How to handle acquisition interest; A tiered approach to ABM campaigns; Building “exceptional relationships”...

June 18, 2021
Strategy

💃 Inbound acquisition interest can be both incredibly exciting and distracting for founders. It often prompts an internal debate of whether you should do the song and dance to figure out if it’s the right time to exit, or if you should just keep your head down and scale as you have been. Storm Ventures had some great advice on how to deal with inbound, and the differences in interest from public companies, PE funds, or private strategics. Even if selling isn’t something you are considering in the near future, it’s generally worth taking these calls because at some point, you likely will be. Plus, having conversations early will show you what about your business excites buyers (so you can double down there) and also provides invaluable experience in dealing with groups similar to (or who could even end up being) your buyer.

Strategy

🦙 As we have delved into before, there is risk in both over measuring and under measuring your business – you don’t want to get too granular and lose sight of your north star goal, but you of course don’t want to under report and misunderstand the variables which are impacting your business. This same problem exists with investors and the data they require their investments to provide them. Alpaca VC’s approach seems like a good middle ground, establishing 4-5 OKRs (objectives and key results) at their point of investment, which are separate but aligned with what the company already tracks. They then revisit these OKRs at the end of every quarter and rank performance on a 1 - 5 scale, writing out a summary of what led the company to hit or miss goals. It feels like the right level of involvement for groups who are not working with you in day to day operations but are invested in your success.

Marketing

🧃 Account based marketing (ABM) is a targeted effort in that it aims at a select group of high priority accounts rather than casting a wide net which catches leads of all shapes and sizes, many of which won’t be good fits. But there’s an even more specific approach you can be using for ABM – a tiered approach. It divides ABM targets into three categories: Strategic, Lite, and Programmatic, then outlines the specific tasks you should use based on the target’s tier. For example, it could be worth your while to roll out the red carpet for strategic accounts and create personalized ads specific to their business, but for a programmatic account that seems like a good customer but has limited upside, the juice might not be worth the squeeze.

Marketing

📹 B2B buyers are typically 57% along the way to a buying decision before they talk with sales (via CEB Global), so your website might actually play a bigger role in selling than your team. Hubspot highlighted some good B2B product sites for your inspiration, and explained why they do a good job of selling. Cringey video edits aside, there are some helpful nuggets of wisdom – we liked the suggestion of only using 5 colors and 3 typefaces / font sizes on your site to prevent visitors from getting overwhelmed, as well as only using graphics in areas where you need to encourage visitors to complete a task or function (i.e. they need real purpose). They also give praise to sites which use their homepage to filter buyers by persona, then lead to verticalized landing pages with use case specific content. Verticalized segmentation is not newsworthy, but very intentionally guiding visitors right from the start of your site can be incredibly impactful and is rarely implemented.

Reads

🥐 In David Bradford and Carole Robin’s Connect, the two Stanford professors cover what they call “exceptional relationships”, in which you feel free to be your sincere self around another person. It’s an interesting topic relative to business because in most cases, we are more guarded with work relationships than personal ones. To gain more sincere relationships, they suggest trying the 15% rule, where you attempt to share 15% more than you feel is “safe” with others. That tiny bit of additional sharing can help you be seen as more human, and sets a norm that encourages your team to do the same. They also share the importance of quality feedback to relationships, and caution to not get caught serving “feedback sandwiches”. These not so tasty morsels start with positive feedback, followed by the real feedback you wanted to give, and end on another positive note as to not be too harsh. The book is a culmination of their interpersonal communications grad teachings, and serves as a much quicker (and less expensive) course!

Previous Weekly Playbooks

April 9, 2021
📕 The Guide to Building a Sellable Product; First-Time CMO Mistakes; Call or Email?...

There have never been more software companies than there are today, yet there’s an asymmetry between the rising interest in SaaS and the availability of private SaaS company data. This study from Andre Retterath took a look at the top startup databases to see which provided the most extensive and accurate data. Tl;dr: if you are an operator looking for general info like company location, leadership and light funding history, Crunchbase is the best bang for your buck. If more detailed funding history and competitive analysis is a must (and you can afford the starting rate of 18k/year), then Pitchbook is probably your best bet.

April 2, 2021
📕 What B2B SaaS can learn from NFTs; No-code no-joke; Why Google is seeing more “0 click searches”...

There’s still time for others to catch up, but our early leader for the 2021 SaaS buzzword of the year is no/low code. Jokes aside we are totally on board with the hype, tools that enable non-engineers to build play a huge role in the democratization of software development, opening up the door for almost anyone with a computer to become a creator. The linked post from Pietro Invernizzi (Stride VC) categorizes no/low code tools into the primary categories we see today, and rightfully shares the love with some of the smaller players out there not named Zapier.

March 26, 2021
📕 Gong’s most effective marketing channel; Why referral = better retention; A holistic B2B SaaS marketing guide

We’re still not over Stripe’s 95b valuation, partially because they haven’t shared much on the metrics which got them there. TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm looked at previous Stripe data to suss out why they could be worth the 95b label, coming to the conclusion that if Stripe processed $400b in 2020 (they were quoted as processing “hundreds of billions last year”), you can apply their ~3% fee to come to get to a $12b run rate, or 7.9x multiple on revenue. Even if we assume half that amount of payments, it would equate to a $6b run rate and 15.8x multiple, far lower than the public market multiples they will likely receive at IPO. This is all to say, 95b might not be too crazy after all.

March 19, 2021
📕 Dissecting investment memos; Moving on from the Metric Monolith; How to make ideas sticky...

Happy Friday mis amigos. We’d be remiss not to mention Stripe’s historic week, in which they raised 600m at a gasping $95b valuation. While the number is staggering, what’s most impressive is how they got there – the business has only 3,000 staff today, ⅓ as many as Facebook did when they IPO’d at a similar valuation, allowing them to be highly capital efficient relative to their unicorn peers. Funds will supposedly be spent on EU expansion, which could mean more acquisitions… It's a good day to be a European payment platform!

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 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 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 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 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!

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!

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!

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 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.

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.

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.