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Metrics that Measure Up

Author: Ray Rike

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B2B SaaS and Cloud founders, CEOs, and Go-To-Market operating executives share their journey as they scaled their business from $0M ARR to $100M and beyond. The guests share their insights on measurements of success, performance metrics, and benchmarks they use to guide and inform their decision-making and growth journey.Guests include founders and CEOs of amazing success stories such as LinkedIn, DocuSign, Marketo, Gainsight, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, ringDNA, InsightSquared, Cloudera and Gong. Beyond founders and CEOs, we also speak with leading Venture Capitalists, Go-To-Market executives and industry thought leaders who share their experience and insights into customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer expansion best practices.

140 Episodes
Caleb Avery, Founder and CEO at Tilled shares how B2B SaaS companies can turn credit card payment processing fees from an operating expense into revenue as a Payment Facilitator (PayFac).See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Bill Kantor, the founder, and CEO of Funnelcast is applying the lessons he learned about statistical process controls in the hardware industry to the art and science of measuring and managing the opportunity funnel and then optimizing forecasting for B2B technology companies.The end-to-end Customer Acquisition process is still quite manual today, due to B2B Sales being such a human-centric endeavor. However, with a sufficient amount of opportunity data, the science behind statistical process controls in the manufacturing and consumer-facing industries is now available to B2B revenue leaders.But why are we will still using manual tasks to manage the B2B opportunity funnel? It starts with companies and their leaders not investing the time required to take a more data-centric, holistic view of even the most basic metrics - such as win rate. Yes, the win rate which is NOT a point-in-time measurement, rather it is a curve that includes different win rates along the time continuum being measured. As an example, the win rate on Day 75 is NOT the same as the win rate on Day 120. Moreover, if you simply use total deals won / total deals closed to calculate the win rate it excludes all of those opportunities that are still open and in process.What are the TOP metrics that are most predictive of a B2B company's sales success? Bill suggests there are only 3 sales metrics that matter, which include:Win RateOpportunity Creation RateAverage Contract ValueBut what about the more detailed, nuanced measurements such as "stage by stage" conversion rates which provides additional signals as to whether a deal is at risk of becoming "stale" and thus the probability to win reduces materially? They are critical to increasing the accuracy of forecasting - as those deals that are stalled are highly correlated to sales rep storytelling and the "exception status" of a single deal becoming the "outlier" reason for multiple deals - effectively eliminating the category of outlier to the norm.If you are responsible for managing the new customer acquisition forecast, and/or are responsible for financial performance metrics that are a direct result of win rates, opportunity creation and thus hitting the forecast and the plan - this is a highly instructive episode.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Alok Goel, Founder and CEO of shares how his roles as a product manager at Google and then a Venture Capitalist informed his journey as a B2B SaaS entrepreneur.As a VC, Alok would meet 15 - 20 companies per week, which provides a unique opportunity to identify specific trends across a large number of companies using pattern recognition. One trend Alok identified, was what differentiated those companies that would consistently, quarter over quarter meet and exceed their stated financial goals from those that missed their financial goals? It was the pursuit to answer this question that lead to Alok's founding of Drivetrain.aiThe first question Alok answered was what were his experiences as a product manager at Google that informed his entrepreneurial journey. Google encouraged product managers to determine the best solution for a user without any constraints - which leads to the best solution for the audience. Then, think about how to deliver the solution with the constraints that do exist, both inside the company and in the market.Next, Alok shared the importance for a company to identify the data they have internally to gain insights into future growth efficiency, they should first identify what insights they wished they had about their business and then identify what instrumentation is required to achieve those insights.Alok shared the importance of never being too committed to one "way of thinking" that is not in alignment with the insights they are being provided from the market, from the internal metrics and data that is highlighting change is needed. In today's world, the external reality is changing so quickly, a company must change before the competitive market takes advantage of its resistance to change and evolution.Understanding that the insights you gain today are not going to change your business today - it will take some time. This is why having a continuous process that surfaces insights that can be quickly converted into actions that can be measured on their impact over time - this is why it is so important to understand the leading indicators (signals) and lagging indicators that are inter-dependant and predictive of future outcomes!If you are interested in how to develop a more predictive, holistic process that can capture the most important signals (leading indicators) that can be improved to ensure the ultimate lagging indicators such as Net Revenue Retention, CAC Payback Period and Revenue Growth rates are highly predictive and achieved consistently - this conversation with Alok Goel is a great listen!!!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Peter Walker, Head of Insights at Carta the industry-leading Equity Management Platform shares equity valuation insights and data from the 36,000+ customers and $2.5T in equity value running on their platform. Peter's goal is to make the data Carta has in their platform useful for CEOs and CFOs to inform decision-making.Start-up valuations trends increased dramatically in the 2020 - early 2022 timeframe - creating a valuation bubble. A few highlights from Peter included:Seed Stage:Q1-23: $13M pre-money (median)Q2-23: $12.7M pre-money (median)Series A: Q1-23: $40M pre-money (median)Q2-23: $39M pre-money (median)Series C: Q1-23:$300M pre-money (median)Q2-23 $250M pre-money (median)The ~ 20% decrease in pre-money valuations for Series C companies highlights the lack of a short-term IPO exit option and begins to normalize back to more historic valuations.Overall VC investment trends also highlight a material decrease in the amount of Venture Capital investments being made:Q4-21: $66B investment recorded on Carta (all-time