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What We Learned at SaaSFest 2017

Patrick Campbell Dec 19 2017

SaaSFest was an absolute blast this year. Our annual day of learning brought 160+ attendees from four continents together to hear insights from some of the brightest folks in the subscription world.





This gathering has always been about creating a community of knowledge sharing, free from the self-promotional schtick we endure at other conferences. This year, our speakers rose to the occasion and shared some incredible tactics they developed in the field. Our attendees did the same, freely swapping strategies and reflecting candidly about their challenges in Q&A sessions and breaks. 

This was our favorite SaaSFest yet. Let’s take a look at some of the best moments from our main event and share a strategy for implementing some of those conference learnings in your business.

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Highlight Reel

At last year’s gathering, we organized our talks around the three pillars of subscription businesses: acquisition, retention, and monetization. This year, we broke out of that mould and challenged our speakers to bring new insights on the subjects they know best. They overwhelmingly delivered, sharing case studies from their years of experience designing products, building CX teams, and watching subscription companies succeed and fail.

Suneet Bhatt drew upon Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar to make the case that customer support will power future growth. Hiten Shah and Marie Prokopets opened up about the bumps on their path to building five different products in a single year. And Kate Moore made the case that continuous improvement is the key to enabling your teams to do their best work.

We’ll be releasing full recordings of the talks on this blog, but here are a few moments we loved if you want a quick preview:

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“We present the same message with the same price to everyone and we don’t try to understand our customers. That’s why we have a 5% conversion rate...I’m trying to change that.”

Guillaume Cabane has been crushing it in growth for the last fifteen years. He shared some of the new techniques he developed at Drift to bring incredible personalization to marketing communications, like auto-filling forms with Clearbit data and automatically delivering coffee to high quality leads. He even demoed a new tactic for us, hooking up SaaSFest attendees with swag based on the IP address of the conference hotel.

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“You want to create a simple funnel for your sales machine that’s actionable and gives you context on what’s going on. Look not where the problem is, but one, two, or three steps before that problem….Do we really understand who our customer is? Did we reach enough of them?”

Steli Efti always lights up a room and this year was no exception. He shared strategies for making sure you’re talking to the right people - not just the most people - and improving your sales strategy by talking to your customers, some of the same principles we advocate right here.

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“You have to create an incentivization model that balances the bookings you’re going to get today with the future revenue you want to grow into with a customer. And that’s not easy to do.”

Monika Saha, the Swiss Army Knife of SaaS, has helped to grow Zuora into the powerhouse it is today. She walked us through some of the trickiest elements of putting a pricing strategy into practice, from designing growth journeys to maintaining pricing innovation at scale.

Each of our speakers brought lessons informed by years in the subscription world. Yet, all of those insights are only valuable if you’re able to actually put them into practice in your business.


Taking SaaSFest Back to Work

At every conference, only a fraction of people who attend will actually implement what they learn. With SaaSFest, it pays to be one of those few.

Yet, it’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed after hearing a series of talks jam-packed with tactics and walk away thinking something like this:

I definitely need to fix my sales funnel and add more paid advertising. But my pricing needs work - I should do that first. And I should probably rethink my entire approach to customer support. Or...maybe I should start working on another product.

Welcome to the world of post-conference paralysis. Here’s what we suggest instead: for each talk, identify one change you can make in your business within the next month. Whether it’s adding a new element of personalization to your marketing outreach or introducing cross-selling into your customer support workflow, start with a single manageable step. This is the single best way to make sure that your time at SaaSFest keeps paying dividends for the rest of the year.


Closing Out SaaSFest 2017

Our third year of SaaSFest was our biggest and best yet. We’re incredibly grateful to our speakers and friends who make this such a rewarding gathering year after year.

If you missed out this time around, don’t worry - we’ll be hosting another SaaSFest before you know it. Until then, we’ll post full recordings of talks from our speakers within the next few weeks, along with a trailer for some really exciting upcoming content we debuted at the conference. Click below to get an early look at that trailer and more of the content we'll be bringing to you in 2018. 

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By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.