Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending SaaStr Annual (#SaaStrAnnual2018), an eclectic and growing (really growing!) gathering of SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. It was my first time there and I was very impressed by the variety of attendees from all over the board – healthcare, property management, cybersecurity, IT, telecommunications, legal, financial services – and from as far away as Minneapolis (the event was in San Francisco but attracted many more than the local Silicon Valley crowd). Many of the attendees were from smaller companies – bootstrapped and venture-backed startups – but they mostly had a couple things in common. One, they were selling a SaaS-based subscription service that most of the time was designed to solve a niche problem in a particular industry, and two, they all had the desire to take their growth to the next level by building up their sales operations, doing marketing, hiring the right team – all the things it takes to grow a company.
The speaker lineup was phenomenal. It was pretty much a who’s who of technology founders and investors, so really a wealth of insight and advice on the building blocks you need to grow from a $1M to a $10M to a $100M company. Also notable was that almost 50 percent of the speakers were women. It’s great to see more women building companies and products and serving different marketplaces.
I only had the chance to attend a few sessions, but I found them all compelling. Shan Sinha, CEO and Founder of cloud-based video conferencing startup HighFive and the man behind Docverse (now Google Drive), talked about disrupting the large incumbents in the video conferencing market and how HighFive has found success as a new player – underscored by the news that the company had just raised $32M in Series C funding that very day. It was great to hear more about that from Shan directly and share in his excitement.
Another presenter I found to be really insightful was SendGrid’s CMO, Scott Heimes. In the midst of a crowded field of transactional and marketing email providers, SendGrid managed a successful, upsized IPO last November that netted over $130M and exceeded expectations. Scott spoke about how to drive growth and engagement via email, and he shared some surprising statistics such as the fact that Gen Z email usage is growing the fastest, and that three word subject lines outperform longer ones. He also underscored the idea that to be successful these days, marketing and sales emails need to be contextual – timely, relevant and personal.
I also enjoyed the panel discussion, “Career Advice from Top Female Leaders in SaaS.” Heidi Bullock of Engagio did an impressive job explaining what it takes to be CMO at a venture-backed company, but also making sure her family is taken care of and well. Meagen Eisenberg, CMO at MongoDB, also spoke about how she is able to maintain work/life balance as part of an IPO-driven company. I’m sure everyone in the audience appreciated hearing that it is possible to be part of a fast-growing startup and still have a life.
One of the companies I met that impressed me quite a bit was PatientPop, which is leading the way in helping medical practices grow their patient list through patient management and onboarding as well as proactive marketing. Their approach stands out as an example of a SaaS company that is driving innovation in an industry that is on the verge of major changes.
During my conversations with onsite vendors and other attendees, one common denominator stood out from a sales and marketing perspective. First, many teams have been schooled on the old way of connecting with prospects – spray and pray – and very few are adept with new methods of understanding and connecting with their ideal customer profiles, or ICPs. Yet, every product I saw solved a niche problem and needed to be targeted to different buyers – IT, sales, HR, healthcare, financial services, legal, and so on. The challenge for these teams is getting their hands on data and leads that are customized and extremely targeted to the contacts they need to be reaching out to.
I was happy to explain how SaleScout alleviates this problem. We don’t push a huge database of irrelevant leads of which you’ll only use a fraction. Instead, we work with you to gain a thorough understanding of your ICP and then we offer a customized solution that matches your ICP and supports the goals and practices of your sales and marketing teams. So you not only know who your buyers are, you know them well, you have their contact information, and you can start relevant conversations with them.