high)Q1-23: $10B investment recorded on CartaQ2-23: $10B investment recorded on Carta - estimate onlyPeter highlighted the "SAFE" market held up better than most other price equity markets. Specifically, SAFE's over $500,000 were priced fairly equivalent to price equity seed rounds. Because of the ease of use of a SAFE, it has become the most common fundraising vehicle for pre-seed and seed rounds.Peter also highlighted that AI is a "hot space" for investors. The median cash raised for an AI company was $13M versus $8M for non AI companies in Q2-23.Next during the conversation, we discussed the trends on staffing and operating expense trends. Carta tracks terminations and the trends are quite insightful:January was the highest month for lay-offs ever for companies on Carta, numbering 17,000 lay-offs representing about 2% for the month (24% annualized) versus the norm of .5% - 1% per month. This number was reduced to 10,000 lay-offs in May. The other insight is that people are not leaving for voluntary termination reasons - highlighting the desire to not switch jobs in this market.One other topic we discussed was the compensation trends in early-stage companies. The rapid increases in salaries experienced in 2020 through the first half of 2022 have changed dramatically. Even software engineering roles saw a -.3% decrease over the past 6+ months, which is not material, but much different than the 10%+ increases experienced in 2020 - 2021. Sales were the most impacted function as measured by compensation decreases, followed closely by recruiter compensation.We also discussed the emerging trend of "down-rounds" which represented 20% of equity rounds in Q2-23. Moreover, the velocity of "angel investments" is down dramatically in 2023. After the explosion in angel investments in January 2020 - March 2023. Since then the # of angel investments is down by ~ one-third over the last six months - however, that is still above the historic levels of angel investments previous to 2021.One last data point is that Silicon Valley and the Bay area is still the #1 geographic region for VC investment when compared to New York (79% in Northern California and 21% in New York). However, when looking at NYC versus San Francisco the mix is much more equal with an ~ 50% to 50% mix in equity rounds raised.If you share my passion for all things metrics and data for B2B SaaS companies, this conversation with Peter Walker, Head of Insights at Carta is illuminating!!!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Product-Led Growth (PLG) is viewed as a new Go-to-Market motion by many - but to Carilu Dietrich it was her reality as the Chief Marketing Officer for a pioneer in PLG - Atlassian, developer of JIRA.Carilu was the driving force behind making developer products cool while helping to scale Atlassian from $50M ARR to over $400M leading to an IPO!Before Atlassian, Carilu started as an enterprise sales professional, and then started cross-training, including being responsible for the initial digital advertising for the launch of the iPad. Today's discussion centered on the journey of scaling a PLG company from $50M ARR to $500M ARR.What's the role of Marketing in a PLG company? It's much more of a B2C model, which included Atlassian's strategy to invest one-half less on Sales and Marketing and invest that saving in building the world's best product that sells itself! By hanging out in communities where the target buyer personas discuss the benefits of using the product, the primary source of new customers is inbound, versus requiring the expense of outbound sales investments.Atlassian was boot-strapped, which enabled the executive team to continue their "PLG" Go-to-Market motion even when others were strongly encouraging them to add in an enterprise Sales led motion. The real challenge is how to add in sales while maintaining the core focus of Product-Led Growth. The two models will inherently compete for constrained resources, especially financial and human capital.In a focused "PLG" environment, the primary goal is to ensure new users can experience the core value of the product, and translate their initial experience in a trial environment to a paying user.At Atlassian, Marketing was primarily responsible for awareness and top-of-funnel development while the "Growth" team was responsible for points of user engagement following hitting the "trial button" and nurturing new customers and converting them into paid users and ultimately paid enterprise customers. Initially, Atlassian focused on the "individual users", and progressing them from free users to paid users through up-sells and cross-sells which was primarily driven by Marketing. Sales was primarily responsible for paid user renewals, and over time sales then expanded their focus on converting a group of individual users to a company-wide, enterprise agreement.Next, we discussed hyper-growth at scale from the $50M to $500M level. As a small, early-stage company it is hard and even not advisable to hire people who have "seen" the movie at a higher level of scale. In the early stages, companies are looking for Product Market Fit and then in the next stage after they have repeatable sales they increase investment in Marketing to generate more top-of-funnel demand. Ultimately, the goal is to look for "step-ups" such as new product introduction, expanding into new global markets or even changing financial models to prepare for a larger financial return. At each step of the journey, executive leadership needs to continuously review and evolve the corporate strategy that provides the north star for the next phase of the journey.One of the techniques that Atlassian used was continuous experimentation. Beyond A/B testing for tactical enhancements, the need for additional market research to understand how the market is evolving, including competitive presence and user expectations.If you are preparing for the next stage of growth, and on the path to maintaining hyper-growth at scale, this conversation with Carilus is a great listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Anthony Kennada, is the founder and CEO of AudiencePlus and formerly the Chief Marketing Officer at Hopin and Gainsight...quite the pedigree!Anthony joined our host, Ray Rike to discuss the evolving nature of community and content led-growth, which is a strategy and topic trending across every B2B SaaS CMO. Anthony takes the topic a step further and highlights why "Owned Media" is a critical component in every B2B SaaS CMOs Go-to-Market strategy.Anthony's experience in using content and community at Gainsight serves as the foundation for Anthony's vision for AudiencePlus and its customers. Over the past few years, community development has traditionally been focused on the customer, but over the last few years expanding the reach of the content and the inclusion of all stakeholders interested in the topics the brand is creating and evangelizing has become a key part of the Marketing strategy to create a "halo" effect around the brand.Anthony was involved in building the Gainsight "Pulse" community from the ground up. During the early days, Gainsight