SaaStock 2018 – personal notes and take home messages

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Dublin, here we land!

I was joining the SaaStock for the second time in Dublin. It’s the third consecutive year that this event has been organized. Last year we travelled here with our full management team and the trip was a true eye opener. We learned a lot and we made big changes to the way we run our SaaS-business. Hence there were no question if we would join this year also. But this year we – in addition to our management team – took also our Lyyti Entrepreneurs from Paris and Amsterdam with us.

Before the day #1 in SaaStock, we had already two very intensive days under our belt in Dublin. Working with colleagues from different countries is the ”salt and pepper” of my work and getting everybody into the same place is a possibility not to be wasted.

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Lyyti Management Team and International Entrepreneurs fit barely to one (big) hotel room. Well, the goal is that already next year this room is way too small.

So, two days of internal meetings around sales, marketing and roadmap (not to mention the visit at the Guinness Storehouse!) prepared us for the seminar.

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Like in Nordic Business Forum, I make notes only for myself trying to actually learn something and take my learnings into action.

This is why I believe in events, why I attend events and what I preach for: they are the most powerful medium to make the change.

Normal text are my direct notes from the content and italic is my thoughts and personal notes about the subject.

Day #1

16.10.2018


What made Zendesk successful: A journey from Copenhagen to SF and beyond

Bummer… an interview. I prefer deep dive keynotes, but let’s see how it works.

Zendesk: 500 M€ ARR. 5B€ market cap.

Success or feeling successful is not what you don’t feel often, because usually you just see more problems to solve. That’s a natural feeling for a founder.

Timing was right for Zendesk. Broken enterprise softwares everywhere. Goal was to build a product which you really like. Timing was right for technology as well. Web 2.0 just came. There were not a lot of start ups and hence no competition. They could concentrate on the product for few years. Consumer friendly!

No investments in the beginning. Just Friends, Fools and Family.

Product – market -fit

We used our own product to serve our own customers. This was the most important thing! We concentrated into critical features. We didn’t have to use customer panels, because we were our own customers!

This is what I’m trying to preach in Lyyti as well. We HAVE to be our own best users.

Eliminate all friction from the signup process. Customer didn’t have to talk to us.

”Love your helpdesk” —> first mission and mantra, because everybody hated their helpdesks.

2009 ARR 1M€. 2010 ARR 10M€. They scaled in the US during that period.  ”They have decades of history in building scalability products. They know we need to compete, but also collaborate – like Facebook and Google does.”

Entire company moved to USA and we could hire a CFO from States to help us with all legal stuff.

I wouldn’t move all the company to the US anymore. We offered something to a talent, and Facebook tripled that. But it requires at least one – if not several – founders to move there as well.

We hired our first sales person in 2010, as we had 10 000 customers. We had to move upmarket and to the big companies. We were leaving money on the table. Big companies were starting to use SaaS as well.

2011 we expanded back to Europe as competition got harder in the US.

Brand was always playful and it was good for consumers. We never had headsets in our pictures.

I like this way! I hate photo stock pictures. And I think our Steve the Octopus is pretty cool!

Culture: get diversity in the culture to avoid bias.

How to make sure that all feedback is captured and reflected in the product?

You have to build an organization to get the feedback and reflect it. It includes:

  • KAM’s
  • Product managers
  • Support team

Final decision is made by the Product Team. We are a product first company.


Get inside your buyer’s head to increase funnel conversion rates

David Skok, Managing Partner, Matrix Partners

From nine months sales cycle to shorter.

Wake up moment: They organized one event, got orders and sold for 9 millions in one day!

An event changed their world. Wow!

Buying process and buyers concerns and questions is a barrier.

Solutions?

Free trial —> study the bottle necks in the funnel. Funnels are more vendor centric than customer centric. You are asking your customer to do something in YOUR sales process. It should be other way around.

The Buyers Journey

  • Pick your partner from the station 30 min early
  • Spend time in the clothing store, just browsing
  • Sales person follows you
  • You test a sweater. Sales person interrupts you.
  • You don’t like it.

But on the other hand:

  • You enter the store in need to find something to wear quickly
  • No sales person talks to you
  • You don’t like it.

What do we want to to in sales process depends on the situation and no process is the same!

