Last year, we published Volume 1 of The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide to help startups and growing AppExchange partners understand the basics around selling to the enterprise customer, and this year we’re thrilled to follow up with The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide Volume 2. In this book, we dive deeper on such topics as gaining a better understanding of your customer, assessing and solving business challenges unique to the SaaS industry, and key sales and marketing strategies to help you grow.
Below is a sneak peak of business advice from the best; from SaaS startup founders and industry experts like Tien Tzuo, Founder & CEO of Zuora, Mark Organ, Founder and CEO of Influitive, and social selling evangelist Jill Rowley. Whether you’re just entering the startup arena or searching for a community to accelerate growth, the quotes below can guide your decisions in navigating the complex world of SaaS. And don’t forget to download the full book for more in-depth insights.
“If you want to build a category king, I encourage you to leave your ego at the door, put on your detective hat, and listen with a beginner’s mind. You cannot will a category into being. You have to discover and develop a category by serving a very specific group of customers with a solution that fits their unique need.” - Mark Organ CEO, Influitive
“Think like an anthropologist. Discover and study fringe cultures that operate outside the mainstream and that could be massively elevated by new trends and disruptive technology. The idea is not to bet on disruptive technology, but rather bet on the people who would most benefit from it and serve them with a tailored technology solution.” - Mark Organ CEO, Influitive
“Before you launch, you must be prepared. You must be sure that you’re serving a real market need, not tackling a problem only because it’s interesting to solve. In my experience, immersing yourself in your customer’s world is the best way to gain the awareness needed to spot real opportunities for market disruption.” - Sean Jacobsohn Partner at Norwest Venture Partners
“You can make an unsuitable product fit the market, but you can never make the market fit an unsuitable product. This is why large companies spend millions of R&D dollars on extensive market analysis, using methodologies ranging from surveys and online analytics platforms, to analyst meetings and focus groups.” - Sean Jacobsohn Partner at Norwest Venture Partners
“You should only raise money from investors who will be hard on you and hold you accountable in good times, but will bat for you when things inevitably go wrong. Many founders think a brand-name investor is all you need or, worse, that all investment money is good money. Choose wisely: You are entering into a long-term relationship that requires a lot of trust and compromise.” - Deepa Subramanian CEO, Wootric
“Companies have woken up to the fact that people want outcomes, not ownership. They want customized experiences, and they want continuous improvement, not planned obsolescence. This isn’t a software story anymore. The table stakes have been raised for every industry.” - Tien Tzuo Founder and CEO, Zuora
“Getting customers to believe you’re there to help them means you have to genuinely think like them and speak their language. The tools and enablement strategies you leverage in your organization need to reflect a buyer-centric approach.” - David Priemer VP, Sales, Influitive
“Sales needs to shift from “trust me, this is in your best interest” to “these are the specific outcomes you will achieve.” Sales teams need to be able to show what’s happening now, what will change, and how this makes a difference. I’m not talking about just shifting your pitch. I’m talking about employing technology—highly sophisticated data gathering and analysis—to use reality as a means of highlighting purchases that are in a buyer’s best interest to authorize.” - Jill Rowley, Social Selling Evangelist
“There is tremendous benefit to adding value with every interaction, especially in advance of any ask. Teach your customers and prospects that the experience of working with you in your role will consistently yield tools and insights that will help them. For example, instead of pinging your prospects with the all-too-familiar just-checking-in emails or phone calls, why not point them to a helpful article or business book, or make an introduction to a like-minded customer or third-party expert that can help them in their role?” - David Priemer VP, Sales, Influitive
“Before you write a blog post, launch a Facebook ad, or issue a press release, you must know your audience’s aspirations. Who are you talking to? And why are you talking to them? We often assume we know our audience by creating a broad, demographic-driven, blanket audience persona. However, with so much marketing noise, breaking through to your real, authentic audience is not feasible on a mass scale.” - Amanda Nelson Senior Manager, AppExchange Content & Community
“How do you develop a campaign for multiple audiences? Simple: You don’t. You focus on one at a time. Your three, four, five, or 10 audience groups each gets its own campaign, or theme, in order to effectively target and address its challenges. Each campaign gets its own time frame and limelight before launching the next one. This establishes a campaign calendar that organizes your efforts in a way that’s both internally and externally digestible.” - Amanda Nelson Senior Manager, AppExchange Content & Community
“Building a digital, easily searched knowledge base as your startup begins to scale enables new hires to quickly see every email and call that took place with a customer—even conversations that happened in the early days of the organization. Employees don’t have to wait for a busy founder to review each account in advance of a renewal, or discuss a competitor’s offerings. In short, every new hire gets onboarded faster, with immediate access to everything the company has already learned. This enables scalable, repeatable ramping.” - Greg Poirier President, CloudKettle
Startups are hard work, no doubt. Expanding your network though many paths, including participating in a well-run incubator or accelerator program, will improve your probability of success. Don’t be afraid to tap on many folks along the way and learn from their experiences. Most people will go out of their way to help you in ways you can’t imagine. If you haven’t figured it out yet, being an entrepreneur, running a startup, along with the odds of failure versus success, make you the exact definition of an underdog. And most people will always root for the underdog to win. - Ray Hein Co-founder, Propel
Looking for more hands-on advice from SaaS leaders? Get The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide Volume 2 to learn more.