took the role of building the stage for the leading thinkers in Customer Success, but not being at the center of the stage which developed an authenticity of helping to build a profession, not just a company.Second, Gainsight did not focus much on its product - but rather on the information on how to build, manage and scale a Customer Success team. Over time, as the market evolved and matured - then the opportunity to gradually introduce more about the Gainsight Customer Success Platform as the community grew.Lastly, when Gainsight first started hosting events - they did not measure the ROI by the revenue generated from the annual Pulse event - but by the pipeline and ultimate revenue generated as a by product of the event.Over the past few years - the event landscape has changed and building community is facing new headwinds. First, there is so much noise in the market that it is much harder to break through the noise. The second challenge is the distribution of content, as budgets have decreased and the cost of "paid media" continues to increase. The third challenge is that the rules of social media continue to evolve and an example the recent decision by Twitter to not allow links to content on Substack.AudiencePlus is positioned as the first "owned-media platform for marketers". Anthony defines owned media as using a more rich editorial format of content beyond blog posts to break through the noise. One example is taking a podcast and breaking it into multiple clips, both audio and video to create more audience engagement. The "owned" media component is creating rich, educational, and engaging content that motivates the audience to view a company's content and community as a destination for people who are like-minded and they feel like they belong to something bigger - a community of their peers.If you are a CEO, CRO, or CMO exploring how to leverage content, media, and community to engage your target audience, and establish a thought leadership role for the community of buyers you seek to serve, this conversation with Anthony Kennada, Founder and CEO of AudiencePlus is a must listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
What a Unicorn Knows is a best selling book by Pablo Dominguez, Operating Partner at Insight Partners on how leading entrepreneurs use lean principles to drive sustainable growthSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Matthew Dixon is the author of The Challenger Sale, The Challenger Customer, and now he adds The JOLT Effect to his list of best-selling books for B2B Sales professionals.During this episode, Matt shares his insights on how B2B Sales professionals can help buyers to avoid the risk of the dreaded "no decision" which represents how 40% - 60% of qualified B2B opportunities end.Matt considers himself a "sales anthropologist" which highlights his deep research-based approach to understanding why buyers buy, and how the best B2B Sales professionals help their buyers become customers.The basis of The JOLT Effect was listening to 2.5 Million sales conversations using conversational intelligence to identify common themes in the buying process. Those predictive signals were segmented into which were most predictive of a "Win" versus a "Closed-Lost No Decision". This was made possible as COVID required the majority of B2B Sales conversations to be virtual, and that made it much easier to capture sales calls in a digital format to apply Machine Learning to those 2.5M sales conversations.The research identified three major reasons that buyers end up in "indecision" which represents 56% of deals that end in "No Decision". Those primary reasons include:Valuation ProblemsLack of InformationOutcome UncertaintyValuation Problems are highlighted by having too many choices and it being hard to determine which solution is best positioned to address the challenges of the current state and have the highest probability of achieving the outcomes that were used as the basis for the purchase decision and investmentLack of Information is the buyer continues to think they need more information before they can make a decision that is most likely to end in success versus failure, where failure is the #1 concern of most buyers. This invokes the fear of "omission bias" which is a powerful human need not to experience blame because of a decision they make. "FOMU" which stands for Fear of Messing Up is a much more powerful emotion that Fear of Missing Out which is often the tactic that B2B Sales professionals use to incent a positive purchase decision.Outcome Uncertainty is when the buyer is concerned that the actual return on investment will be hard to achieve, and they are better served to maintain the "status quo" versus not achieving the ROI they projected to justify the purchase. FOMUOne interesting aspect of "outcome uncertainty", is that sales professionals that effectively "set expectations" that are not overwhelming or hard to believe by the buyer. Using the simple concept of under promise and over deliver, and being able to balance expectations leads to an increased win rate from 20% to 51% when B2B Sales professionals can effectively set expectations that the buyer believes are achievable.Another learning was how to determine the reason for "buyer indecision". JOLT stands for: 1) Judge the reason for indecision; 2) Offer a recommendation on how to move forward; 3) Limit the exploration and Take Risks off the table.87% of sales calls have buyers who exhibit some level of moderate to severe indecision. How to judge the reason for indecision first requires "active listening". Then the technique of "ping and echos" by offering potential reasons for indecision (the fear) to the buyer to uncover potential reasons for a sales cycle resulting in no decision.When it comes to "Offering" a recommendation, the research shows an increase in win rates from 14% to 36% when a B2B Sales professional diagnoses the needs, problems, and/or concerns and then offers a recommendation versus not providing solutions to address the uncovered reasons for purchasing or not purchasing.If you are a B2B Sales professional or lead a company or function that is responsible for converting prospects into customers, this conversation with Matt Dixon, the author of The JOLT effect is a high-value listen!!!