Q1 venture capital investment remains steady relative to Q4 2015 at about $15 billion, but down from the near records attained in 2015. Over the last five years, seven of the twenty-nine quarters have reached or exceeded the $15 billion mark, all of them within the last two years. So, on a historical basis, venture capitalists are still investing at rates substantially above average.
There's a new class of company that wield data to create long-term competitive advantage. TheRealReal uses this morning's sales data to inform this afternoon's marketing campaigns. Hubspot motivates its sales teams not just with a target quota, but a blend of key sales metrics that reflect the strategic priorities of the company. Zendesk's data team educates and trains its employees to use data in meetings to prioritize key product management and marketing efforts.
A senior executive described her management philosophy as heavily influenced by Daniel Pink's book Drive. In his 20 minute TED talk, Pink argues traditional incentive structures like bonuses and raises don't work for knowledge workers. Instead, autonomy, mastery and purpose motivate them best.
Sales velocity is the equation that governs the effectiveness of your SaaS startup's sales team. Often, sales teams use the word sales velocity to refer to the number of signed contracts in a given month or quarter. But sales velocity classically defined is a different concept. Sales velocity originates from operations research, field of study pioneered by Charles Babbage, one of the fathers of computing, and Georges Doriot, the patriarch of the venture capital industry. Sales velocity measures the output of the sales team in dollars per day or month.
A user has maximum intent. She has watched the humorous demo video, chuckled when reading through the clever marketing copy, and filled out the abbreviated, optimized user registration form. She wants to give the product a spin. How long does the account verification link take to appear in her email box? Is it long enough for her to switch tabs, change contexts and lose interest?
There are two common ways to model the growth of a SaaS business I've seen in pitches. the first one helps founders develop a sense for the trajectory of the business, while the second one helps teams plan for different scenarios and model the trade-offs with each strategic decision.
What are your top three priorities in your job right now? If I asked you that question, I suspect within a minute or two you could articulate them. Is the software you are selling at your SaaS startup solving one of those three needs for your target customer? And, if it is, does your software meaningfully differentiate along one of the key competitive axes that your customer cares about?
Clay Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, asserted in a recent interview that we understand only half of the marketing puzzle - the marketing science involved in a competitive ecosystem, when consumers are buying millions of products. In these markets, concepts like Westendorp Price Sensitivity and conjoint analyses work. But to incite disruption requires a different set of marketing skills.
At work, we're thirsty for data to guide and inform decisions and we bring with us similar expectations of technology's ability to answer questions instantly. As chat becomes an increasingly important user interface in the workplace, there's a big opportunity for startups to enrich conversations with answers to questions that pop-up in Slack and elsewhere.