Presented by Sage Intacct
For SaaS companies, automation speeds up quote-to-cash and close cycles, frees up cash, and increases valuation, all of which unlock growth opportunities. Learn more about how automation helps you scale from early to growth stage in this VB Live event.
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In the pandemic world, resources for SaaS companies can be slim, so any growth plan needs to be more strategic than ever. In this context, do you decide when, where, and how to put money into sales and marketing your product, or should you build a more efficient financial machine so you can have a better view on the financial position of the company for investment going forward? How much head count to hire? What marketing programs to run? Where should you make your automation investments?
A growth pattern has emerged over time for SaaS technology firms, says David Appel, head of SaaS vertical at Sage Intacct, and learning from these ground rules — and the benefit automation brings — will inform both now and the future. You began by finding the right product-market fit, built an efficient sales and distribution engine, not to mention hired reps in an effort to begin selling widely. Soon customer retention emerged as your most important goal, because that’s where all the real profit comes in with a SaaS model.
Against that backdrop, your product teams, sales team, support team, and the finance team, all begin to develop processes as your company continues to grow — but then, inevitably you reach a sticking point where you find that the manual solutions you have in place not only can’t keep up with the current customer demand, but won’t allow you to scale.
“There are some common triggers,” Appel says, “Particularly for folks who are trying to run their business using Quickbooks and are starting to run into a wall.”
When you get to 200 invoices, or 500 revenue schedules, and you’re trying to consolidate two or more entities, those processes can start breaking down. And all the manual work you have to put into a simple bookkeeping product and Excel starts to become onerous.
“For some companies, your time starts getting wasted trying to reconcile things doing it all for yourself,” he says. “That’s where the importance of automation starts to come in.”
That’s the most common pattern for SaaS tech companies, but it’s also important to keep tabs on your company’s own unique indicators, says Mike Etheridge, VP Finance at Arena Solutions.
For his SaaS company, manual processes were working for their client base size and their types of deals. But as the company became focused on sophisticated, sequential growth — they opened up several domestic offices and an international office, and acquired a small software company — that’s when the manual processes were no longer feasible. They reached the inflection point where trying to keep it as simple as possible didn’t work for the business anymore.
“From a sales operations or account manager point of view, the most important thing is to spend time building a relationship with a customer, understanding how their business is changing and evolving with what the potential growth could be, rather than staying neck-deep in lengthy manual processes,” Appel says.
Another common trigger, Appel says, is when your orders start to have more exceptions in terms, or you start to strike more sophisticated deals with larger companies, or your customer base starts to average toward larger companies.
That’s where automation shines: leveraging cost-effective, efficient tools cuts the time of your order-to-bill process and maximizes cash flow. All this enables you to be strategic in your growth game plan, and access the the resources, in both cash and employees, that are required to scale.
“If you’re a small venture-funded company and early on you’re just trying to get the orders processed, you start to get wedded to how you’ve always done something,” Etheridge says. “When you’re starting to go upmarket or seeing consistent growth, the question becomes what are the systems you can put in place so you’re not spending all your time processing and getting every piece of documentation together, making sure every I is dotted and T is crossed?”
To learn how to answer these questions, plus an in-depth look at the kinds of SaaS billing models that are most effective, the most common mistakes to avoid when shifting your company’s focus, and the KPIs you need to know about, don’t miss this VB Live event.
- Seven mistakes to avoid when building an agile B2B subscription billing model
- Five steps required to align the team on your subscription financial processes
- Three tips for choosing the technology stack that will help you grow
- Mike Etheridge, VP Finance, Arena Solutions
- David Appel, Head of Software & SaaS, Sage Intacct
- Stewart Rogers, Analyst At Large, VentureBeat