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Defining the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a hot topic in almost every early-stage B2B SaaS company. It begins with some assumptions and then is refined over time based on the acquired customer profile that represents those early customers who purchase a company's solution. This evolves to which customer profile cohort has the best customer acquisition metrics such as average annual contract value, win rate, and sales cycle length.Dan Sperring, the founder and CEO Align has a different perspective...the best ideal customer profile cohort is determined by the segment(s) that have the best Net Revenue Retention (NRR) rate. Since NRR measures both customer retention rates in dollars (Gross Dollar Retention) + Expansion ARR in dollars, it is the ultimate compound metric to determine if a customer will buy, stick around, and expand their relationship over time.If you are considering how best to define and/or refine your ideal customer profile cohort(s) - this conversation with Dan is thought-provoking and insightful as to why NRR can best guide which prospects to pursueSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are at the forefront of the majority of strategic discussions across the B2B SaaS and Cloud industry.Paul Roetzer started as a journalist and then leveraged that writing expertise into founding a marketing agency. Due to the launch of Watson by IBM, Paul's curiosity about how AI could impact Marketing started his journey to becoming an industry expert in how B2B companies are and could leverage AI to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Marketing. In 2016 Paul founded and launched the Marketing AI Institute within his agency, and then spun it off as a separate company in 2019.How has the use of AI by B2B marketers changed over the past couple of years? Paul believes the inflection point started in the spring of 2021. First, Sam Altman - CEO of OpenAI/ChatGPT published the seminal article - Moore's Law for Everything. Then, Genius Makers, a book by Cade Metz, a writer for the New York Times was published.Paul was confused why AI did not take off earlier in 2011 when AI teams at Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were first formed. He concludes that he overestimated how quickly AI would go mainstream and underestimated the impact it was going to have on the industry, the economy, and the world. The public release of ChatGPT was the catalytic moment for AI awareness to become mainstream.Why has AI taken so long to be adopted by industry? Paul discusses hundreds of use cases that have been in place for 5+ years, around strategy and personalization. The challenge was the majority of marketing leaders did not know how to best leverage the power of AI, nor the accessibility which was still difficult to access, leverage, and exploit previous to the public release of ChatGPT.In the Bessemer Venture Partners "State of the Cloud 2023" one of their 5 predictions is that the initial value of AI will accrue to the individual users not to the entire company. In the spring, of 2023 Paul wrote an article entitled " The law of uneven AI distribution". The perspective shared in the article is that until C-Level executives begin to understand the full value of AI they will not lead the adoption across their department. A second point is that access will need to be granted to employees as in many industries and regions of the world access is still limited. Paul's third point is that executives will need to understand the risk, reward, and investment trade-offs required before they will fully support a broad-based roll-out of AI across their companies - especially in regulated industries.The "HOT TAKE" moment in the episode was at minute 12:40 when Paul shared that he believes many B2B SaaS companies will become obsolete quickly, It's hard to know what the "moats" are for many B2B SaaS providers beyond data and distribution. B2B SaaS organizations that have proprietary data to help tune generative, LLM-based models will have an unfair advantage, and a large customer base is best positioned to ride the AI wave and further differentiate and protect themselves from traditional B2B SaaS competitors.A highly defensible moat is that the companies that have the most data to train and tune AI models, such as the 4 Billion+ miles of training data that Tesla has amassed over the last 10 years. Salesforce is a great example of a company with large datasets that could form the foundation for the highly defensible application of AI.Paul believes that a B2B technology company that does not have a roadmap for AI, and resources to build or integrated into their core product will not be VC fundable in the future - if not already. The ability to quickly develop, deploy and refine AI-centric functionality will be table stakes for legacy Saas vendors or early-stage companies will be able to quickly eclipse incumbent vendors UNLESS they have applied AI to their data and distribution assets.How do Marketers being to embrace and utilize AI for their department? First, in a problem-based model, Marketers need to identify those problems/challenges that are most prominent in their department, the benefits of solving those issues, and then assess if there is smarter "AI" technology to address the top challenges in a prioritized, rank order.The second approach is to use a "task-based" approach and identify those activities their marketing team is executing daily, and how can AI increase their efficiency. Paul shared the 21-step process he uses to publish their podcast, how they use AI tools for half of the steps, and reduced time spent per episode from 15 - 20 hours to 3 -5 hours.Paul's closing advice to early career professionals - raise your hand in your organization and take the lead on building or being a leader in an "AI Council" in your company. Simultaneously become a student of AI and specifically how it can be used to increase personal efficiency, and company effectiveness and create your position as a future leader for the company.If you are a B2B Go-to-Market executive, work for a B2B GTM executive, or have B2B GTM executives work for you - listen to the conversation with Paul Roetzer, Founder and CEO at the Marketing AI Institute.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Imagine being a senior product leader at Microsoft for one of the leading "cloud products" in the industry, Azure Data Factory, and deciding to leave the stability, security, and prestige behind to launch your own B2B SaaS company. This is exactly the decision and journey that Anand Subbaraj began five years ago.Anand spent 13 years at Microsoft but was fortunate to be involved with five different product launches (V1) over 13 years, with a primary focus on understanding the market and customer requirements. By being part of the founding team at Azure Data Factory, Anand learned what it took to take on established industry leaders, with a product that had not previously been introduced to the market.Anand's experience with new product introductions at Microsoft, Anand had a personal experience in servicing his refrigerator at home, which served as the catalyst that customer service was ripe for transformation. After having three different service technicians have to make six visits to fix the issue, Anand was sure there had to be a better way to leverage automation to transform field service.As a result, Zuper was launched. What learnings has Anand had starting, growing, and leading his own company? First, Anand gained an understanding that Marketing is about investing to build a brand and market awareness, and is more science than art.Anand also learned a lot about cold calling, and what is required to make the first sales in a newly formed B2B SaaS company. By taking the lead on all initial outreach for Zuper, Anand was able to directly hear from the market on what they wanted and/or needed to consider transforming