How our SaaS startup improved net revenue retention by more than 30 points in two quarters

There’s certainly no shortage of SaaS performance metrics leaders focus on. While all SaaS companies do, and must, home in on acquisition metrics, there’s also massive revenue potential within your current customer base.

I think NRR (net revenue retention) is without question the most underrated metric out there. NRR is simply total revenue minus any revenue churn plus any revenue expansion from upgrades, cross-sells or upsells. The greater the NRR, the quicker companies can scale. Simply put: the power of compound math!

One of the biggest and most impactful changes we made was to move new business, retention and account management all under our chief revenue officer.

Over the course of two quarters, Terminus grew its NRR by more than 30 points, opening up incredible new levels of growth opportunities.

To boost our NRR for the better, I focused on three core pillars within our organization.

People

We took a holistic look at the organization and our org structure. One of the biggest and most impactful changes we made was to move new business, retention and account management all under our chief revenue officer. At the end of the day, it just makes a ton of sense to have acquisition and retention living under the same roof — why bother acquiring new customers if you can’t retain them?

We also rolled out a surround-sound team (around three or four people per customer) who onboard and help customers with their account from day one. In total, we have about a quarter of our company dedicated to this 24/7 support and hands-on guidance to ensure we’re enabling customers immediately.

Process

#column, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #ec-column, #ec-enterprise-applications, #ec-how-to, #marketing, #saas, #startups

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Proptech startup Knock secures $20M to grow SaaS platform for property managers

In recent years, the U.S. has seen more renters than at any point since at least 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau housing data. 

Competition for renters is fierce and property managers are turning to technology to get a leg up.

To meet that demand, Seattle-based Knock – one startup that has developed tools to give property management companies a competitive edge – has raised $20 million in a growth funding round led by Fifth Wall Ventures.

Existing backers Madrona Venture Group, Lead Edge Capital, Second Avenue Partners and Seven Peaks Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings the company’s total capital raised to $47 million.

Demetri Themelis and Tom Petry co-founded Knock in 2014 after renting “in super competitive markets” such as New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. 

“After meeting with property management companies, it was eye-opening to learn about the total gap across their tech stacks,” Themelis recalled.

Knock’s goal is to provide CRM tools to modernize front office operations for these companies so they can do things like offer virtual tours and communicate with renters via text, email or social media from “a single conversation screen.” For renters, it offers an easier way to communicate and engage with landlords. 

“Apartment buildings, like almost every customer-driven business, compete with each other by attracting, converting and retaining customers,” Themelis said. “For property management companies, these customers are renters.”

The startup — which operates as a SaaS business — has seen an uptick in growth, quadrupling its revenue over the past two years. Its software is used by hundreds of the largest property management companies across the United States and Canada and has more than 1.5 million apartment units using the platform. Starwood Capital Group, ZRS, FPI and Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Pinnacle) are among its users.

As Petry explains it, Knock serves as the sales inbox (chat, SMS, phone, email), sales calendar and CRM systems, all in one. 

“We also automate certain sales tasks like outreach and appointment scheduling, while also surfacing which sales opportunities need the most attention at any given time, for both new leases as well as renewals,” he said.

Image Credit: Knock

The company, Themelis said, was well-prepared for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our software supports property management companies, which operate high-density apartment buildings that people live and work in,” he told TechCrunch. “You can’t just ‘shut them down,’ which has made multifamily resilient and even grow in comparison to retail and industrial real estate.”

For example, when lockdowns went into effect, in-person property tours declined by an estimated 80% in a matter of weeks.

Knock did things like help property managers transition to a centralized and remote leasing model so remote agents could work across a large portfolio of properties rather than in a single on-site leasing office, noted Petry.

It also helped them adopt self-guided, virtual and live video-based leasing tools, so prospective renters could tour properties in person on their own or virtually.

“This transformation and modernization became a huge tailwind for our business in 2020,” Petry said. “Not only did we have a record year in terms of new customers, revenue growth and revenue retention, but our customers outperformed market averages for occupancy and rent growth as well.”

