Every year we look forward to connecting with and learning from the SaaS community. SaaStr Annual 2020 recently brought together dozens of industry leaders to share their thoughts on the trends and challenges that impact their business. There were a few sessions that really stood out to me and left a lasting impact. Let’s relive the most memorable sessions from SaaStr Annual 2020!
The earliest session that stood out to me featured Zack Johnson and Molly Sand discussing factors to consider when investing in your team. In the SaaS community, it’s no secret that your team is your most valuable resource. This has only become more crucial as teams adopt remote working. Molly went on to outline 5 factors her team measures while doing so.
This may go without saying but it is critical to just measure engagement in some way. SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics are two free options companies can use to survey their employees. Doing so provides a temperature check on your team and a sense of overall engagement. This type of evaluation also helps you to understand where to prioritize resources when investing in employee happiness.
Another key area to focus on is how you’re staffing your team. As the industry changes, your workforce needs to change with it. This can involve increasing staff in one area while decreasing staff in another. Look at metrics like sales volume, overtime pay, and billable hours to get a sense of where these changes should be made. The goal is to optimize your team to meet the changing demands of your customers.
It’s very important to understand diversity and inclusion. There are a number of tools that allow your team to measure relevant metrics like career progression across different segments of your workforce. Make sure you’re answering the question “How do we make sure everyone is getting the same type of feedback and growth opportunities?” Ensure everyone in your organization feels valued, heard, and empowered.
Companies often believe manager metrics should belong to HR but they should really empower managers. Enabling managers to compare themselves to others helps them understand where they stand and where they can improve. Zack believes this type of analysis will drastically increase in the coming years. Managers displaying empathy and an understanding of their team are becoming more and more crucial.
Even during the age of COVID, companies must invest in their teams. The ability to link softer metrics like how employees are feeling is also becoming more valuable. This helps managers justify the investment they put into their people.
This presentation makes clear just how important it is to invest in your team. Especially in SaaS, they are the driving force behind your company and will shape your customer’s perception. At OpFocus, “People First” is a core value that drives us to create meaningful relationships in every interaction.
The second presentation that stayed with me after the event was “The Secret Playbook to Building a 50-million ARR company” featuring Sumir Chadha, Abhinav Shashank, and Susan Slater with West Bridge Capital. It looked at the talent available to SaaS companies in India and how to invite foreign workers into your company culture. With more teams becoming global, it’s valuable to consider how to effectively leverage foreign workers.
Abhinav Shashank began by describing that “India is on the rise and has an expanding talent pool that companies are tapping into” The number of people in India pursuing product and software idea’s is truly incredible. With substantially lower costs, workers from India enable a SaaS company’s investment to go five times as far as it would in the United States. This makes it a goldmine for SaaS companies seeking to lower costs.
What really stayed with me is the importance of including foreign workers in your company culture. Many teams tend to treat these workers as contractors that are only spoken to for new projects or updates. Instead, treat them as true members of your team and include them in the brainstorming and decision-making process. Tap into the talent and ideas they offer and treat them as you would any other coworker.
Abhinav Shashank left us with some parting advice. “Leverage a global workforce. Make sure you have the market expertise and capital efficiency to scale much faster and deliver experiences that are far ahead of the competition.” Doing so will create an environment where both your team and the workers in India are left better off. This emphasis on creating situations that benefit both parties with each team making meaningful contributions is something that OpFocus embodies in every interaction. “Win-Win” is a core value that every member of our team believes in.
This session was near and dear to my heart since it focuses on a message I strongly agree with, “Retention is the new growth.” Especially in SaaS, retention is the fastest way to grow your company. Bella Renney outlines the importance of retention and how teams can reduce turnover!
To start things off, Bella opens with the powerful fact that It’s over 10 times more expensive to acquire a new company than keep an existing one. This really highlights how valuable an effective renewal process is to your organization. Following this, she covers 3 things that every SaaS company can do to improve their renewal rates.
Every SaaS company should utilize the information they have on users. Look at your most active users to identify highly engaged customers and those that are at risk. This information helps identify where you should be prioritizing your resources.
If you provide your team access to information around your platform, they are far more equipped to help clients. This ultimately leads to better service and a more pleasant experience for your clients resulting in reduced turnover.
Carefully consider where you invest your time and engineering resources. There are times when you may want to work internally on your platform and times when resources are best used elsewhere.
She then discusses the user engagement score that her team uses. This is made up of three pillars, which influence how healthy the account is and the degree to which they are using your platform.
As Bella wrapped up, she discussed a final topic that caught my attention, the tech stack. She says that you should “always think about how the tech stack fits into your retention goals”. An effective tech stack ensures your team has the data you need to effectively retain and expand your business. The tech stack ensures you have the tools needed to effectively manage your data and processes. As one of our core values, “Reinforcing Best Practices”, revolves around offering prescriptive and predictive recommendations while providing actionable solutions.
The final session at SaaStr Annual 2020 that resonated with me looked at the SaaS industry as a whole. Arundhati Balachandran discussed the impact of Covid-19 on SaaS companies and where the industry is heading. Let’s discuss one of the most impactful events in decades and how to return your team to growth.
We can’t discuss the future until we understand the past. Arundhati notes that “Q2 was all about survival. In Q3 our customers are all focusing on growth and expansion strategies.” She then outlined a number of strategies her team has seen. Increasing retention should be the number one thing SaaS teams are focusing on.
1) Predict churn for long term retention strategies – Look at long term measurements to anticipate where churn may occur.
2) Track leading indicators for at-risk customers – Have all your leading indicators for churn in place so that you can more accurately predict customers leaving.
3) Seek long term contracts and product stickiness – Try to bring customers into long term contracts; your product becomes stickier and companies are less likely to leave.
Turning the conversation away from retention and towards growth, she outlined strategies used by fast scaling companies. Depending on your product, some tactics may be more effective than others, but all should be considered when scaling quickly.
Many companies are hesitant to turn to a freemium model but it’s a proven way to increase users. Once they have experience with your platform, these leads will be ready for upselling and expansion.
Companies are seeking to expand to other countries. To do this effectively, ensure you have the ability to charge in different currencies. This allows you to expand more quickly into these geographies.
Fast-growing companies may lack the sales staff to handle every incoming order. In this case, automate the sales process and enable users to purchase some accounts on their own.
No one wants to use a system they aren’t comfortable with, it’s as simple as that. As with providing self-service materials, user training makes your users more confident in their ability to use your platform leading to a higher rate of adoption.
This presentation made it clear that in order to grow, your team must take action. In a similar manner, another one of our core values at OpFocus is “Ownership”. We take full responsibility for every project and rise to the occasion. Clients and partners can count on us to think about their goals and get the job done.
It was great to hear from so many industry leaders at SaaStr Annual 2020 about the trends and challenges they face every day. There are so many takeaways and insights that SaaS teams can put to work in their organization. As SaaS growth experts, OpFocus enables teams facing these challenges to reach their operational goals. If your team is experiencing difficulty scaling or has challenges in your tech stack, we’re here to elevate your business. Reach out to a member of our team to hear what we’ve done with teams just like yours!
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