The Nuts and Bolts of Being SaaSy

Last week I wrote about Zuora’s subscription manifesto and the differences between a technology vendor selling an on-premises solutions vs. a company that delivers a true SaaS solution (which I still believe must be multitenant). Today I read a great series called the SaaS Manifesto, written by Peter Levine, General Partner at Andreeson Horowitz. Part one is on Rethinking the Business of Enterprise Computing. Part two is on Focusing of Building a Real Sales Team.  The series draws from extensive first-hand experience and outlines what it takes to truly become a best-in-class software as a service (SaaS) solution provider. Traditional enterprise software company executives should read it as they prepare for their future and SaaS company executives should review it as checklist.

I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with some real SaaS pioneers.  I’ve seen companies struggle and fail to truly embrace the SaaS model and others execute against what seemed like impossible odds. The first paper I read about “being SaaSy” was by Mark Trang, when he was at salesforce.com. The paper was called, “7 Habits of Highly Effective SaaS Companies.” I couldn’t find the paper, but here’s a great presentation from a 2008 Salesforce ISV event. In 2011 Matt Holleran, now founder and managing director at Cloud Apps Management, delivered a great Dreamforce presentation on the same topic. Some of this early knowledge sharing clearly had a positive impact on the so-called “Salesforce Mafia” –  check out this summary of Salesforce employees who have gone on to start companies. The Start-Up Cloud indeed!

Here are some of the best articles I’ve read over the years on best-in-class SaaS (in no particular order):

  1. Bessemer’s 10 Laws of Cloud Computing and SaaS
  2. 9 Worst Practices in SaaS Metrics
  3. SaaS Metrics 2.0: A Guide to Measuring and Improving What Matters
  4. My Top 10 Year One SaaS Mistakes. Save Yourself Some Pain & Just Don’t Make Them Yourself
  5. Should Your Startup Go Freemium?
  6. Marketing SaaS Solutions to Enterprises: Seven Hazards to Avoid
  7. SaaS in the Enterprise and the need for social selling
  8. HubSpot’s Best Practices for Managing SaaS Inside Sales
  9. SaaS Marketing: 21 Growth Hacks to Test Today
  10. How SaaS Changes an ISV’s Business Model 

Thanks to the authors for sharing their SaaS insights.  Of course I should also give a shout out to Behind the Cloud, by Marc Benioff.  And if you’re still working at an enterprise software company that has not yet begun the inevitable shift to the cloud and the subscription economy, I’m sure there’s not a day that goes by without somebody mentioning Clayton Christensen and the Innovator’s DilemmaEscape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore is also excellent.

What’s missing? Got any more “Best in SaaS” articles or best practices to share?

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6 Responses to “The Nuts and Bolts of Being SaaSy”


  1. 1 Mark Trang 2013/10/01 at 11:21 pm

    Hey Darren – here’s an extended “Reach for the Cloud” book version that extends beyond the 7 Habits whitepaper I wrote years back: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8872461/Reach_For_The_Cloud_ver1_FINAL.pdf

  2. 3 Mark Trang 2013/10/01 at 11:22 pm

    Darren – the original 7 Secrets white paper is still available here: http://www.salesforce.com/assets/pdf/misc/WP_7Secrets_0408.pdf

  3. 4 dcunni 2013/10/03 at 9:34 pm

    Nice update from Bessemer in this paper – definitely worth a read!
    https://bvp.app.box.com/30-QA-for-SaaS-Revenue-Leaders


  1. 1 2013 SaaS Industry Report | In(tegrate) the Clouds Trackback on 2013/12/29 at 9:20 pm

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