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Lessons from SaaStr #2: using customer networks

We attended SaaStr Europa 2019 in Paris. Some of the most interesting topics at the conference were about customer relationships and sales growth.
By Björn Schlingmann on July 05, 2019

One of the biggest topics of discussion at SaaStr Europa '19 this year was sales and growth. While securing customers and scaling subscription businesses isn't necessarily a groundbreaking subject, there were many interesting points made by some of the speakers at this year's conference.

When thinking about how to quickly and easily scale sales, but also manage to properly control internal functions in a way that is efficient and comprehensive, subscription businesses should look to how they can leverage their existing customer networks to facilitate growth. Not to mention your customers can be your greatest assets when developing and evolving your company and your products.

Your customers are your most important investors

During the talk "5 Dos and Don'ts lessons from my bootstrapping days" by Andrew Filev, CEO and Founder of Wrike, he stressed that while growing and scaling, you can't be so focused on new sales and expanding into different markets that you forget about your existing customers. "A sale is the beginning, not the end," he emphasized, saying that you need to continue to "earn" your existing business every year, and that because of more competition, "lock-in" is becoming harder to obtain.

Early adopters of your products are especially important to cater to, and you can look at them as your "investors." As seeing them as stakeholders whose opinions matter most, you can better shape your product and service iterations.

This insight struck a particular nerve with the Younium team, as we're continually looking for better ways to help our customers manage subscriptions, and subsequently reduce customer churn. Focusing on upsells and renewals can be far more cost effective and better for ROI over time.

Focus on customers for value chain selling

With more emphasis being placed on inside sales and strengthening existing customer relationships, Charles Lawson, General Manager, and Laura Badanes, Sales Development Manager at Egnyte talked about "How to build a pipeline with no brand and sometimes no market."

They emphasized that in their company, sales is not working a "list" but rather "pursuing a trail" in which you can use the conversations you have with your customers to build your brand and network. This can spur the conversations they have with their own customers or other companies in their network.

At Egnyte, they have focused on customer success as an element of sales. They know that when their own customers are taken care of, there is a much higher likelihood of referrals, and a strengthened brand credibility.

Value chain selling is an interesting topic for us, because we find that when subscription businesses are managed properly, the important data and financial reports that matter for revenue recognition make it so that busy organisational leaders have more time to spend on relationship building. By automating many of these kinds of internal processes for invoicing, billing, contract management and more, administration no longer gets in the way of the relationship management that actually leads to faster and more sustainable growth.

SaaStr Europa 2019 was an incredible event that we feel fortunate to have attended. With so many interesting and insightful talks, with actionable insights that are immediately relevant to our business, we left invigorated and ready to apply our new knowledge to how we build Younium's products, and engage our customers. We can't wait for next year!

Interested in hearing more about our thoughts on subscriptions, SaaS, sales and growth? Schedule a chat our sales director and SaaS guru Martin Kåver.

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Published by Björn Schlingmann July 5, 2019

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