how they were managing the field service process. Anand also learned that without the "Microsoft" brand, that persistence in cold calling was critical to gaining early traction.Anand executive the "founder-led sales" model from $0 to $1M ARR. By taking this responsibility himself, not only did he have direct access to product requirement input from the market, but he could also hand over a "sales process" that worked to acquire the first $1M ARR. Anand leaned on "Marketing" first to create awareness and demand before hiring his first professional Sale resource.Identifying a gap in the marketplace is a key ingredient to the idea to launch a new company. At Zuper, Anand identified that many companies were viewing field service management automation as an extension of CRM. Second, consumers now expect a seamless experience like Uber, while companies require the ability to configure their processes within an automation platform, not to force their process to adapt to take advantage of the B2B SaaS platform.Understanding and being able to measure the business value delivered to the customer is critical for early-stage B2B SaaS companies. First, the ability to improve efficiency in the business process being automated, second is improving the productivity of the field service workforce, such as spending less time on driving to the next appointment and more time on fixing the customer's issue. In the Zuper example, measuring the "first-time fix rate" of new service tickets is a key benefit, and the Zuper customers see a 30% increase in the first-time fix rate by having the right technician, the right parts, and the right tools.When asked what "SaaS metrics" Anand uses, here is what he shared:Top Lagging Indicators Used:ARR and ARR GrowthCustomer ChurnBurn RateCash runwayTop Leading Indicators Used:Product UsageCustomer Acquisition CostCustomer Lifetime ValueCAC Payback Period (new)If you are a product leader or in a large stable company today, but considering launching your own B2B Saas company, this conversation with Anand Subbaraj is a great listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Over the past two months, we have hosted the founders and CEOs of the leading SaaS Spend Management vendors.Sid Sridharan, the founder of Spendflo was formerly an executive in an "electric vehicle" charging infrastructure company and experienced the challenges of controlling SaaS spend in an early-stage, fast growing company. Sid's interaction (not all positive) with his own CFO regarding their SaaS spend inspired Sid to found a company that was purpose-built to address the very challenge his CFO presented Sid.How does Sid define SaaS Spend Management? Sid responded that Payroll is the number one spend in a company, and it has already been automated. Over the last few years, SaaS has become a top 3 spend, and is an area that is still not automated in the majority of companies - and most early-stage companies do not have the resources or time to manage it internally.Another topic we discussed was "How does SaaS Spend Management support and embrace the decentralized nature of SaaS purchases?" Sid first offered a CFOs perspective, which is when SaaS purchasing is decentralized and the associated expense is growing 25% per year, centralized control is required. Moreover, since the average SaaS tool has 9 competitors, the amount of time it takes to truly evaluate all the alternatives is greater than any one company can resource - thus they may be missing some great options for their requirements.Sid shared that they take a holistic approach to SaaS Spend Management starting with the discovery of existing SaaS Tools used, facilitating the purchasing of new SaaS tools, renewing existing SaaS tools, and managing overall SaaS Spend and utilization.One of the primary differences that Spendflo provides is the first-party data across their ecosystem, using a single platform to understand SaaS tool utilization and user sentiment. When we double-clicked on "user sentiment", Sid highlighted that once a customer invests time selecting a SaaS tool, it is hard to measure ROI, which is a key area that Spendflo focuses on, which is especially important in preparing for renewal decisions. By running usage and sentiment data continuously over the term of the agreement, it empowers the leaders to understand how users feel about the tool, including user satisfaction and user sentiment across two variables; 1) How important is the tool to business value and; 2) Would you be upset if this tool was taken awayWhen is the best stage of evolution to introduce a SaaS Spend Management Solution? Sid highlighted 50 - 60 people with the expectation to grow to 100 - 200 people, as the growth in SaaS spend will increase materially during this stage of growth. Sid also highlighted that $250K in SaaS spend is another inflection point to deploy a centralized SaaS Spend Management process.If you are responsible for any SaaS tool purchasing, management, and/or the budget, this conversation with Sid is a great listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
State of the Cloud 2023: Top Five Predictions:#1: Efficient GrowthAdopt new solutions to gain control of their Cloud and SaaS spend, including the infrastructure cost to deliver SaaS Solutions. Tools include Cloud FinOps tools, SaaS Spend Solutions, and engineering productivity tools to improve R&D processes.One of the areas of focus is on Cloud Spend as a way to manage the Cost of Goods Sold and thus increase Gross Margin which sets the ceiling for Saas profitability. Public SaaS companies with Gross Margins under 50% have a hard time driving Free Cash Flow of 20% or greater which is critical to enterprise value multiples.Some examples of tools to gain control of Cloud Spend are included in the Bessemer Ventures technical playbook of 40 tactics to drive profitable growth - this playbook can be found on Atlas on the website - the report is called the "CEOs tactical guide to drive profitable growth".#2: Climate Software will drive the Green Energy TransitionWith the increase in consumer activism and government regulation, the green energy revolution is here. To support this green economy, cloud software that is tailored made to power the transition to green energy will explode. Examples are software dedicated to solar, infrastructure, sustainable design, and fossil fuel infrastructure transition.#3: Initial value of AI will be to the userThe AI and Large Language Model business ecosystems are evolving quickly. Bessemer believes the ultimate winner is the user to increase individual productivity at work and in their personal lives. AI research is now democratized so end users can have access to and build upon the latest AI capabilities.One example is ChatGPT being released to the general public and acquiring over 100 million users in the first three months - the faster-growing internet site ever!!!Bessemer calls the current AI revolution a B2C2B motion. This highlights the consumer excitement about the benefits of AI, which will in return bring these tools and techniques to the corporate workplace.