Here we go again 😉

It’s my 3rd time @SaaStr annual, and here I am again sharing my notes on Medium. Simple, rough notes, and anyone is invited to contribute, add comments and reframe it. If you’re tuning in, feel free to tweet at me or leave a comment 😉

Phil Fernandez opening SaaStr Slides.

Phil Fernandez, @Marketo : Tem Things I Would do Even Better If I Did it Again

  1. CRO should own the whole sales lifecycle. Should own acquisition, growth, cross-sell, success, renewals. Marketing should be separated, but demand gen must be unified under revenue ops;
  2. Chief People/HR Officer: Hire early. Do not outsource.
  3. Think about social responsibility early on. Foster a culture of giving back, volunteering, helping the world as soon as possible.
  4. Charge for services from customer #1: Creating professional services early creates better services and happier customers. If you delay, you end if an unstructured program.
  5. World Class Rev Ops/Sales Enablement: Rev Ops is not SFDC administration. It’s understanding the business and taking a data driven approach. Should own training, demand gen, acquisition, renewals;
  6. Focus on continuous ARPU Expansion: Don’t build large, monolithic products. Understand usage and have clear packaging, designed expansion paths. Have quotes biased towards incremental sales.
  7. Incubate new product initiatives: Don’’ do half hearted atttempts. Don’t “test waters” and have service/support unprepared. Specialize, invest, do it right. Dedicate resources and plan investments. Have separate quotas, tie success to company wide incentives. Read the book Geoff Moore’’ Zone to Win.
  8. Constant tech renewal: Keep your IT up to date. Don’t let it become “tech debt”. Renew your team’s skillset. Continuously feed research and value technical prowess. Consider M&A as a refresher for It.
  9. Always be seeking more TAM: Don’t stay confortable with initial TAM. Focus on business development early. Have a clear strategic plan, and make a priority to the organization to enter new markets.
  10. Beware the clock during scale-up: Phil said that he played the clock wrong. Entered 2015 needing to add U$50m in RAMPED quota capacity. Needed at least 10 new sales managers just to hire new reps. Have a formal long term planning proccess at $50m ARR. Have clear ramp up plans a budgeting. You’ll never be able to catch up if you don’t watch the clock.

Re-imagining the workplace of the future with @stewart from #slack

  • Almost all the growth has been — people like it and recommended it…
  • 6 Million monthly active users;
  • Disruption is brutal, and the organization needs to remain adaptable;
  • Slack is part of a fundamental shift. Email is like “TCP”, Slack is a communication enabler. It can replace a lot of legacy stuff.
  • We don’t track time spent like a consumer company. We want people to focus on communication and see communication as a part of the work. We don’t care about how much time they spend in.

  • I see Alexa skills for Slack someday. Voice interfaces are improving, and there’s a lot of stuff to be learnt from how it will come to the workplace;
  • An IPO is the most probable outcome for us, but not anytime soon.

Moving from B2C to B2B And loving it! @Justin Kan — Atrium:

B2C Lessons

  • Success meands riding a big wave. Success is out of your hands alone.
  • Hard to figure out the second act;
  • When you ask consumers what they want, it’s a shot in the dark;
  • Biggest companies are all B2C;
  • Network effects;
  • Outcomes are lottery;
  • No willingness to pay

B2B Lessons

  • Atrium makes legal services for startups/enterprises easy;
  • Succes depends mostrly on you, no need for big waves;
  • You know if it’’ working if people buy;
  • Customers actually know what they want;
  • Willingness to pay;

