The Daily Briefing - April 28, 2020 - SaaS companies COVID-19 Impact & Preparing for What's Next

April 28, 2020

In today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Zach Anderson, CRO of productboard. They discussed how SaaS companies are adapting to current challenges, and how they should prepare for what's next. Here are the numbers: + Meeting volume up 7% WoW for SaaS companies + Overall cold call dials are down 67% since March, down 3% week over week. + Relative Connect Rate is down 8% since last week + First meeting volume up slightly (2%) week over week for Account Executives, up 4% since pre-COVID + Follow up meetings are up 7% week over week productboard is developing a new category, providing a platform specifically for product managers and leaders. Developing a new category in this climate is a challenge. Zach shared that their team has been successfully experimenting with expanding their outbound efforts to meet this challenge. “Product has always been using spreadsheets and slides and productivity tools,” said Zach. It’s been an exciting year, and fun to build a new category in the product management world.” *New normal, signs of life of increased productivity* Chorus reported that for SaaS companies, meeting volume up 7% WoW for SaaS companies. Zach said that this data mirrored what productboard is seeing, especially in terms of volume and the recent uptick. “We’re seeing the same trough from March 30 to April 6. But the last two weeks we’ve seen about a 10% increase in meetings booked and productivity.” Before a few months ago, productboard was almost entirely inbound-led. “We relied on trials,” said Zach. At the start of the year, they introduced an outbound motion, lessening their inbound and trial-dependent process. “Doing both in this environment has been a challenge. Timing isn’t great, but we’re seeing a sign of life that we hope continues,” he said. Jim is an outbound advocate and shared his excitement around the great value that outbound efforts bring to sales teams - especially when building a new category. Zach agreed, sharing that he is using outbound motions as a way to diversify and expand. “Outbound for us was a way to target certain personas that our current customers had proved value for,” he said. “We have to have outbound. It’s a key part to the overall strategy.” *Outbound productivity is down, but never more essential* Overall cold call dials are down 67% since March, down 3% week over week. Relative Connect Rate is down 8% since last week Because productboard has been going through new outbound efforts, their outbound productivity has gone way up. They have gone from zero to seven BDRs in the past few months. “We’re lucky in a way,” said Zach, “Our primary buyer is a product manager. They are not typically bombarded with sales calls. We’re hyper-focused, and seeing some success there.” Zach shared that their strategy is based in flexibility. “We’re being creative and flexible with pricing and having a really candid conversations about how we can help them,” he said. It’s less about the total deal value right away, and more about getting them on the platform and helping them find value. Zach also shared that their messaging has adapted as well. “We used to talk only to product leadership, even though our inbound was more product managers. We were focused on how we move more upmarket. But now we’re broadening the scope. We are talking to individual contributors, managers, and such.” The key, it seems, is to develop the relationship. “Let’s introduce [them] to productboard. Even if now is not the right time, we can talk about that later,” Zach said. “We are building future demand in productboard.” *First meetings become all-important* First meeting volume up slightly (2%) week over week for Account Executives, up 4% since pre-COVID. That is a lot of time spent in first meetings. Zach said that productboard has changed the way they incentivize, making it more meeting focused. “How can we tell our story to as many people as possible,” he said. Rather than focusing on moving upmarket and trying to hit larger targets, they are focused on customer acquisition, retention, and meetings. Zach and his team are getting creative. “Let’s create some creative onboarding offers to make it as easy as possible for people to get value right away,” he said. “Maybe this is a better way to grow than what we planned originally. It’s an opportunity we shouldn’t pass up if this can help us slow down and make us better.” Jim closed the call with congratulations for Zach and for productboard. “Your experiments have seemed fruitful. Congrats on all the changes,” he said, “and thank you for sharing them with us today.”

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