Looking ahead, the company says it will be using its new capital to (naturally!) hire across product, engineering, sales, marketing, customer success, finance and human resources divisions. It expects to grow headcount by 40% to 50% before year-end. It also plans to expand its product portfolio to include AI communications, fraud prevention, applicant screening and leasing, and intelligent forecasting. 

Fifth Wall partner Vik Chawla, who is joining Knock’s board of directors, pointed out that the macroeconomic environment is driving institutional capital into multifamily real estate at an accelerated pace. This makes Knock’s offering even more timely in its importance, in the firm’s view.

The startup, he believes, outshines its competitors in terms of quality of product, technical prowess and functionality.

“The Knock team has accomplished so much in just a short period of time by attracting very high quality product design and engineering talent to ameliorate a nuanced pain point in the tenant acquisition process,” Chawla told TechCrunch.

In terms of fitting with its investment thesis, Chawla said companies like Knock can both benefit from Fifth Wall’s global corporate strategic partners “and simultaneously serve as a key offering which we can share with real estate industry leaders in different countries as a potential solution for their local markets.”

#crm, #cushman-wakefield, #customer-relationship-management, #fifth-wall-ventures, #funding, #knock, #lead-edge-capital, #madrona-venture-group, #pew-research-center, #property-management, #proptech, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #saas, #seattle, #second-avenue-partners, #sms, #startups, #tc

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Should your SaaS startup embrace a bottom-up GTM strategy?

Many of today’s most successful software companies, from Atlassian and Datadog to Zoom, subscribe to the bottom-up SaaS go-to-market model. In this model, the user purchases software directly from a website, without ever speaking to a sales person. The product essentially sells itself.

The bottom-up model has a few key benefits: Companies spend dramatically less on sales than their peers, allowing them to invest more in product; they can sustain hypergrowth for longer because they are not as reliant on raw sales headcount to win business; and they tend to be more profitable in the long run, leading to premium valuations.

For all these reasons, more and more SaaS startups are choosing to adopt the bottom-up go-to-market model. But for every Atlassian or Zoom, there are many more companies that fail — often because they don’t understand the hidden challenges and costs that come with the bottom-up model.

Before proceeding further, it’s important to note that bottom-up is not the right starting strategy for every company. A few quick ways to see if bottom-up is the right place to start for you:

  1. Product: People can easily try your product.
  2. Decision-maker: Your decision-maker is a line-level employee (not C-Suite).
  3. Users: Teams and individuals can get value from your product (doesn’t have to be full enterprise roll-out).
  4. Data: The data involved isn’t something that compliance would need to review.

For companies that meet these criteria, there are three important questions that you must be able to answer:

  1. Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?
  2. What is the value you deliver to your customer and how do you determine pricing that matches that value?
  3. When do you hire a sales team? (Spoiler alert — it’s sooner than you think!)

In this piece, we will tackle each of those questions in turn and share some of the best answers we’ve seen from companies that are making it work.

Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?

Unlike most traditional companies who rely on a head of sales to keep tabs on customers and how much each one is paying, most successful bottom-up companies rely on a combination of product, sales, customer support, marketing and community teams to manage revenue.

#coatue, #column, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #entrepreneurship, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #saas, #sales, #startups, #tc

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Freshworks (re-)launches its CRM service

Freshworks, the customer and employee engagement company that offers a range of products, from call center and customer support software to HR tools and marketing automation services, today announced the launch of its newest product: Freshworks CRM. The new service, which the company built on top of its new Freshworks Neo platform, is meant to give sales and marketing teams all of the tools they need to get a better view of their customers — with a bit of machine learning thrown in for better predictions.

Freshworks CRM is essentially a rebrand of the company’s Freshsales service, combined with the company’s capabilities of its Freshmarketer marketing automation tool.

“Freshworks CRM unites Freshsales and Freshmarketer capabilities into one solution, which leverages an embedded customer data platform for an unprecedented and 360-degree view of the customer throughout their entire journey,” a company spokesperson told me.

The promise here is that this improved CRM solution is able to provide teams with a more complete view of their (potential) customers thanks to the unified view — and aggregated data — that the company’s Neo platform provides.

The company argues that the majority of CRM users quickly become disillusioned with their CRM service of choice — and the reason for that is because the data is poor. That’s where Freshworks thinks it can make a difference.

