Funnel Workshops:
- SaaS Value Propositions (feat. Georgiana Laudi & Claire Suellentrop)
- Audience Research for SaaS Marketers (feat. Katelyn Bourgoin)
- SaaS Marketer’s Guide to Writing Big Content Fast (feat. Joanna Wiebe)
2. SaaS Value-Based Pricing Workshop by Patrick Campbell (ProfitWell)
Title: SaaS Value Based Pricing Workshop, How SaaS companies fail in growth and scale
Who: Patrick Campbell (ProfitWell)
Key takeaway: Optimize your pricing regularly to achieve growth
Patrick and his team did a great job regarding content marketing at their stand. Throughout a whole event, they had a lot of sessions where their guests shared insights and learnings regarding SaaS industry and pricing. Their approach to building a community really stood out.
There was a lot of valuable know-how that Patrick shared. I will mention just 3 of them (you can find more valuable insights in Additional resources section)
- Optimize your pricing regularly.
In terms of adjusting pricing, the rule of thumb is to refresh it every quarter or two.
- Collect data from potential customers by focusing on just 2 elements — features and price sensitivity.
This will help you understand your customer personas. The first survey helps rank your core features to determine relative preference by customer cohort, and the second focuses on overall price sensitivity — essentially a customer’s willingness to pay for the product. Look for the details regarding the methodology in the article added to the Additional resources section.
- Offering priority support for customers can make a huge difference.
Add-on strategies are probably one of the least-used tools but have a high impact without being incredibly difficult to figure out. In most B2B software products, 20% to 30% of your customer base is willing to pay for priority support.
- SaaS Pricing Strategy Book
- Reducing SaaS Churn Book
- Article: The Price is Right: Essential Tips for Nailing Your Pricing Strategy
3. The new game-changing marketing hacks that will help you multiply ARR by Eric Siu (ClickFlow)
Title: The new game-changing marketing hacks that will help you multiply
Who: Eric Siu (ClickFlow)
Key takeaway: Paid advertising is a hamster wheel, everyone does it and it gets more expensive all the time. You need to do things differently.
I really enjoyed this session as it was very practical and full of tools, tips, and tricks. It was much aligned with what I strongly believe in, meaning content marketing and testing your approach. Below you can find the main findings:
- Content MVPs
- Long content ranks higher – top 3 more than 2k words
- Long form gets more backlinks
- Create a short form of content – if that ranks between 5 and 30 make it longer, add paragraphs and more content. When you make a simple piece of content and it starts working make it super awesome. If you have a baby just nurture it to grow up.
- Use Content Sprout Method. When there’s a great piece of content, it becomes the ‘seed.’ From the seed, we can start ‘sprouting’ new forms of content. Keep your eyes open to curate the content. If you recorded live youtube material, turn it into a couple of shorter youtube forms. Make the transcript and create a blog post out of it. Create some other forms from this content to be posted across various social media.
- Use Ahrefs Content Explorer to check how often your competitors are publishing and republishing.
- Due to changes in Google search, the number of zero click searches, and the number of paid clicks is also going up, which results in the number of organic clicks to go down.
- Test your Title page – change meta titles using Google search console. Check out clickflow for that.
- The power of free – use ubersuggest.com to review your or your competitors SEO results
- Try out 1kprojects.com which is a curated marketplace where makers sell their neglected projects and unused domains.
- Customer data platforms – one of the easiest ways to weaponize your data is hull.io. They will uncover who is visiting your website to then use outreach.io to contact them directly. Cold account marketing + dynamic retargeting
- Try out Pattern89 – marketing AI for Facebook, Instagram and Google ads. It is artificial intelligence for paid digital media that maximizes ROI, reduces costs, and enhances creative performance.
- There is a big opportunity in podcasting and video vloging, as it’s a lot less crowded place than text blogs and the numbers of users consuming such content is rapidly growing
II. SaaS Sales
1. Delivering powerful demos by Steli Efti (Close.com)
Title: Delivering powerful demos
Who: Steli Efti (CEO at Close.com)
Key takeaway: You should sell demo like a product
Key takeaway2: At the end of the day I will not remember the demo but I will know how it made me feel!!!
7 deadly SaaS Demo Sins:
1. Too many Demos
We tend to do a demo for everybody, even if they are not interested. Demos are a huge investment of time for both sides.
