📕 Customer-Led growth FTW; Breaking a billion; Solving product problems…

January 22, 2021
The SaaS Playbook

It seems like every year, there’s a debate on if Silicon Valley is the best place to launch your startup. In 2020, this conversation picked up even more steam because, well, we don’t need to get back into those details. We recently stumbled across this LinkedIn thread that gives some great arguments for both sides of the table. We’ve always been partial to building new tech ecosystems outside the Valley, but would love to hear what you think.

Alright, now for this week’s Playbook!

Product

🥼 We don’t want to be the guys who suck all the fun out of the room, but we’d caution any founder against releasing their latest technical invention without extensive thought. Startup success is determined by how well you can create and iterate products that solve your customers’ needs. When you begin to validate your product, you should create a hypothesis rooted in your market’s past behaviors. More than showing where the big wins are, using a scientific approach to product iteration and validation helps you identify points of failure before they become a time and money suck.

Growth

🚓 Most of the time, when we think about scaling, we prioritize marketing, sales, and customer success. Equally as important is your product's technical side - network bandwidth, features, and security are all important pieces of your product that need to evolve as you scale. Intercom recently broke down some of their best advice for scaling. There are a few obvious “don’ts,” like avoiding technical debt and not over-optimizing. Given some of the recent headlines and as more companies rely on SaaS products, there’s a strong case to be made for building security from the start. For one, it’s easier to be proactive than reactive. Secondly, as you scale, you could be looking at moving into new customer segments - and if those segments include enterprise customers, you’ll need to provide proof of your security safeguards.

Customers

👂 We’ve seen several companies move away from the lead funnel acquisitions framework to a more customer-centric flywheel. Embracing this mindset shift means that your customer goals (not company) should be at the core of your growth engine. Here’s where customer-led growth (CLG) comes into play; as the name suggests, the strategy entails taking a deep dive into customer experiences and actions to see where your growth levers are. In other words, your customers tell you their needs, and you interpret their feedback into the product. While slightly different from the product-led growth theory, if they are combined the two strategies can be very powerful.  One word of caution - be selective about the feedback you incorporate; segmentation is vital here.

Growth

🧙We are always down for a good case study on how companies were built. So it’s no surprise that this write-up on how Outreach was able to break billion-dollar status caught our attention. There are a plethora of unconventional strategies to put in your playbook, but spoiler alert- none of them center on marketing or sales wizardry. Instead, they set a rather unusual B2B North Star Metric, and prioritized monthly active users above all other metrics. The team became razor-focused on making their users daily users and created a job role with the specific goal of getting 70% of new licenses to daily uses. Driving home the product's value and specifically focusing on adoption versus customer success. The effort was wildly successful- the company boasts a 140% annual net revenue retention rate.

Reads

💣 We’re about to drop a truth bomb on you: the disconnect between your product and your customer is a problem you will never really solve. There is some good news though, this disconnect provides huge growth opportunities. Solving Product, by Etienne Garbugli, offers advice on identifying the service gaps between your product and your audience. The book aims to help product managers proactively identify gaps between the products they create and what customers are actually looking for. We were pretty impressed with how actionable the book is, providing a different perspective of how product people can decode customer feedback and hone-in on what they are actually asking for.

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Previous Weekly Playbooks

March 5, 2021
📕 Why it’s time to retire the MQL; Board meetings for beginners; Expert outbound sales sequences...

Welcome to the end of the week. We’ve got some big news, as we’ve just launched a brand new website featuring a SaaS Playbook library! Now if you’re looking for great B2B SaaS content in a specific area, you can filter through our historical playbook features by topic to quickly find the best of the best. Historical features are being added as we speak so you should have access to the full library soon... excited to see what you think!

February 26, 2021
📕 The weighted Rule of 40; Navigating SaaS loan interest rates; F#ck Content Marketing

Happy Friday everyone. The job market has been slower than usual for obvious reasons, but we do have some open roles here at Scaleworks which we’re looking to fill. Namely, we’re searching for a Corporate Development Associate to help us find great products to invest in and awesome B2B SaaS content to share with you all. Give us a shout if you think you or anyone in your network might be a fit… Referral fees included!

February 19, 2021
📕 Get smart with sales intelligence; Hubspot hits $1B; Simple email marketing optimizations...

Morning folks, hope all our readers facing these winter storms are staying warm and safe right now. We’ll get to the newsletter shortly, but first we’d like to highlight a few organizations which are working to support Texans in need right now. There are links with information on how you can donate or help if you’re interested. 

