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The Top 7 SaaStr Annual 2019 Presentations

 Another year at SaaStr Annual is over, but that’s not the end. SaaStr is packed with speakers who are the leaders and shapers of the SaaS industry. There’s a lot we can learn from them, but with 12,500+ attendees at a massive conference, it’s not possible to get to every session and keynote.Image from iOS (4)

Thankfully, SaaStr publishes a portion of the presentations (almost 60 this year), and videos of the presentations are released over a period of time after the conference.

To make it easier to digest so much great SaaS content, here is my list of the top slides and videos you don’t want to miss. Plus, you can download the spreadsheet we used to review all of the SaaStr content we could find. Feel free to sort, download and share what you find inspirational.

Get the Google Sheet

1. Opening Remarks of SaaStr Annual 2019 With Jason Lemkin, Amelia Ibarra and Deborah Findling

Jason Lemkin is the co-founder and CEO of SaaStr, and his opening session gets straight to the point of why we find the SaaStr conference valuable each year. SaaStr aligns with our vision for growing businesses from $0 ARR to $100M+ ARR and that’s who attends: SaaS businesses like us who are working hard to grow.

View the Full Deck Here

1 - SaaStr Opening Session Lemkin

If you’ve been to SaaS or tech conferences in the past, you know how unusual it is to see an emphasis like this on diversity and inclusion. SaaStr stepped things up this year, which is the main reason we included this presentation in our list.2 - SaaStr Opening Session Lemkin

2. The Things Nobody Tells You About an $8B Acquisition

Ryan Smith, Qualtrics co-founder and CEO, joined SaaStr Founder and CEO Jason Lemkin for the opening keynote to discuss Qualtrics’ acquisition by SAP in an $8B deal.

The survey software maker’s acquisition in November 2018 (which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019) “is the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016,” as reported by TechCrunch and many, many others.

Watch the keynote below as Jason and Ryan get into the backstory of Qualtrics, Ryan’s funding decisions, how he built Qualtrics from the ground up and the values that shaped his decisions.

3. Less is More: How to Make Your Funding Go Further With Market Focus

Kate Hopkins, VP at Mainsail Partners, shares strategies for going up against larger competitors. According to Kate:

The temptation is to try to measure up, but the best strategy may be to pull back. Startups shouldn’t be too quick to forfeit the advantages of being small, namely the ability to thrive in smaller sub-markets. Small companies can “cheat” efficiencies of scale by defining their target market narrowly enough that they are the leader.

View the Full Deck Here

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4. Beyond the Metrics: 5 Qualitative Factors VCs Look for in a Series A Startup

Nakul Mandan, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, walks through raising Series A funding and how that can be tough. He takes a holistic view on what investors are looking for in a startup and the qualitative factors that matter.

View the Full Deck Here

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5. Quora Writer’s Workshop

Founded in 2009, Quora is a Q&A site where users ask and answer questions, including many SaaS related questions. In addition to being a platform to build thought leadership and brand awareness, Quora answers show up in Google search results and rank high on many search engine results pages (SERPs).

Quora Evangelist JD Prater’s presentation provided the inside track on everything from writing Quora questions and answers to features that can get you ahead when it comes to gaining traction on Quora.

View the Full Deck Here

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6. How to Do Customer Success at Scale with @Sandy_Carter 

Sandy Carter is the vice president of Windows & Enterprise Workloads at Amazon Web Services and led a session at SaaStr on customer success.

One of the key takeaways for me was looking at strategic decisions as one-way or two-way doors so you know how to approach them.

  • One-way doors are decisions which, once exposed publicly, are very hard or impossible to reverse or course correct. Those decisions should be planned carefully with extra time and focus.
  • Two-way doors are decisions which, once exposed publicly, can be adjusted or even canceled as needed. Those decisions should move with expediency in a “good and done is better than perfect and waiting” mentality.

View the Full Deck Here

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7. Top 10 Learnings About Free Trial

Tomasz Tunguz, venture capitalist at Redpoint, is known and respected around the world. His blog is a must-follow and his State of SaaS talk last year with Jason Lemkin was phenomenal.

This year, Tom shared findings from a survey he conducted on free trials and what he learned from the 590 responses. This presentation is by far the meatiest, and I highly encourage you to view all 68 slides from his presentation. His follow-up on the SaaStr podcast provides more color to the slides and free trials for SaaS and is a short 30-minute listen.

Here’s the summary of what Tom recommends for businesses who use free trials:

  • 1. Stick with annual contracts
  • 2. Strive for 90% logo retention
  • 3. NDR target should be 100-140%
  • 4. Explore time and usage-based trials
  • 5. Trial length doesn’t alter conversion; shorten it
  • 6. Hire salespeople to call your leads
  • 7. Aim for 4%+ unassisted conversion
  • 8. Shoot for 15% assisted conversion
  • 9. Question activity scoring in enterprise
  • 10. Test requiring payment at outset

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This slide above is the one that Tom found the most interesting because “the data showed lead scoring was ineffective at lower price points and negatively correlated with conversion rates at higher price points.”

His hypothesis is “that buyers in the upper price points may poke around in the product once or twice, and still buy. In contrast, trial-ers of 0-5k ACV software may use the product much more because the buyer is the user.”


What was your favorite presentation? We’d love to hear. Tweet us your favorite @SaaSOptics.

To see all of the decks (at least, all that have been released) from SaaStr Annual 2019, view our Google spreadsheet that includes presentation PDFs, links to videos, Twitter handles of presenters and sortable columns by title and presenter.

Get the Google Sheet

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