#4: The application layer is where the most impact from AI will happen firstDue to the democratization of access to AI, the power of AI will be available to any company, that can embed AI without their own AI team. This will make horizontal B2B SaaS companies to provide AI driven workflows and processes without the need for a large internal AI development team.With the number of transactions in many SaaS platforms, the opportunity to accelerate the insights to enhance business process efficiency.#5: AI companies will grow twice as fast as traditional B2B Cloud companiesBessemer predicts the time the best AI companies will require to grow from $100M to $1B will be 50% faster than the historic fastest growers like Canva, Zoom, and Twilio. That is truly impressive as these companies scaled from $100M to $1B in four years or less!If you are a student of the Cloud industry or just SaaS-curious about where the industry is heading - the Bessemer Venture Partners "State of the Cloud 2023" is a great read and this podcast discussing the top five predictions is a must-listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
In Episode #1 of this 2-episode conversation, Ray discusses the key findings from the Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) annual "State of the Cloud" report for 2023 with Janelle Teng, Vice President and co-author of this year's report.Janelle is involved in many different research programs at BVP, including the "State of the Cloud" and the "Scaling to $100M ARR" reports.In this first episode of the "State of the Cloud 2023" report, we focus on the change in B2B Cloud company valuations in 2022 and the current state of the industry.Public cloud companies experienced the "SaaSacre" of 2022. Interest rates shocked the cloud industry in 2022 resulting in a greater than 40% reduction in public cloud company value. The forward trading multiple of public cloud companies is now below the long-term average and were halved in 2022.There are glimmers of hope from the Q123 timeframe. One example is Microsoft reported better than expected earnings in Q1, fueled by the interest in AI. These large tech companies are a great index for the smaller, private Cloud companies. The Cloud index is up about 5% in Q123, which provides hope for the re-emergence of Cloud valuations.Even with the aggressive pullback in public cloud company valuations, the average BVP Index cloud company has grown 50% faster than a traditional company - over a 10-year horizon.When will "Venture Capital" funding return to a more normalized state? Janelle asked the 60 investment professionals at BVP when will be the best time for a founder to raise VC money? The top timeframe forecasted was 2H24' with 1H24' being the second forecasted period for raising a round from Venture Capital. However, 1H23' was still in the running - highlighting the excitement around the current AI boom.The number of VC deals and the amount of VC funding in Q123 was down from the previous year and the previous quarter, so the turnaround in VC deal velocity is still in front of us.In the second half of my conversation, Episode 2 with Janelle, she shares the TOP 5 predictions for the Cloud in 2023!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Former VP of Marketing at Hopin and event industry thought leader Julius Solaris joined me on the latest episode of the Metrics that Measure Up Podcast. Julius has been involved in the event industry for over two decades, and has been involved in the creation and successful exits of two different event technology platforms - so provides a very unique perspective on where the event industry has been and where it is headed...First, we discussed the evolution of events in B2B Marketing. Events are often the first variable marketing program to be reduced during uncertain economic times. Covid introduced a new dynamic, with the growth of virtual events as the only way for people to gather. This created a tidal wave of virtual event platforms, events, and associated content. In 2023, the pendulum is aggressively swinging back to in-person events, including over $6.2B of acquisitions of event companies in the first quarter of 2023 alone.The definition of "events" has never been more fluid, with virtual, hybrid, physical, asynchronous, and recorded events. Then we introduced the concept of "Event-Led Growth", which Julius defines as a Go-to-Market strategy that sees the full spectrum of events at the core of your GTM and customer engagement strategy. This concept is gaining speed because the future of social media is in flux around the world, AI is a new and unknown factor, and events are the most personal, human mode of interacting with a brand and engagement at the individual level.Event-Led growth also provides an opportunity for "content creation" to take the forefront of target market engagement. Where does "community" play in the event-led growth model? Professional associations are a great example of an industry community, and they often come together once a year at an event. Today, virtual communities can form quickly, as exhibited by the grassroots "AI Community" of 1,000+ people that came together in San Francisco - all stimulated by one tweet from an AI thought leader. In fact, in strong communities, event marketing is not a large requirement, as those community members will attend based on the strength of the community bonds that form from previous in-person and virtual events.Julius mentioned the importance of ongoing virtual gatherings, like the SaaStr weekly webinar to build upon and nurture the relationships developed at the annual in-person event - a case study of the importance of continuous community engagement through a combinate of virtual and in-person events.Over time, Julius believes that the event industry will evolve to "company-owned events" versus the larger, mega-industry events that defined the previous generation of events. Due to the saturation of "content" available on digital media, people are craving an opportunity for connection that is only achieved at events with a shared asset - communities with a common interest.One topic we discussed was what happens when events become "too big" to foster intimate, personal interactions. Mass customization becomes harder over time, which is why satellite events and vendor-sponsored satellite events become the "smaller, intimate" venue for personal relationships to be formed and nurtured. One strategy for vendors is to secure a small booth at the event itself and create a satellite experience outside of the main venue.Julius provided advice on how to be a company's event-led growth strategy. Virtual events provide a low-cost way to being building a community through events. This is especially attractive due to the availability of technology platforms for virtual events. This creates the foundation for building a community and then provides a platform for creating multiple "individual digital assets" that can be re-purposed across multiple channels to maximize reach and engagement from a single virtual event.I had to ask Julius about how to engage virtual event attendees in tactics, like virtual booths and lounges. This has not worked very well in the early days of virtual events, primarily because event sponsors did not invest enough time on this topic. Activation of virtual event attendees needs to be "content-led", supported by a strategic communications strategy, pre, and post-event by the event host and the sponsors.If you are considering leveraging an "event-led" strategy to create awareness, build engagement, and develop a community of your own, this conversation with Julius Solaris is chalked full of great insights and ideas.