  1. Feeding Texas 
  2. Crowdsource Rescue
  3. The Salvation Army
January 15, 2021
📕 Pricing as a growth lever; 10x approach to content marketing; How to scale customer segments...

Two weeks into the year is a bit early to identify any real 2021 SaaS trends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take out our crystal ball and at least try. Onetool CEO Gordian Braun thinks the increasing number of SaaS tools will create chaos for end-users – more options and new, super niche verticals could result in overlapping features for products in different categories, making buying decisions more difficult. No-code tools (like Notion and Airtable) and workflow automation tools should also be on the rise as both are “simplifiers” that address the issue of having too many tools to handle. Let’s see how his predictions shake out...

January 22, 2021
📕 Customer-Led growth FTW; Breaking a billion; Solving product problems…

It seems like every year, there’s a debate on if Silicon Valley is the best place to launch your startup. In 2020, this conversation picked up even more steam because, well, we don’t need to get back into those details. We recently stumbled across this LinkedIn thread that gives some great arguments for both sides of the table. We’ve always been partial to building new tech ecosystems outside the Valley, but would love to hear what you think.

Alright, now for this week’s Playbook!

January 29, 2021
📕 How to measure your Power User Curve; Solving product backlogs; The Chief Customer Officer 2.0...

Howdy folks, and welcome to the end of the week! Today’s playbook takes a focus on customer-centric strategies, from unique methods to measure user engagement, to the best ways to gather and prioritize customer feedback. We also managed to wrap in not one, but two corny car analogies. Please forgive us, it’s the end of the month and we’re behind quota.

Have a great weekend.

January 8, 2021
📕 Amplifying content via thought leaders; The Adjacent Customer; “Obviously awesome” product positioning…

Happy Friday folks. We can’t be the only ones a bit behind on our 2021 business planning, so we thought you all might get some use out of this template from our very own Ed Byrne, which will help you review last year’s progress and set thoughtful 2021 goals. It’s a roughly two-day process that requires some buy-in from your team and serious self-awareness... let us know what you think!

November 20, 2020
📕 The rise of the pod people; Self-caring your way to effective leadership; Simplifying revenue attribution...

Tech startup culture is known for two things: brooding dev teams and amazing office snacks. Kidding (sort of). What’s actually at the heart of startup culture is breaking down norms and creating new solutions to perennial problems.

Speaking of problem-solving – we’ve got some great content this week on solving the internal struggles most startups face, from team structure to leadership burnout and revenue attribution.

November 27, 2020
📕 SaaS Black Friday deals; How Typeform built an A+ brand, Why you shouldn’t “just ship it”…

Good morning to those just waking up from a turkey coma, it’s time for your weekly serving of SaaS news. And, because we love a good deal, we suggest you check out the B2B SaaS blog’s 2020 Black Friday deal list. We know everyone is in 2021 planning mode, so hopefully, the ~200 discounted SaaS deals save you some dollars.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

December 4, 2020
📕 Avoiding the SaaS Valley of Death; Hiring “scrappers”; How to become a trusted advisor...

With the new year on the horizon it’s time to start thinking about that 2021 hiring plan. It’s hard not to focus on a candidate’s resume when making hiring decisions, but remember, an impressive resume doesn’t tell the whole story. More companies are foregoing those with “expert credentials” in favor of teachable hires who are willing to take risks. An openness to risk is especially important to surviving in B2B SaaS, so our advice is to always look for scrappers.

December 11, 2020
📕 Flywheels over funnels; How to measure SaaS operating leverage; Nailing your value prop...

In just 5 years, The Morning Brew has emerged as one of the GOAT newsletters. Their growth to stardom is in large part thanks to their referral marketing mastery – 30% of their 2.5m million subscribers came through the channel. We aren’t saying that a referral program will work quite as well for your B2B SaaS product (newsletters charge time, SaaS products charge money) but if it can work even just 1/10th as well, it could be worth testing...

December 18, 2020
📕 Avoiding measurability bias; The Shape-Up method; The power of Pre-Suasion...

Happy Friday folks. This is our last Playbook before Christmas, so we’ll wish you an early happy holidays now! It’s been an eventful year to say the least, here’s to hoping 2021 brings brighter days (we’re optimistic). Cheers!

January 1, 2021
📕 Your intro to cognitive marketing; A SaaS growth simulator; Boosting retention with intent data...

Happy New Year folks! Can’t believe we actually made it to 2021, we hope you have a great start to the year. We’ve been working on some of our new year’s resolutions and have a couple nailed down: to better understand our customers and thoroughly testing our acquisition channels. We’re touching on both (plus more) today, hope you enjoy!