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5 Lessons from SaaStock Australasia 2019


SaaStock has often been referred to as the ‘Disneyland for SaaS companies.’ The event has always offered immersive experiences over the years, bringing together some of the brightest minds in the industry while creating a variety of engagement activities like workshops and networking sessions.

SaaStock Australasia, the two-day chapter for the Asian and Australian region took place on the 3rd and 4th of December. This year’s edition offered insightful workshops and sessions headlined by influential speakers such as Nathan Latka, Andy Farqhuarson, and Michael Carden. In this blog, we explore five SaaS marketing insights we learned from SaaStock Australasia.

Lesson #1 – Simplify your value proposition

Michael Carden, the co-founder of Joyous, mentioned the importance of being able to simplify the business value proposition. It is a well-known fact that product demos and pitches can get quite drab. Investors often sit through a multitude of these in a day and so, it is only natural that they experience a lapse in concentration. In a fascinating example from his past, he explained how he went about tackling the challenge of explaining his business to an investor who had spilled his lunch over himself just as they began the pitch! In his words, “If you can’t explain your business idea to a guy who is wiping ranch dressing off their crotch then you don’t have a business” Well said, Michael!

In addition to this, he added that “Engineering is the only way to beat the curve” and in order to achieve successful product-led growth, enterprises will need to follow two main principles. Firstly, the product needs to be engineered to be easy to use, functional, and valuable for customers. Secondly, he added that every founder needs to “love one thing deeper.” And by that he meant that enterprises need to possess one core value that is placed above all the rest and pour their focus into developing it. This way, they stay true to their vision of what the product needs to be and what it is trying to solve. 

Lesson #2 – The key to customer on-boarding

Nathan Latka was a crowd favourite at SaaStock Australasia. In his talk “8 steps to increase business valuation”, he explained the key role of customer on-boarding and why it is important to create an apparatus that does more than just tell the customers how to use a product. Essentially, it boiled down to how creating an experience around the product was essential to drive value. He went on to state the need for teams to build an organic journey to help new users adopt the solution. And one way to achieve this is by using simple step-by-step guides, videos, and templates that let them quickly experience the product while being able to preview their work.   

Lesson #3 – Helping customers reach their goals

Another priceless lesson from Latka’s session was about finding a goal that customers want to accomplish for themselves and helping them achieve it, very early on in their journey. Irrespective of whether the goal is to eliminate a pain point or make a process more efficient, the product needs to be designed in a way that persuades the customer to achieve that key set goal (or activation step) as friction-free as possible. And this of course, ties back to an effective on-boarding process and why it is important to get the right mix to excel at this aspect.

Lesson #4 – Getting a customer on board

Andy Farqhuarson of Winning by Design had a particularly interesting session. While his session was focused on a number of aspects, the one thing that caught my attention was the three steps that he mentioned about successful customer acquisition and on-boarding. Picking up from point #2 on this list, he went on to say that there are three things that absolutely need to be followed between finding the ideal customer and getting them on board.

The first step involves discovering their pain points or points of delight that they want to address. This will provide a clear idea on what they are looking for and what to do to pique their interest. Next, focus the conversation (and product demo) on the feature(s) that directly addresses their pain point(s). This will not only ensure that the demo is focused on their needs but will show customers that you have been listening. And third, gain validation. After the conclusion of each feature/benefit, it is important to ask prospects three questions 1. Is this relevant? 2. Can you see yourself using it? 3. How would it impact your business? If the answer is positive on each then this shows customers see immediate value in the product whilst the contrary if they disagree.

Lesson #5 – Using an engagement model that matches average customer value

We’ve left the best nugget of insight for the last. Picking up from the last point, Andy detailed crucial points to consider while creating a customer engagement model. He explained this with the help of a graph that pit the number of customers against the average annual customer value (ACV).

Essentially, the curve on the graph mimics the trajectory of any SaaS business; starting with the majority of its customers on a freemium model (if applicable). As the company grows it begins to achieve an increased average customer value, and with it, other channels are put in place to begin to find customers.

At the initial stages, while the number of paying customers is low, SaaS organisations will have to adapt a freemium model where customers gain an experience of the product at little to no cost. The enterprise may rely on low engagement initiatives like product-led growth to do so. And it will only need to expand its engagement model once the customer base reaches a threshold of users.

For example, a company may consider relying solely on product led growth initiatives and inside sales strategy if the average customer value is at around $5k with a large proportion of the customer base still on a freemium or very low monthly subscription. It should consider increasing engagement with outbound and field sales initiatives only once the ACV begins to pass this number comfortably. In essence, it would not make sense to invest in a localised field sales team until ACV is well above $150k.

Hello Frank!

A summary of the takeaways would not be complete without a mention of Frank Llama – the mascot of Functionally – who along with the other key speakers was the hit of the conference!

Overall, SaaStock Australasia was an immense learning experience that drove home some truly insightful points. As a growing, SaaS provider, we pride ourselves on being able to give our customers a unique and simple way to solve a problem that is typically complex and, for the most part, manual. We believe that the lessons we’ve learned at SaaStock will help us adapt to the changing landscape and demands of the SaaS business while staying true to the value we deliver through our products.

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