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Excel is the #1 tool B2B SaaS companies use for many financial tasks, including calculating SaaS metrics to surface insights for operating decisions and investor updates.Ali started his career in tech as an auditor at Ernst and Young, with a priority focus on revenue recognition and reporting. While auditing a top tier B2B SaaS company, he was provided multiple spreadsheets with thousands of rows of data, and it even required almost 10 minutes to just open the Excel file, and almost 6 months to complete the audit. The primary challenge, finding all of the data required for the audit in an extremely large and poorly structured Excel model.What are the top signs that a founder/CEO will see to know it might be time to move beyond Excel? Ali suggests at $1M and above that Quickbooks is a fine General Ledger, but the initial issues are associated with revenue recognition and the associated reporting. Often, this is due to not having the right human resources who truly understand revenue recognition policy, and then the manual required to create a model and the appropriate formulas for revenue recognition.One sign that Excel might not be doing the job, is if revenue is being recognized on a cash basis. Another sign might be when an investor asks what your "MRR or ARR" is, and you realize it includes professional services or one-time fees. Why is getting revenue recognition important to an early-stage company? It becomes important when external stakeholders, like existing or potential investors, ask for things like GAAP revenue growth rates, and ARR growth rates and you cannot provide the answers because the financial foundation and reporting infrastructure have not been established.Inevitably if you are quickly heading to $1M ARR or already above that level, founders and CEOs are expected to know their numbers. One common tactic is to hire an external accountant, and ask them to set up revenue recognition and other financial reporting in Excel - the challenge with this is that it is not scalable, and if the "rent an accountant" goes away, it is hard for the next resource to understand the excel model.Next, we discussed the reality of ASC 606 (GAAP accounting policy), and how it impacts the need for more advanced financial reporting capabilities. ASC 606 includes very complex and nuanced accounting rules that Excel is just not well positioned to be the primary solution for modeling and reporting GAAP revenue and the associated financial metrics such as Gross Profit, EBITDA, and Net Income.The most important initial SaaS metric is Contracted ARR, and ARR including growth rates. Quickly following is the ability to understand Sales and Marketing expenses and the associated customer acquisition cost efficiency metrics including Customer Acquisition Cost, and CAC Payback Period. Cash burn and cash runway are other critical insights that a founder/CEO needs to ensure are available and accurate early on.When I asked Ali about other SaaS Metrics, he highlighted a recent example where a company wanted to start reporting their CARR and ARR, and they close a majority of deals mid-month. They were confused about how they report ARR for the month the contract was signed, and how those decisions impact the associated recognized revenue (GAAP revenue).If you are an early-stage SaaS company and are having challenges with Excel to capture, calculate and report basis SaaS financials including GAAP revenue, CARR, ARR and the associated SaaS performance metrics the conversation with Ali Rizvi is highly informative.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
The Alexander Group works with many of the leading companies in the B2B SaaS industry, and I was recently joined by Ted Grossman, their co-lead of the technology industry practice, and Davis Giedt, Director of Research and Analytics.Based upon Ted and Davis' unique insights and understanding of B2B SaaS due to the discussions and data from over one hundred customers, coupled with their historic Sales Compensation research and benchmarks with has become an industry standard.My first question was how has the use of SaaS metrics evolved. Ted's perspective is the core metrics have not changed that much over the past few years - rather it is the weight that is placed on specific metrics, especially growth vs profitability. As an example in 2021 and the first half of 2022, the weight was much higher on growth rate versus profitability metrics. One example is the Rule of 40 has increased in importance as measured by R-Squared by 3x over the last 6 months. As such "Margin + Growth" is much more balanced in 2023.Ted highlighted "expense to revenue" as a top priority at the macro level. This is also a very easy metric to benchmark against the industry. Then you can dive down into more granular revenue growth efficiency metrics such as "Profitability by Sales rep. Other things like the CAC Payback Period which measures the amount of time to pay back the acquisition of a new customer. Net and Gross Retention Rates are also high-priority metrics to understand the efficacy of retaining and expanding revenue with existing customers.What about the importance of changing the mix of revenue growth from new customers versus existing customers? The story varies in every company and depends on company-specific attributes such as do they have multiple products, or do they have a product that can expand usage to additional users, departments, or business units within an existing customer.When I asked Davis the "top" metrics he prefers, they included:Sales and Marketing expense to revenue which tests for every dollar invested in revenue growth, how much is returned on both a new and top-line revenue basis. Davis shared a 35% - 40% S&M expense to revenue as a good benchmark for growth companiesCost of Growth, sometimes known as the SaaS Magic number measures the top-line revenue growth versus Sales and Marketing investment, which has a range of .5 (poor), .75 - 1 (good), and > 1 (best)CLTV:CAC measures the amount of Gross Profit (or Revenue minus Cost of Goods Sold) generated against the revenue a new customer generates over the life of a customer. A CLTV:CAC ratio of 3x is good, though has been increasing over the past 2-3 years. CLTV:CAC ratio is a long-term ROI measurementNext, we discussed the topic of "consistency of metric calculation" when using industry benchmarks. Davis highlighted that for their clients they use one standard metric calculation formula to ensure when they are benchmarking it is an apples-to-apples comparison. One specific example was if you are trying to measure the efficiency of growing new customer ARR versus existing customer growth ARR, things like a "time study" may need to be conducted to properly allocate expenses to the pursuit of each growth ARR type.If you are a B2B SaaS company leader, the discussion with Ted and Davis provides some unique insights and perspectives that only come with the unique visibility they have across hundreds of leading B2B companies.