Awareness —> Consideration —> Purchase

Sales often handle the leads as they all were already in the purchasing phase.

But instead leads are as follows:

  • Awareness: 80%
  • Consideration: 15%
  • Purchase: 5%

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In awareness phase: do not SELL! Create problem, pain, discuss how other people are solving.

Find the triggers that affect your customers to find the problem.

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Buyer Personeae

  • What objectives do they have
  • What their boss’ expects
  • What is important for them
  • How do they buy
  • What is their problem
  • What review sites they are following
  • Which competitors they will evaluate

Find out what is you buyers buying process! Ask them! Find out what they are doing while they go through your buying process.

Address all decision criteria with your marketing content.

Adding human touch to your sales process makes the costs to explode.

Find the worst blockage point in your funnel. Remove friction and concerns OR motivate to go through the blockage point.

Cold calls int a Cold Outreach —> Invitation to something with value (for them!) Educational event, meet their peers, see data that is of value etc. —> Build relationship —> Build Trust

NOTE: This outlines the power of events AND importance of live events in building the sales pipe through trust and relationship.

Check Clearbit to enrich lead data in SalesForce.

Eliminate steps that have dependencies on other people in sales process!

The product is your sales person.

What is my time to WOW?

  • Mini WOW – a moment where your buyer likes what they see and continue
  • Full WOW    a moment where they want’t to buy your product

How to create WOW-moments in Lyyti for a new user?

  • Sample data
  • Event templates
  • Ready made communication plan
  • Ready made reports
  • Graphical reports
  • WE HAVE TO MAP THIS PROCESS!!

Create the easiest and shortest route to WOW and get high conversation rates. You need to get rid of the silos between sales, marketing, product and customer success and make the form the Growth Team.’


About expectation management

Since the next speaker talks about the hyper-growth, I thought to give some participant perspective about handling growth in an event.

I was attending last year SaaStr in San Francisco with huge expectations. My expectations were ruined by overselling the event. I will not join that one until I can be sure that I get what I paid for.

Sadly, same happened now in SaaStock. The Growth stage had way too little chairs and I actually missed a lot of content (that I paid for) due to overselling the event. Or at least the organizers should ask the participants to preselect their sessions and adjust the stages accordingly.


Managing hyper-growth

Interview by Jos White, General Partner, Notion Capital

Interviewed: Conor O’Loughlin, CEO and Co-founder, Glofox

How to manage the growth?

Glofox is business management software for gyms, jogastudios etc.

Deal size is around 4000USD, over 30 000 customers, US main market.

Small internal market makes you to search for global market since day one. SMB SaaS having a completely inbound channels for sales.

US customers are more visionary and future thinking, hence it is easier to sell remotely to the US market. At the beginning they supported US customers from Dublin, which was hard. Co-Founders now moving to LA, USA and hiring a COO in Dublin to run the local HQ.

Employer branding and success rates in recruitment become super important when you start growing your team. For key employees, it takes a year from the original idea or need to the moment you have a new person on board and producing.

Cross-fertilization of culture between countries.


How to generate customers on autopilot for 2018 & beyond

Eric Siu

CEO, Single Grain

Evergreen traffic engine

Website from 0 to 2M visitors in a month.

Problem is that we rely on paid adds. It’s not creative and does not separate us from others. Five steps on how to create an evergreen website traffic engine.

Step #1

Why does Wikipedia ranks so well?

Word count is growing rapidly.

(Actually I didn’t get the step one…)

Step #2

The content reusage workflow

  • If content is outdate, update it
  • If it is not relevant, re-write it

Step #3

Evergreen content brings visitors over and over again. So you are building on existing audience.

Step #4

Remember link building

Step #5

I didn’t get the point, to be honest…

Check Prive / Wheelio to get email converse rate higher.

The guy spoke so quickly (American) and run through the slides that it was actually really hard to follow and get the points.

Take home message: content that you created once, can be used many many times by updating it and redelivering it.


How to be a marketing opportunist

Kieran Flanagan

VP of Marketing, HubSpot

Growth is not linear

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What are your growth ceilings? How to break through them?

It’s first and foremost about the people. Leader’s main job is to hire and retain talented people. And best teams are diverse teams. Problems are diverse!