Product Principles for Fast Growing Companies — Intercom @Des Traynor

  • Intercom reached 50m in ARR in 3 years;
  • “The essence of strategy is deciding what no to do”;
  • Awesome work misaligned with conpany goals is not a good idea. It confused the market;
  • Decisions must highlight the company’s principles;
  • Look for the principles behind feature integrations. Understand the why behind frequent requests;
  • Features must be feasible, desirable and viable. Don’t solve small, rare problems. Focus on the big and frequent ones;
  • Stop when: you can’t innovate, the next step involves a very complex workflow, you don’t want to compete with Amazon, Fb, Google, etc.
  • Not too big, not too small. Focus on building something small that matters;
  • When starting think cupcake, not wedding cake;
  • Product strategy: Fight for a mission. Intercom’s goal is to make internet businesses personal.
  • Strategy needs opinions and values;
  • Align product + marketing + sales, don’t let them operate isolated;
  • Iterate and accept failures. Have clear KPIs to validate. Every product piece should have a revenue hipothesis.
  • In SaaS, your new feature will eitheir fail or get copied. Everything becomes table stakes over time. The new product moats are: becoming a platform, building a community, creating a brand.

Finding Product Market Fit: @Peter Reinhardt — Segment

  • Peter went to hospital twice, panic attacks before the PMF Stage;
  • Always felt like they were almost there, and struggled a lot around 2012;
  • During this stage, extend your runway. Be a cockroach;
  • Build, launch and test several ideas. Odds are low, be able to iterate until you find something. Become a CockroachUnicorn 😉
  • 3 steps:

1) Deconstruct category leaders;

2) Figure out bad fit;

3) Figure out good fit;

Deconstruct Category Leaders:

  • Leaders are huge, 10x bigger than their closest competitor. Example: Salesforce;
  • Category leader get the best, biggest customers. Network happen effects and they become a platform;
  • Platform/Category Leader = $100m ARR, $1b TAM;


  • Search for the first $1m ARR, only 1 out 5 companies get there. It’s hard. ButPMF once you figure it out once, you learn a lot. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t find it.
  • Segment started as an education assistant for classrooms. Clearly it was not PMF, although they thought they were fooled by themselves. No adoption, got mislead by sunk costs. Raised U$600k. Pivoted;
  • Picked a vague interest in analytics, focused on that. Started coding without talking enough with customers. People curious about the product is not PMF. Spent $0.5m, had nothing to show for;
  • Released an open source library, 500 lines long, that integrated several analytics stuff. Library adoption was interesting. Nobody cared about their analytics solution, but they used the library, and liked it. The project was getting several stars on Github. Somebody said:

“This could be a big business!”

  • Built a landing page, put it up on HackerNews, waited. Got a lot of leads, people really wanted to get access to the beta. This isn’t PMF yet. They were searching in the dark for the next features. Launched with 7 integrations, people started sending pull requests on Github with new integrations.
  • Customers don’t care about your vision. They want you to solve a problem.
  • PMF feels like steping on a landmine;

How to Create a 50m ARR Inbound Revenue Machine — @Mike Volpe, from Hubspot, @Justyn Howard, SpreadSocial

  • SproutSocial is a Social media management platform, and Analytics. They also offer an employee advocacy product. Free Trial, content marketing inbound funnel;
  • Growing outbound team, hiring SDRs/BDRs, targeting Fortune 500;
  • Avg 10k new trials a month. Sales reps support trial proccess, removing doubts and qualifying leads. Reps focus on helping user achieve real value. Reps are not focused on demos, focus on business goals/results;
  • Customers from $100/month to $10k’s;
  • ACV started at U$200/y, and evolved over time. Competitors offer free solutions, but they were anchored. Over time they added functionality and increased pricing which improved unit economics;
  • SMB has lower dollar and logo churn and the solution for them was not focusing on logo churn and focusing on expansion/upsell. SproutSocial focuses on great fit customers and looks for room to grow their adoption in these accounts. Getting bellow 1.5% logo churn is tough and gains are minimal. At Hubspot, to improve here the focus was on building paid add ons. On the IPO revenue retention was ~78%. 5 quarters later they got to 100% dollar retention;
  • Pricing too low was a big mistake. Up to current date, Justyn still considers it too low. In SaaS you focus on CAC/LTV. But these metrics hide the valuable information;
  • Segment the team, segment customers and leads. Sales reps, Ad campaigns, everything. Once they cut advertising spend by 70% and focused on some segments and kept the same results.
  • That’s all for today folks 😉 see you tomorrow!

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Stay tuned 😉

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