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Matt Wolach is the founder of Xsellus and host of the Scale your SaaS podcast. Matt is one of those guests that have taken over a year to be on the Metrics that Measure Up podcast. Matt has hosted over 250 episodes of "Scale your SaaS" and was one of the inspirations for this podcast.The first question I asked Matt was about the common attributes that successful SaaS founders exhibited. By being a podcast host, Matt found he often learned more than he shares. However, one of the common themes of the most successful founders was the amount of time they invest in getting to know and understand their potential customers. Those discussions to dive into the mind of their potential customers was a key to success, and Matt recommends the goal should be to have about 50 of those discussions, versus the 3-5 that far too many founders conduct.What are the top three challenges that Matt sees early-stage companies face:1) Lead generation/Pipeline which often early-stage companies over-index on one or two channels. Matt recommends finding 4 - 5 channels that work, and then continuously optimize each channel. Matt says there are 18 ways to generate leads in a B2B Saa company, including commonly missed lead sources such as a defined lead referral process with current customers. Other missed lead sources such as influencers and affiliate programs are undervalued.2) Ability to close qualified leads is another inconsistent competency of many early-stage companies, which is especially dangerous if significant money is being invested in Marketing and lead generation activities. Matt suggests fixing the qualified lead to Closed-Won process before investing more in additional lead generation.3) Lead form/demo form to demo completed is surprisingly a big leak for many early-stage companies. Matt shared the story that one of his new customers did not even measure the number of people requesting to be contacted or have a demo. The inbound demo request-to-demo completed ratio is a critical conversion rate that far too many companies do not measure. Matt said that an average of 42% of people who request a meeting or demo actually end up having a meeting with the vendor - meaning 58% of high-intent leads are not actually being followed up with timely.What metric does Matt like for B2B Saas companies in the $1M - $5M ARR range? Matt said the Customer Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost Ratio (CLTV:CAC Ratio) is one of his favorite metrics. Essentially with the industry standards that Matt shared a 3:1 CLTV:CAC ratio is a good goal, it means that for every dollar you invest in Sales and Marketing, $3 of gross profit is generated. The latest RevOps Squared benchmarks show that a 4:1 CLTV:CAC Ratio is the new benchmark.If you are an early-stage B2B SaaS company, this conversation with Matt Wolach, the founder of Xsellus is a great listen.See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
Eric Christopher, the founder, and CEO of Zylo is sitting on top of one of the industry's largest SaaS spend data repositories and thus benchmarks, a key reason I knew I needed to have Eric as a guest on the podcast.What was the catalyst for founding Zylo? It started with Eric's experience as a revenue leader in two social media platform companies. Eric realized that by introducing new solutions directly to the Marketing department, it was becoming difficult for companies to manage and govern SaaS spend."A business idea with complexity is worth pursuing" - the words an advisor shared with Eric which was part of the motivation to founding Zylo! Since anyone in a company can be a buyer of a SaaS solution, coupled with the existence of thousands of vendors with very different features and pricing, buying a SaaS product is complex. Moreover, measuring the value is very difficult and often, ill-defined.How does Eric define SaaS Spend Management? "Helping companies manage, measure and maximize value from every SaaS application purchased". The lifecycle of a SaaS solution starts with understanding how to receive the best price, and then how to optimize the value received. Questions to ask include, are employees using the product, are they receiving value, and how does the value compare to other solutions with similar functionality? Zylo uses a "value framework" that starts with understanding every application being used through a discovery process. Next, is being able to manage adoption and usage, which may be as much about maximizing value versus reducing costs. Next, identify opportunities for cost avoidance, while considering the renewal process to know the best terms based on the current utilization rates. Finally, gaining visibility into the existence and usage of every SaaS product in a company materially increases the ability to have the governance and controls in place to purchase, utilize, renew, and purchase the right products in the future.One surprising aspect of SaaS sprawl is that many organizations do not know what SaaS solutions are being used by their employees and the associated expenses! The best SaaS Spend management programs start with the ability to conduct "discovery" to identify all the SaaS tools being used in a company....but when is it the right time to consider implementing a SaaS Spend Management solution?Eric highlighted that when you are hitting $1M - $2M in annual SaaS spend is one milestone. Another milestone is that at 500 employees if you do not have a SaaS Spend Management program in place - alarms should be sounding. ...however, Eric shared that it is never too early to introduce a more structured SaaS purchasing, management, and governance process.Zylo is sitting on a treasure trove of "SaaS Spend Management" data from over $30B in annual SaaS spending across industries including a few of the below :SaaS spend by employee has increased by 50% over the last 2 yearsSaaS spend has been increasing by over 20% per year for several yearsTotal SaaS spend is underreported by 50% due to decentralized purchasing The average company has over 300 "paid" SaaS subscriptionsThis increases to > 1,000 in Enterprise companiesInterestingly, the cost of the SaaS spend may not be the primary opportunity for many companies, it may be minimizing the risk of not managing and governing the flow of data outside of the company!Several new trends in SaaS spend will be disclosed in the Zylo Benchmark report being published on April 4th, 2023!If you are interested in the evolution of purchasing and managing SaaS spend in your company, this product with Eric is a great listen!See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at
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