2. Not selling the Demo
You should sell demo like a product, sell it why it will be valuable for them. There are two main objectives for the client that you can focus on, either save time or get more money thanks to the demo. Remember to resell the demo 1-2 days before the date of the demo, so the client will remember when they need to participate in it.
3. You are confusing it for Training
Demo is a sales tool, training comes after the client buys the product. Demo is meant to demonstrate the value. Don’t show overcomplicated things because the client will not remember it at all. Don’t attempt to train people.
4. Giving long and boring Demos
60 minutes is faaaaar too long. At the end of the day I will not remember the demo but I will know how it made me feel!!!
5. Talking features instead of values
Do the work for your prospects and translate things in the system to values they understand. Don’t let the person think, they need to understand how much value they will get. People on the other side don’t pay attention to what you do.
6. Not highlighting for attention
Make sure that you have clarity what “the most important part” of the demo is. Stop for 3 second and highlight what’s truly important. Summarize key takeaways on the end
7. Ending without a strong close
Use a clear CTA. Schedule what you have to do next. Send an invite when talking to the person and tell what needs to be done.
2. Insights from 500+ SaaS companies on how to grow faster in 2019 by Elisabeth Cain (OpenView), Kyle Poyar (OpenView)
Title: Insights from 500+ SaaS companies on how to grow faster in 2019
Key takeaway: Among over 500 startups 60% of companies changed the pricing this year. 1% said that it Decreased it ARR and 99% increased performance.
To grow your company you need to know who is your client. Segmentation is super important to focus on a swimlane that will give you the biggest chance to succeed.
- Study your win-loss data and enrich it.
- Don’t over-engineer it. You need to focus on crucial metrics instead of everything.
- Align everybody to swim in one direction. If everybody knows what are the goals of the company, it’s easier to focus on crucial things.
Nail Your pricing
- In the study that we did among over 500 startups 60% of companies changed the pricing this year. 1% said that it Decreased it ARR and 99% increased performance. Try different approach in your pricing, often!
- Start conducting pricing research and interview your customers
- Designate someone in your team to own pricing
- Test a higher price (after customer have seen value) – you can try it with new cohorts
3. Your precision scorecard: The core metric you need to have for each function of your organization in order to measure performance and accelerate your growth Precision Score Card by Dan Martell (SaaS Academy)
Title: Your precision scorecard: The core metric you need to have for each function of your organization in order to measure performance and accelerate your growth Precision Score Card
Who: Dan Martell (SaaS Academy)
Key Takeaway: Implement a precision scorecard to boost your growth, use a spreadsheet and update it manually to be connected to the numbers.
How to set up the important metrics?
- Forecast targets. Have a chart to track how you are doing and check where are you going – create a diagram from Marketing and Sales etc. to forecast and check if you are on track.
- Funnel metrics – structure your metrics in a funnel, choose the ones that makes the most sense. Marketing feeds Sales which feeds Customer success. Create tension between these 3 teams. Funnel metrics let’s you know where you can impact the whole funnel.
- Assign Ownership for specific metrics, give people accountabilities for the numbers. When you are growing you should hand over the keys to be responsible for. Founder should be responsible for overall metrics, not parts of the funnel. Stop and think every month what you should assign to someone else.
- Measure Actuals – once a week measure with your team metrics to know if you are on track.
Implement a Precision Scorecard to boost your growth, use a spreadsheet and update it manually to be connected to the numbers.
4. The art of sales Hacking & deal closing by Steli Efti (Close.com)
Title: The art of sales Hacking & deal closing
Who: Steli Efti (Close.com)
Key takeaway: Ask often ‘Are you ready to buy?’ and if you hear No, ask ’Let me ask you, what do you need to be ready to buy our product?’ – ask the question until you get a response, ask early, ask often
- Followup and follow-through – followup forever until you get a response, not responding is not a rejection (it means that maybe this person is to busy or you ask for too many things). Asking for decisions creates friction, so they might leave to do something easier.
- You have to make people feel good because you are selling to people and not machines. Giving an ocean wave of information in the demo is wrong. People are overwhelmed with information and want to run away.
- When you send followup emails don’t make them feel guilty for not responding to you, make them feel ok. Try to be POSITIVE in following up.
- Champion the relationship with the potential client.
- Go for the close. Do it early and do it often, you can’t ask once. Sales is not about creating comfort. Sales is not about having a feeling.
- Try to ask a question ‘Are you ready to buy?’
- Being a fit is just a combination of questions Can I help you and Can you help me?
