2019 SaaStr Scale Recap
Longtime Revhacks readers know my obsession w/ Jason Lemkin and his team at SaaStr. Jasons writing and the content produced by the team at SaaStr is the most referenced resource in Revhacks. To show my appreciation, I’ll buy anyone on the SaaStr team drinks, send me an inMail and mention “drinks with Hooptie” lol.
The SaaStr Scale event is catered to the existing SaaStr community. Based on my informal polling, everyone I spoke with had been to a SaaStr event in the past. Tickets were available to the public at a slight premium, but I appreciate the “customer loyalty” approach to the event. Regardless of how much you paid for the ticket, the ROI was there.
SaaStr Scale vs SaaStr Annual
As much as I loved the SaaStr Annual, I found SaaStr Scale to be infinitely more valuable. The big difference was how actionable the Scale content was packaged. Each session was titled “The Playbook to…”, and the speakers would dive right into their best practices. Conversely, the SaaStr Annual focused on keynote speakers telling founder stories, with breakout session to dive deeper. As much as I love hearing stories from legends like Ryan Smith (Qualtrics), Brian Halligan (Hubspot), and Mikkel Svane (Zendesk); I’d much rather hear actionable stories from the trenches as I did at SaaStr Scale. That, combined with the accessibility of the speakers, is what set SaaStr Scale apart.
When I look back and compare notes, my notebook from the Annual was filled with inspirational quotes, and my notebook from Scale was filled with actionable bullet points. To each his own.
It’s no surprise that two out of three of my favorite speakers are VP of Sales. There’s no harder job in SaaS than scaling from “founder selling” to $50M in ARR, those who have done it are essentially unicorns. It’s my job to understand, support, and make the VP of sales successful.
Justin Welsh: fmr. SVP of Sales @ Patient Pop
Justin’s has a great story, hardened by years of selling in the pharmaceutical industry; he didn’t find his niche until he landed a role at ZocDoc. Justin continued that momentum scaling PatientPop from $0-$50M in ARR.
Welsh presented his “Playbook to Building a Thriving Sales Culture.” He outlined eight steps from hiring to comp, and showed how they work together to attract, retain, and develop a sales team into a real GTM advantage.
Read more about Justin here: www.theofficialjustin.com
Brendon Cassidy: fmr VP of Sales @ Echosign/Talkdesk/LinkedIn
Brendon was employee number 15 at LinkedIn, 10 at Echosign, 5 at Talkdesk. He’s consulted and advised countless startups since then. My head spins, thinking of what he’s learned being “in the room” with Hoffman, Lemkin, and Paiva.
Cassidy presented his “Playbook to Hiring Your First VP of Sales and Not Screwing it Up.” Underlying his philosophy is the importance to wait and get it right. He said 8/10 first VP of sales will ultimately fail, yet 10/10 of the top public SaaS companies got it right (hired the VP who scaled from $1-$50M on the first try). Loosing one year of growth due to an underperforming VP will have ripple effects for years to come. It will increase the cost of capital, decrease your ability to attract talent, and open a window for competitors.
Read more about Brendon here: www.cassidyventures.com
Guillaume Cabane: fmr VP of Growth @ Segment/Segment
Guillaume is probably the most sought after growth hacker in the valley, just last month Tomasz Tunguz shared some thoughts on his thinking.
Cabane presented his “Playbook to Running Growth Experiments at Scale.” He walked us through when to invest in growth, how to structure the team, and how to measure experiments. I loved his focus on ruthless prioritization and willingness to fail. It was the first time I had seen the sales velocity equation applied to growth experiments.
Read more about Guillaume here: www.guillaumecabane.com
ChurnZero: Customer Success Platform
With the Chandar Pattabhiram article fresh on my mind, I daydream of ways to operationalize success. Enter ChurnZero: A new customer success platform that integrates data between sales, product, marketing, and support to track the customer journey. I like to think of it as Outreach for customer success.
ChurnZero integrates with Segment, the UI is more elegant than Gainsight, and the administration is so simple you won’t need a certified admin. Deploying this tool will empower the success team and make RevOps look like heroes. Shout out to Spiros Theodore for the excellent demo and thoughtful conversation around success.
Learn more about ChurnZero here: www.churnzero.net