Dublin Delivers: Insights for SaaS Companies

I’ve been to a lot of conferences in the last 5 years and I rarely see people leaving sessions with transformative, specific and immediately applicable advice.

Fergus Gloster’s session during the SaaS.City bootcamp was all of those things for those lucky enough to attend. It also served as a powerful reminder of the depth of talent we have in Dublin when it comes to Software as a Service (SaaS). Fergus, who currently serves as an advisor to Dublin-based startups, garnered his SaaS knowledge and experience in the years he spent building the Salesforce and Marketo European operations out of Dublin.

To see a room full of people from all over the world listening to this Irishman explain the playbook was exciting, and a powerful reminder of the strength of our ecosystem and the people who have shaped it. It’s people like Fergus, steeped in knowledge and experience and generous with time and advice that give Ireland’s upcoming generation of startups a unique advantage.

Here are five takeaways from Fergus’ workshop:

  1. SaaS is different
  • SaaS is not just a new delivery and engagement model for users of software; it’s a fundamentally new business model
  • It is a shift from shipping a product to delivering a service, a shift in power in the relationship from the vendor to the buyer, and a switch from an upfront to a deferred revenue model.

  1. SaaS solutions need to be sold
  • Through a direct sales model – the reseller route is unlikely to work, particularly early on.
  • Define clear, specialised roles and territory for the sales people as early as possible eg. inbound, outbound etc.
  1. Sales and marketing alignment is crucial
  • Ensure the pricing model is easily understood by prospects and the sales team
  • Hold marketing accountable for delivering their part of the revenue quota
  • Agree and regularly review opportunity acceptance criteria to limit the dangers of forecasting false pipeline
  • “Love every lead you are given” – engage each lead early, don’t give up easily and don’t let sales qualify their own leads

  1. Scaling requires rigour and discipline
  • “If it’s not in the CRM it didn’t happen” – enforce sales discipline through a compensation plan if necessary
  • Choose and regularly measure the metrics that matter including Close Rates measured historically; Age of pipeline versus average sales cycle; Balance of new business versus add-on; Forecast accuracy
  1. Don’t forget people
  • Have metrics to make performance transparent and teach the front line managers to be coaches of their teams
  • No matter how good they think they are coming in, always have training certification and don’t put them on a sales territory until they pass
  • Always be recruiting new salespeople and ask candidates to present as part of the recruitment process
  • Tell them what it’s really like day-to-day, overselling will hurt you in the long run.

You can read more of Fergus Gloster’s wisdom here.