- Are you ready to buy? Let me ask you, what do you need to be ready to buy our product? – ask the question until you get a response, ask early, ask often. If you get information – I don’t know, dig deeper asking “what you need to do to know that?”
- Ask questions about sales expecting a YES and learn from the answer. Are you ready to buy? -> don’t raise additional complaints. When you hear NO – ask about the reason, as you would like to learn from that, thank the person for helping you with that.
- Ask them for alternatives that they are researching, ask them for budget, ask about being ready to buy.
- The demo is not a product training, it’s a demonstration of the value
- Let me ask you, we have 20 minutes, what are the most crucial things for you? If it’s too much, please prioritize it.
- Be willing to lose a client and know what are your expectations from a client. Don’t worry about moving up with the prices with current clients. If you buy a lasagna 30 years ago it doesn’t give you a birthright to buy it for the same price for the next 30 years, you would need to buy it upfront.
- The more actions a person does in emails the more emails you send.
III. SaaS Product development
1. Avoiding vanity metrics and cutting through the noise by Janna Bastow (ProdPad)
Title: Avoiding vanity metrics and cutting through the noise
Who: Janna Bastow (ProdPad)
Key takeaway: Ditch your timeline roadmap. Introduce Lean Product Roadmap.
I’ve already experienced the timeline roadmap traps with the wrong estimates within 2 months from launching. So this approach is really appealing to me,.
What’s wrong with the timeline roadmap?
Timeline roadmap is very fragile and happens to be often inaccurate. There are too many assumptions made while creating it and following it.
- you know how long each of these features is going to take. The more you put into the timeline and the further out you go, the more likely some estimates are inaccurate.
- that nothing else is going to come in and disrupt this timeline. You don’t take into account any changes on the market, new ideas coming from the customers or team, no space for iteration.
- that each of these features will work as soon as they launch. Once they are released they will work how expected and you will be able to move to the next thing.
- that each of these features actually deserves to exist! That they form part of the strategy and therefore should be codified.
Steps to take to move into Lean Product Roadmap
Joanna proposes to take the following steps to move to Lean Product Roadmap and tie it more to organizational strategy and experiment mindset.
Step 1: Set your product vision
Joanna suggests using the following framework to set the product vision:
For (target customer)
Who (statement of need or opportunity)
The (product name) is a (product category)
That (key benefit, reason to buy)
Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
Our product (statement of primary differentiation)
Step 2: Map out your objectives.
Use outcome-based goals that are tied to your company strategy. Having clear objectives will keep everybody on the same page.
Step 3: Change out your timeline for time horizons.
Think in terms of current, near term and future. The future column is less about specific initiatives, but more around outlining the problems that you think need to be solved in order to fulfil your vision, but still need to be validated.
- Presentation available at: https://www.prodpad.com/blog/avoid-pitfalls-vanity-metrics/
- Article: Growing up Lean: Lean Strategies for Maturing Products
IV. SaaS Management
1. Driving disruptive growth in the feedback economy by Leela Srinivasan (SurveyMonkey)
Title: Driving disruptive growth in the feedback economy
Key takeaway: GIG (Growth, Impact, and Goals) framework for running 1:1 feedback sessions.
Feedback sessions are crucial to hear all the voices and make the change. The framework that SurveyMonkey is using sounds interesting as it brings more context into feedback meetings.
Why did SurveyMonkey change their approach to feedback sessions?
Leela shared some insights on how SurveyMonkey conducts quarterly feedback sessions between the employee and their managers. They developed the framework to address their employees’ need to have more productive and frequent conversations. Employees were expecting meaningful conversations with a focus on how they could develop and improve their performance as well as their impact on the organization.
How does SurveyMonkey collect feedback?
Prior to a GIG (Growth, Impact, and Goals) meeting with their managers, employees are encouraged to answer a few questions to guide the conversation. Below you can find the questions they use:
- What was my impact last quarter?
- What could I have done differently to have a greater impact?
- How did I contribute to the success of others?
- How have I made progress on a professional growth goal?
- What will I do this quarter to have an impact?
- What help do I need to accomplish my goals?
These questions focus on the impact the employee has made on the team, organization, product, or culture, and what they can do to have a greater impact and further their career goals in the quarter ahead.
2. The life-changing art of letting go by David Okuniev (Typeform) and Joaquim Lecha (Typeform)
Title: The life-changing art of letting go
Key takeaway: Have clear expectations on who you are employing.
