Key Takeaways from Past SaaS Connect Conferences


This year's SaaS Connect event  promises to be full of new ideas, new technologies and a lot of great networking—which, of course, is fantastic for a conference focused on partnerships!

The SaaS explosion started in 2010. Since then, SaaS has permeated every business function in big and small companies alike, although bigger companies use more SaaS—sometimes hundreds of apps.

The conference has a lot of great content every year. As we countdown the days until the kick off, I thought I would share a few key takeaways from previous years. 

1. Formula for Success with Partnerships

In 2018, Matt Rissell kicked off the event as the first keynote speaker. He is the co-founder of TSheets, which was recently acquired by Intuit for $340M. He now leads the TSheets division at Intuit, and talked about milestones in his partnership adventure.

Matt shared his formula for success with partnerships:

  1. Ask your partners what means success to them.
  2. Lead with what they want—for example, sell the lead product first, which is what they are first looking for.
  3. Build relationships with every single part of the organization. And make that relationship about them.
  4. Get lucky (this one is a little untraditional!)

2. Pro-tips for Partnerships

Our second flashback is also from Matt Rissell's presentation back in the day. He shared some of his pro-tips for identifying and approaching new partnerships:

  1. Give away t shirts like crazy—this gives people a reason to look you up, and the shirts serve as a walking billboard.
  2. Invest in relationships. While it's expensive and the payoff isn’t short term, its the path to long-term success.
  3. Find your boss’s first filter, meaning, find what is most important to them as it relates to the direction of the business and partnerships.
  4. Don’t over-invest in a single partnership. And make sure you have a predetermined path to determine when to get out of the partnership when it no longer makes good business sense.

“Entrepreneurs often let someone else or something else to quit.” - Matt Rissell, TSheets by QuickBooks.

3. SaaS Trends

Another great takeaway came from Ariel Diaz, the Founder and CEO of Blissfully. She shared some top SaaS trends:

  1. As companies grow, the types of SaaS apps are evolving. For example, larger companies are investing more in sales SaaS, while they end up spending less on engineering SaaS as they grow.
  2. “Freemium” is still a prevalent business model. Companies are using 3 times more SaaS apps that are free vs. paid.
  3. More vendors = more competition. Because there are so many choices, that creates some chaos for users. However, SaaS providers and (and should!) use their brand as a key differentiator in this competitive landscape.

4. Tips for Selling Internal Stakeholders on a Partnership

Rachel Stockton and Harvey Grasty from LogMeIn shared how LastPass approaches strategic partnerships to expand their distribution network.

Harvey provided some methods for selling potential partnerships internally. Stakeholders can include your executive team, legal, marketing, sales, and finance.

On top of that, there can be multiple cycles in selling a partnership internally. Part of that is because after a deal is done, if sales don’t come immediately (and they most likely won’t), you may have to continue to sell your internal stakeholders on the partnership.

Otherwise, you risk losing resources that will ultimately drive the partnership’s overall success. Harvey gave some key tips for selling internal stakeholders on potential partnerships:

    • Explain the partner journey
    • Be prepared for role & individual bias
    • Paint a realistic picture to leadership
    • Elaborate on relevant levers, like new revenue, new markets, and the effect on brand awareness

5. Importance of a Healthy Culture  

Kyle Porter, Founder and CEO of SalesLoft shared his story about the changing landscape for SalesLoft over the years, and how he has built a team that makes culture and values #1.  He shared his unique twist on their five core values:

  1. Customer first
  2. Team over self
  3. Bias toward action
  4. Focus on results
  5. Glass half full

6. Things your Partners Need Immediately

Clinton Gatewood from SaaSMax shared a few key questions that re-sellers expect to know immediately when kicking off a partner program:

  • What is the target market? What are their pain points, and how do I find them?
  • How do I make money? Are there companion products? And can I sell services on top of the product?
  • Are you a good partner I can trust? Why should I trust you?

Clinton also shared the five must-have documents before you launch a channel partnership:

  1. Proper competitive analysis
  2. Reseller-focused slide deck
  3. A price list showing how partners make money
  4. A channel partner agreement (pro-tip—keep it simple)
  5. Co-brandable marketing material

“Resellers can make your company if you prepare, treat them right, and commit to them long term”. -Clinton Gatewood, SaaSMax

Want to learn even more about how to make the most of your partnerships? Kiwi is known industry wide for their expertise in tech marketing. Download the The Complete Sales Enablement Guide for B2B Tech Companies, put together especially for SaaS Connect. 

Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me. See you at the event!