What Happened at SaaSiest 2023 (and what I’ll do different next year)
Does taking over 30 thousand steps in 2 days justify eating doughnuts for breakfast?
I hope so … my feet are sore but I’m feeling optimistic after spending 2 days at SaaS Nordic’s Saasiest2023 conference in Malmo, southern Sweden.
I attended to get a live sense of how SaaS companies are feeling about the technology that drives Customer Success in 2023. I had 19 meetings with CEOs, CROs and Heads of CS from Nordic SaaS companies. What is clear is that … everyone is still hyper-focused on growth (no surprise there) but there is a much greater focus on sustainable growth and driving up Net Revenue Retention (NRR) rates than in previous years.
I did feel however, that companies are still grappling with how to tackle the problem of churn and suboptimal NRR rates. There is certainly a sense that Customer Success Platforms (CSPs) are intended for bigger, well funded companies with lots of customers and CSMs. Perhaps this is a legacy of the historically high ticket price on CSPs or just a general lack of awareness of how CSPs can definitively move the needle on NRR. Either way, we have work to do in educating the market that some CSPs, like Akita, are built and priced for start-ups just as much as enterprise companies.
As regards the sessions at the event, there was lots of great content across a wide variety of SaaS topics, but a couple of speakers stood out when it came to Customer Success…
In his talk, Verdane’s Niclas Ramon Staberg introduced a relatively new metric to the audience, Earned Growth. It’s great to see someone from the VC world pushing the virtues of sustainable growth and Customer Success, Earned Growth is an extension of that.
Niclas referred to Earned Growth as … “the total impact of all of your Customer Success and Customer Experience Efforts … no more fluff”.
To calculate Earned Growth, add the value of ‘new logo’ business that has been influenced by your current and former customers (via referrals, champions repurchasing in new companies, user advocacy in communities etc.), to the revenue from your existing customers.
He also spoke about the relative importance of various factors that influence buyer sentiment and how this list has shifted recently. Sourcing peer opinion has become significantly more important, impacting hugely on Earned Growth potential. Apparently, the influence of salespeople has dropped off the top 5 list, hmmm .
In her session, Hélène Hulthin Hagnéré, owner of Copenhagen-based Customer Success consultancy SCHHH, led with, “Your customer doesn’t want to learn, they just want to work …”. She talked about being clear with your onboarding/success plan and living up to what is expected of you.
With regards to the application of technology to Customer Success, she advised, “the less, the merrier”. Companies should invest in technology that works out of the box, has an open API and can be simply updated. Why? Because Customer Success is constantly changing and evolving and you need a flexible toolset to reflect that (good news for Akita if people take that advice!).
Something we did at the conference …
As a foreigner living in Sweden I know that the Nordics can often mistakenly be viewed as just an extension of the larger EMEA market. Clearly not, it’s very much a self-contained (but outward looking) entity. It’s for this reason we have signed up to work with BusinessWith Software, a nordics-focussed software review and selection platform. We’re excited to work with Joel Wretborn and the rest of the team to help us spread the good word about Akita’s low cost, simple to use, Customer Success platform across the region.
Tips for Saasiest2024
Wear comfortable shoes [more comfortable than I did]
Book your Hotel room for the correct night
Arrange as many meetings as you can for the early part of the first day, after that people get distracted and no-shows are inevitable.
️ Chat to everyone you bump into
Stop bumping into people
Go to the after party [it went on until 3am] OR, if you have small kids, go back to the hotel and get your first uninterrupted night’s sleep in months .
Breakfast Doughnuts at SaaSiest2023