Last week I attended the second ever Southern SaaS to learn more about the best current thinking on how to run a SaaS business.
As a fanboy of last year’s conference I went in with high expectations for this year’s event. Southern SaaS 2019 did not disappoint. It was a sold-out crowd, had world class speakers and plenty of SaaS insider nuggets were dished out.
So for those of you who couldn’t make it, here are my Southern SaaS top takeaways.
The first speaker was Marvin Liao from 500 Startups, who delivered SaaS insights in his typically confrontational fashion. His takes were:
Next up was Georgia Robertson from Kiwi startup Humanitix, which is redefining what it means to be a non-profit company. They are disrupting the ticketing industry by giving 100% of their ticketing fees to educational charities. What struck me was how disruptive it can be when you have feature-parity with your competitors but offer your customers services which have a social impact. Humanitix gives the event organiser the kudos for the positive social outcome, which acts as a compelling reason to choose them over a standard ticketing company.
Toby Littin, my co-founder in Parkable, spoke about the mistakes we have made going from startup to scale-up. He shone the light on a big mistake I made while scoping our China project (quite embarrassing) and also spoke about how not all revenue is created equal - you need to focus on the revenue that is scalable and repeatable.
The SaaS Sales theme was continued by Matt Cameron from SaaSy Sales Management, whose opening line made me laugh: “Salespeople weave the blanket of revenue that keeps you warm at night.” Matt’s view was that pipeline generation needs to lead headcount addition as it is inefficient to recruit salespeople if there are not enough qualified leads for them - regardless of what the resource plan dictates.
Following on from the focus on sales, Kirsty Traill, VP of Client Advocacy at Yext, spoke very knowledgeably about having customer success conversations at the leadership level. In her view, brand is happening more and more off your website. Brand is now turning up in services such as search tools, staff communication, and video conferencing software, which means it is vitally important to develop a knowledge graph - which is everything that you know about your brand. This way you have a central place where you can control how your brand is expressed, leading to greater brand consistency and discoverability across new services which could potentially be voice or chat based. Kirsty referred to this as an “answers ready strategy.”
Finally Justin Wilcox from Teaching Entrepreneurship gave a great practical demonstration of how you can use a process called stream of consciousness usability testing to identify weak areas in your sales funnel and increase conversion. The process starts by finding someone unfamiliar with your product and coaching them to “share what they are feeling and thinking” as they go through the process of signing up. It's important to record everything as you go, so you are focussed on what the tester is saying and feeling and can dive in with follow up questions when the tester reveals something of interest.
Those are all the tips that resonated with me from the speakers that I saw. It was a great experience with a lot of lessons, so the last tip from me is to make sure you get tickets early for Southern SaaS 2020 as it will definitely sell out again!
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