David and Joaquil had an interesting conversation about hiring a new CEO, setting expectations and what really counts in terms of hiring a new person for the team. The two most important things I took from that conversation are:
- Clear expectations whenever you are employing somebody,
- Three most important traits to look for when employing somebody (whether it’s CEO or any other job position):
- Trust and belief in the company,
- Been there done that (practical experience),
- Ambitious but able to work with.
3. OKR Objective Key Results by Jan Marius Marquadt (COYO)
Title: OKR Objective Key Results
Who: Jan Marius Marquadt (COYO)
Key takeaway: OKRs operationalize the strategy and can drive the team toward the same goal but you need to be cautious when setting them up.
Objective Key Results are on my list for some time now. Jan shared quite a few very practical tips on what to take into account when introducing them. Below you can find the ones that seem to be the most important:
- In order to introduce OKRs the company needs to have its strategic goals set as well as metric ready. It helps a lot if the organization is already data-driven.
- When setting the results avoid no/yes key results.
- Break the results weekly and not set it for the whole period.
- Stretching goals is fine, but rather not in the beginning. Begin more realistic, based on your current trend.
- Include long-term goals in OKRs
- Be careful of transferring objectives on the individual level, it might be better to keep them on the team level.
- Take into account that the planning process takes time. OKR cycle usually consists of the following steps: company level planning, status report, retro, review, 3 months period. Jan shared how it works in his company. The planning cycle looks as follows:
- 2 weeks in advance share the company objectives
- 1 week for departments to come up with ideas and the ways they can achieve them
- Management review of departments proposals
- Then another week of rearranging
- Measure what matters by John Doerr
3. Stakeholders instead of shareholders: putting people first and growing sustainably by Natalie Nagele (Wildbit)
Title: Stakeholders instead of shareholders: putting people first and growing sustainably
Who: Natalie Nagele (Wildbit)
Key takeaway: Having long working hours might not be the most efficient way.
Natalie opened my eyes that sometimes less is more. As an entrepreneur, I’m spending my time either in the office or thinking about the company and opportunities to grow. It means that my brain is working all the time, analyzing or thinking over something (apart from doing a lot of operational and management tasks). The discussion with Natalie made me think that actually there is a way to do it differently.
She shared her experience with four day, 32-hour work week as a way to get meaningful work.
The quality of work has gone up. The ability to think has gone up. The satisfaction in your personal life has gone up. It makes the whole team concentrate on what really matters.
There are a lot of questions that we don’t ask ourselves and are of utmost importance because they influence our day to day operations, our effectiveness and time. Natalie mentioned the following questions:
- What communication needs to be asynchronous?
- Which communication needs to be in person?
- Where are we wasting time or why are we having these meetings?
- Why are we doing this? Why are these people in the same project together?
And many more. They are a great way to push ourselves to be more thoughtful.
- Book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
4. The psychological impact of entrepreneurship. Design your life & company for sustained success by James Ski (Sales Confidence)
Title: The psychological impact of entrepreneurship. Design your life & company for sustained success
Who: James Ski (Sales Confidence)
Key takeaway: Never put anything above your health and wellbeing.
However obvious this takeaway might be it’s so true.
James in his vivid and inspiring presentation made a great point about appreciating our health and wellbeing along with finding time to care for ourselves. We often push taking care of our health for later when we have more time, when we finish this important project, when we conquer that market.
His following words stuck in my head:
- Enjoy your life, find pleasure where you can, but never put anything above your health and wellbeing.
- One positive step you can make towards wellbeing is staying off social media at the weekends. Put your phone away! – loving this one!
He also made the point that wellbeing isn’t just for execs. It’s for everybody and we, as entrepreneurs, should also take care of people in that sense.
5. Panel discussion: How to address tech’s ongoing mental health catastrophe
Title: How to address tech’s ongoing mental health catastrophe
Key takeaway: Support your employees in their wellbeing
First of all, I was shocked when Joe Kranicki said: “49% of founders have a clinically-diagnosed mental health issue.”
Secondly, think about your employees’ wellbeing, not only their performance review (such as metrics and KPIs). Talk with your employees. Ask them how they are doing. Keep it in mind, at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own mental health.
Finally, they also mentioned that most founders operate at a very high pace. Sometimes you don’t realize that other people work at different paces. Think about it.
Did you attend SaaStock in Dublin? Share your experience