When you hire: Team Values, Core Skills, Technical Skills

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Tactic: use LinkedIn Recruiter

Provide remote work culture!

Setting up people for success matters (a lot).

Metrics to success should be same to all teams that contribute to the effort. And people should form cross-team teams in order to reach the goals. Full stack dream team.

Canva example: internal start ups with ”funding” aka resources.

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Five key reasons why we grew 1000% YoY

Gideon Pridor

VP Marketing, TravelPerk

Three key reasons for growth

  1. Agressive targeting: start narrow, then expand
  2. Extreme focus: Do less, don’t go for quick wins
  3. Early Outbound: Start earlier than later

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Tight definition of targets 

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  • Tight MQL definition
  • Focus on maximizing profit per customer
  • You can always sell higher than you think!

”Outbound is making a huge comeback” – but with more sophisticated way using data, social selling, etc.”

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How did they do that?

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Note: it seems that every marketer have their own podcast today…


The evolution of our customer relationships: How we acquired, nurtured and grew our customer base to 15,000 with no marketing, sales or funding

Bridget Harris

CEO, YouCanBook.me

Bootstrapped, 3M€ ARR this year, 15 people

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They had exactly the same strategy as Lyyti: serve all customers, go for quick wins 🙂

MVP eight years ago was just like Lyyti 🙂 

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Free users are not customers! Your free tool is a different product. Free users are your marketing list.

Complicated pricing confuses also the company itself.

It was great to hear another story about bootstrapped company and it was so similar to ours in Lyyti. Our problems, faults and mistakes are not unique.


Problems in event executing

In the afternoon  unfortunately the problems in running the event continued. They have an app for the schedule and you really need the schedule, since there is a lot of good content available.

But the app (which was recommended to be downloaded) gave us frequently wrong information about the schedule and hence we ended up sitting in wrong places in wrong time.

I mean, if I buy a red Volkswagen and get a green Ford, four weeks late, I will return the product. With events that is impossible but failing to deliver affects the purchasing decision for the next year. What I also don’t like is that the organizer retweets your positive feedback in Twitter but ignores the complaints. Come on, it’s customer feedback trying to help you get better!

What bothers me also, that the organizers didn’t communicate anything about the changes via the app or in Twitter.

Another issue that actually degreases the value of the presentations, is that each session is about 20 minutes, with no breaks in between. Hence the host needs to hurry people to sit down and speakers need to literally run through their presentations – usually missing the last slides. Rather 30% less speakers and 10 minutes extra to all keynotes. And funnily, on some stages the keynotes were running 10 minutes AHEAD of the schedule. So, as you thought to arrive for a good piece of information, the speaker was already ending the presentation…


How Datadog became one of the fastest growing SaaS businesses

Discussion between Olivier Pomel CEO, Datadog and Shardul Shah Partner, Index Ventures

I was actually not going to join this session, but since the app failed with the schedule third time in a row, I ended up sitting here.

Decide your pricing philosophy – are you going to be the premium vendor or price disruptor. That defines your packaging.

Find a pricing model that suites your customers: number of users, amount of activities etc. How to grow with customers if you don’t charge per user?

Key lessons about moving from single product to multi product company?

Hardest thing was to know, which advice to listen and to find your own way after all.

Not much to learn from this keynote…


Be a data-driver: Scaling analytics to fuel hyper-growth

Ernesto Ongaro

Sales Engineer, Looker

Data should be available to everybody in the company, not just C-level.

Breadth vs Depth —> rather get the big picture than dive really deep in a small operation.

First build a lasting data culture and then optimize specific process.


At the end of the first day we had a chance to visit Hubspot HQ in Dublin and meet with the Customer Success Executive. That one hour was super valuable as we had a chance to benchmark our processes.

Hubspot

Customer Success team —> only goal to prevent churn

What do they do?

Sales person own the customer and gives it to CSM team.

Onboarders just onboard and give the customer to CSM

Renewal management team. Renewal manager serves the customer when renewing the deal.

My thoughts about our situation in Lyyti

We’ve been trusting too much to our automatic renewal.

What to do with long tail customers? Only reactive support.

Segment the customers. Who goes into long tail, who gets CST and who CSM

Revenue retention for metrics for CSM

CS vs. Product: internal NPS metrics inside the product, ”CS roadblocks” logged and went through with the product managers.


