Going Deep or Broad with the Product

One of the product questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves early on is if they’re going to go deep or broad with the application. In general, as customers ask for new features, they have a tendency to be broader requests (e.g. can you add adjacent feature XYZ?). Keep in mind the importance of product focus, especially the part about being opinionated.

Here are a few questions to ask when considering going deep or broad:

  • Is this product a point solution or a platform (everyone wants to be a platform but point solutions are much more common)?
  • Does this feature request strengthen an existing feature or does it introduce a new concept?
  • Are customers asking for more product depth or more product breadth, generally?
  • Does the product roadmap reflect more depth or breadth? Is that direction intentional?
  • How does depth and breadth reflect reflect the current customer base vs the desired customer base (e.g. entrepreneurs often want to expand upmarket over time)?

Entrepreneurs would do well to think through their product strategy when it comes to going deep or broad with the application. Deep is the more common successful route.

What else? What are some more thoughts on going deep or broad with the product?

Atlanta Startup Village #39

Tomorrow night at the Atlanta Tech Village is Atlanta Startup Village (ASV) #39. ASV is free to the public and the largest monthly gathering of entrepreneurs in the Southeast. Here are the presenting startups:

  • HandiCRM – full featured CRM for general contractors
  • The Memory Kit – Where memories live
  • Flippy – Become the star of famous clips
  • Sifted – Pop-up lunches as a perk
  • SidePrize – Weekly cash prizes for your fantasy league

Please join us at the event and connect with fellow entrepreneurs.

27 SaaS Products for the Marketing Department

After the post on 35 SaaS Marketing Products @ 1 Startup, a number of people asked me what products they used. While I don’t have the exact list of apps, here’s most of the free and paid apps the marketing department of the sub 100 person company uses:

  1. Salesforce.com – CRM
  2. Pardot – Marketing automation
  3. SalesLoft – Sales development (inbound response reps on the marketing team use SalesLoft to respond to leads)
  4. Google Analytics – Web analytics
  5. Google AdWords – Ad platform
  6. LinkedIn Ads – Ad platform
  7. Facebook Ads – Ad platform
  8. WorkGreat – Marketing analytics + reports
  9. Terminus – Account-based marketing
  10. Calendly – Calendar scheduling
  11. Moz – SEO analytics
  12. Buffer – Social media scheduling
  13. MeetEdgar – Social media content recycling
  14. Captora – Bulk landing page generation
  15. Optimizely – A/B testing
  16. Zapier – Cloud integration
  17. Unbounce – Landing pages
  18. WPEngine – WordPress hosting
  19. Zopim – Live chat
  20. ON24 – Webinar management
  21. GoToMeeting – Screen sharing
  22. Sigstr – Employee email signatures
  23. Intercom – Customer communication
  24. Vidyard – Video management
  25. LeadData – Campaign attribution
  26. Bizable – Marketing attribution
  27. Everstring – Predictive account discovery

Some later additions:

A small business marketing department using 27 products is on the high side, but not unreasonable. Look for the number of marketing department apps to grow over time as more useful point solutions come on the market.

What else? What are some more apps you’d add to this list for a marketing department?

35 SaaS Marketing Products @ 1 Startup

Yesterday I was talking to the head of marketing at a fast-growing, <100 person SaaS startup. We were talking about the modern marketing stack and he mentioned that they pay for 35 different SaaS products. Yes, 35 different marketing apps at one small business. Some of the app categories included marketing automation, social media management, A/B testing, SEO analytics, etc.

Here are a few questions that come to mind:

  • Is there an upper limit to how many marketing apps a small business will use?
  • When does app fatigue set in?
  • How many are apps require daily work vs ones that are set it and forget it?
  • How is reporting done across so many apps?

SaaS is unique in that once the business has $500,000 in recurring revenue, it’s hard to kill. Thus, there’s a huge cottage industry of SaaS marketing apps that provide value. It’ll be interesting to watch the industry over time and see how it plays out. My prediction: there’s no upper limit of marketing apps and we’ll keep seeing more and more.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea that there are 35 SaaS marketing products at one small business?

4 Reasons to Add an SDR Team

Earlier today I was talking with a couple of sales leaders about Sales Development Reps (SDRs). One leader was a big proponent of SDRs and the other didn’t have any experience with them. From the discussion, I took away four reasons to add an SDR team:

  1. SDRs help make the more expensive, and more experienced, account executives more productive
  2. SDRs, with their focus on appointment setting, are more efficient than full-stack sales reps, which are spread thin across a variety of functions (setting appointments, doing discovery calls, facilitating meetings, delivering proposals, and closing deals)
  3. SDRs are effectively a training ground for future account executives thereby acting as a talent development pipeline
  4. SDRs are also a training ground for non-sales roles like support and customer success

Startups should evaluate these four reasons to add an SDR team, and once a positive decision is made, review these 7 Quick SDR Tips for Startups.

What else? What are some more reasons to add an SDR team?

Hindsight, Insight, and Foresight

Lately I’ve been thinking more about about going beyond merely looking at backward-looking data and metrics (e.g. The Definitive List of Weekly Operational Metrics for SaaS Startups) and learning how historical data can be used to inform what will happen (predictive analytics). Derek Kane has a Slideshare titled Building and Sustaining Predictive Analytics Capabilities. On slide 26 he defines hindsight, insight, and foresight.

  • Hindsight – What is happening?
  • Insight – Why is it happening?
  • Foresight – What will happen? What should happen?

As startups mature and improve their operational excellence, insight and foresight become logical additions to the weekly business review. Entrepreneurs would do well so start asking the questions “Why is it happening?” and “What will happen?”

What else? What are some more thoughts on hindsight, insight, and foresight?

7 Quick SDR Tips for Startups

As more startups hire sales development reps (SDRs) to set appointments and schedule demos, it’s important to learn best practices and increase the chance of success. Building an SDR team, like any job function, takes time to figure out what does, and doesn’t work. Thankfully, there are a number of great resources online. Here are seven quick SDR tips:

  1. Start by reading the Predictable Revenue book
  2. Build a sales playbook
  3. Hire sales reps ahead of plan
  4. Always hire reps in pairs
  5. Make sure inside sales makes sense
  6. Require a written assessment in the hiring process
  7. Map out the sales process

Use these seven SDR tips and build a great team. The SDR function is the most important sales process innovation in the last 10 years.

What else? What are some more SDR tips for startups?