Day #2 17.10.2018

Massive scale, escape velocity: The secrets behind Slack’s success

Interview

Cal Henderson CTO, Slack

Philippe Botteri Partner, Accel

Personal note: now we have a true tech nerd on the stage. CTO of one of the biggest SaaS softwares is interviewed in shorts and short sleeved shirt. And it’s like +10 celsius outside…

Notes and learnings from the interview:

You can’t build the architecture for your biggest dreams. But when you grow, you need to work with your scalability, but infinite scalability is not your first target, when you launch your product. Resources are scarce and you have to prioritize.

If your tool is considered as a commodity (meaning, that it’s an essential part of the daily life – like tap water), you have to target 100% uptime. Nothing less is not acceptable.

How to on board people?

Early hires are the most important. They create the culture. You can’t the culture yourself, but the way you, founder, behave, sets the tone for the culture. Artifacts, rituals, are very important.

How to make sure the culture stays as you grow?

CEO have to be visible and constantly repeat the most important messages over and over again. If you get sick of your message, that’s the point where most of the people say that I have heard this maybe before.

Last tips for the founders?

Build users first – business will follow, if people love your product. Be clear on what problems you are trying to solve.


Cancer, hardship, and the f*ckery of being a founder

Patrick Campbell

CEO and Co-founder, Profitwell

”Founder fun”

Guy is a two time cancer survivor, which is a merit itself. In addition to this he’s running company.

Learnings:

  • When you found a company, don’t take part-time co-founders. Everybody have to be in 100%
  • Assume that expectations are 100% miss-aligned. Then talk about them.
  • Don’t put up with bull shit, since your time is limited. In other words: don’t work with jerks. Ever. You can also choose your friends accordingly.
  • Create ”If I die” -docs that tell what to do in case you, or some other key persons, are gone.

To read: Radical Candor


Five biggest mistakes in customer success

Dave Blake

CEO, ClientSuccess

Used to run Adobe’s customer success

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Silos are bad thing from customers’ perspective

  1. Implementing customer success as a ”Fix”
  • Do not use it as a bandage

Break the silos and create team around the customers with customer based KPI’s!

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Everybody have to have empathy for the customer. Make all the leaders to live the life of a customer: search the website, read the contracts, use the products.

Customer success is not a part of the strategy. IT IS the strategy.

2. Letting your customer experience evolve organically

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  • If you don’t run this, it will run you
  • 80% CEO’s think they have superb service, 8% customers think the same

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”We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards.” Jeff Bezos.

3. Too much focus on churn prevention

  • Customer success is not churn preventers.

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”The only thing a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.” John Madden

Churn prevention is like a ER doctor trying to keep the patient alive. Customer success is more like a doctor in olympic training center trying to help the athlete to succeed.

Drive intense focus on your customers’ performance.

4. Not truly understanding your customers

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  • It’s about the customer, not you.

Understand, evangelize & deliver to your customer’s definition of…

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Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates

5. Being fixated on the negatives

  • Front line CSM have a hard job. They are always on the front line with ”red accounts”, angry customers etc.
  • Negative Churn – double negative for growth. Shift the paradigm towards the positive. Celebrate growth and renewals as much as new customers. Focus on growth. Understand your happiest customers. Understand why your customers stay. CELEBRATE SUCCESS!

The biggest growth hack of the year: Eliminating time wasted in meetings

Jessica Weisz

COO, Soapbox

Growth hack -> have better meetings

45% of meetings: no clear decision is made

What fixes bad meetings? Mindset and manners

Mindset

Rules don’t fix the problem. Be a leader and example – behave as you wish others to behave.

Meetings are not a time to chill. Coffee break is for that. Meetings are work.

Receive something from each meeting.

Manners

Most productive meetings have less than 8 people

45% of the people join too much meetings

Decline more meetings, if there is no agenda, it will be waste of your time or some other person can be there instead of you.

Speak directly in meetings.

Give feedback in the meetings. Hold people accountable in front of their peers.

Read:

  1. Give and Take
  2. Servant Leadership

Positioning in crowded markets: How to make any offering obviously awesome

April Dunford

Founder, Rocket Launch Marketing

Today almost 7000 marketing softwares in the market. How to stand out?

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Market category

First: pick your right market category. In which business are you? Can we let our customers to decide that? No. They are bad in it.

Our positioning should advantage our unique strengths. Only some features are truly differentiating. Ask from your customers, what are those. That is your secret sauce!

Your best category puts the strengths at the center.

Trends

Market vs. Trends.

CRM vs. AI

CRM is a market category, AI is a trend that is not category specific.

If you are on the right market and benefiting from the right trend, you are well positioned.

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Summary

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How to conquer Europe: Strategy for scaling B2B SaaS

Olli Nokso-Koivisto

CEO, LeadDesk

Hey, a Finnish SaaS company on stage!!

LeadDesk is number one in contact center solution. High growth (35%) with 20% profit.

Timeline

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About the same countries as Lyyti: first Sweden, then Germany, Netherlands, Norway etc. They conquered the beer drinking Europe 🙂

Startup strategy

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Learnings

People:

  • Nothing build culture like recruitments
  • Get in-house recruitment expertise ASAP! Outsourced agencies, specially abroad lead to big turnover. Get the on boarding right!
  • Customers. Early adopters love foreigners, but that’s about it. Get local people to talk with local people.
  • Language matters! Local culture matters.

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Product

  • There is a lot of features in the product, that work in one market, but create unhappiness in the other market. Like tipping in the restaurant: some countries needs that and some countries hate it.
  • Compliance as a Service: product is adjusted to the local market, laws and expectations.
  • Different countries will be in different stages. Some country is scaling, some country is a startup. They need different kind of management and steering and also from the product.

Growth

  • Initial idea was free trials and online sales. —> lot of churn. Company failed to understand that what kind of a deal you are doing initially. Average price is 20k€ ARR and nobody wanted to buy it online.
  • ”Land and expand” -strategy
  • Get advocate customers from the foreign markets!

At the end: some tips from Olli for reading.

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Interrogating the good and bad when it comes to SaaS pricing strategy

Carrie Osman, Founder and CEO, Cruxy and Company

”Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Who are my customers?

How do they calculate the ROI in their business?

Do you talk with their language, when speaking about the value?

What are the features that they truly value?

Are you pricing those features accordingly?

CFO’s will make cost based pricing.

CMO’s will give everything away for free.

How are you going to extract value

  • retention
  • upselling
  • acquisition

Once you anchored your price point, it will be very hard to change that. And market will judge you.

Retention

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Appcues

  • Underpriced – over delivering. Change in the pricing model with zero lost customers. They ”grandfathered” their customers, didn’t force to upgrade, but offered more value with higher price.

Upselling

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Mention

  • Know what your highest value customers want
  • Pricing per user was not for them, because the value was in number alerts, not in the number of users. Where the value of Lyyti’s customers lie? Is it really at the number of users

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Acquisition

Mealime

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  • Market was free app-market, but the app was paid. They reached the ceiling of potential customers willing to pay.
  • They made a big change in the pricing in 2016 and lost a lot of the MRR for a short while.
  • No idea how they actually made the money after…

What next?

  1. Where is the value and for whom? Write it
  2. Are you trying to go against the market?
  3. Execute like f**k.

Unleash your superpower: How to build a killer brand in B2B SaaS

Edward Ford, Growth Marketer, Advance B2B

Hey, a Finnish company on stage again! Cool. Torilla tavataan – let’s meet at the market place. Well, this joke opens up only to Finns… But actually we were quite many at the seminar. We are actually having a SaaS scene in Finland!

”Conversational marketing”

No more forms -lead generation. How does this work?

Hubspot – creator of inbound marketing

Helping the world to go inbound.

Now they speak only about growth. ”Help of millions or organizations to grow better.”

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Do we need to create a new category to build a killer brand? No…

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TerminusIMG_9429.JPG

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Brand is the punainen lanka of your customer story

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I hope, if you read all the way here, you got some out of these notes. Like said, they are made for myself, but if anyone gets some benefit out of the, I’m just happy to share.

After four days, we were almost exhausted. But even at the airport the spirit went up again as we met our colleagues from Loyalistic and Seidat.

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On the way home, the feeling was like this:

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No, there is only one thing left.

EXECUTION…

Vastaa

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