Freshworks CRM delivers upon the original promise of CRM: a single solution that combines AI-driven data, insights and intelligence and puts the customer front and center of business goals,” said Prakash Ramamurthy, the company’s chief product officer. “We built Freshworks CRM to harness the power of data and create immediate value, challenging legacy CRM solutions that have failed sales teams with clunky interfaces and incomplete data.”

The idea here is to provide teams with all of their marketing and sales data in a single dashboard and provide AI-assisted insights to them to help drive their decision making, which in turn should lead to a better customer experience — and more sales. The service offers predictive lead scoring and qualification, based on a host of signals users can customize to their needs, as well as Slack and Teams integrations, built-in telephony with call recording to reach out to prospects and more. A lot of these features were already available in Freshsales, too.

“The challenge for online education is the ‘completion rate’. To increase this, we need to understand the ‘Why’ aspect for a student to attend a course and design ‘What’ & ‘How’ to meet the personalized needs of our students so they can achieve their individual goals,” said Mamnoon Hadi Khan, the chief analytics officer at Shaw Academy. “With Freshworks CRM, Shaw Academy can track the entire student customer journey to better engage with them through our dedicated Student Success Managers and leverage AI to personalize their learning experience — meeting their objectives.”

Pricing for Freshworks CRM starts at $29 per user/month and goes up to $125 per user/month for the full enterprise plan with more advanced features.

#artificial-intelligence, #business, #cloud-applications, #cloud-computing, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #erp-software, #freshworks, #insideview, #machine-learning, #marketing, #marketing-automation, #online-education, #web-applications

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Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Get 6 months free of Zendesk Support and Sales CRM

We’re excited to announce an update to the Extra Crunch Partner Perk from Zendesk. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Zendesk, and meet their startup qualifications, can now receive six months of free access to Zendesk’s Sales CRM, in addition to Zendesk Support Suite, Zendesk Explore and Zendesk Sunshine.

Here is an overview of the program.

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company with support, sales and customer engagement products designed to improve customer relationships. This offer is only available for startups that are new to Zendesk, have fewer than 100 employees and are funded but have not raised beyond a Series B.

The Zendesk Partner Perk from Extra Crunch is inclusive of subscription fees, free for six months, after which you will be responsible for payment. Any downgrades to your Zendesk subscription will result in the forfeiture of the promotion, so please check with Zendesk first regarding any changes (startups@zendesk.com). Some add-ons such as Zendesk Talk and Zendesk Sell minutes are not included. Complete details of what’s included can be found here.

#business, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #extra-crunch, #industries, #marketing, #zendesk

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Drive predictable B2B revenue growth with insights from big data and CDPs

As the world reopens and revenue teams are unleashed to meet growth targets, many B2B sellers and marketers are wondering how they can best prioritize prospect accounts. Everyone ultimately wants to achieve predictable revenue growth, but in uncertain times — and with shrinking budgets — it can feel like a pipe dream.

Slimmer budgets likely mean you’ll need more accurate targeting and higher win rates. The good news is your revenue team is likely already gathering tons of prospect data to help you improve account targeting, so it’s time to put that data to work with artificial intelligence. Using big data and four essential AI-based models, you can understand what your prospects want and successfully predict revenue opportunities.

Big data and CDPs are first steps to capturing account insights

Capturing and processing big data is essential in order to know everything about prospects and best position your solution. Accurately targeting your campaigns and buyer journeys necessitates more data than ever before.

Marketers today rely on customer data platforms (CDPs) to handle this slew of information from disparate sources. CDPs let us mash together and clean up data to get a single source of normalized data. We can then use AI to extract meaningful insights and trends to drive revenue planning.

That single source of truth also lets marketers dive into the ocean of accounts and segment them by similar attributes. You can break them down into industry, location, buying stage, intent, engagement — any combination of factors. When it’s time to introduce prospects to your cadence, you’ll have segment-specific insights to guide your campaigns.

AI realizes data-based insights

You might find that your data ocean is much deeper than you expected. While transforming all that data into a single source to drive actionable insights, you’ll also need the right resources and solutions to convert raw data into highly targeted prospect outreach.

This is where AI shines. AI and machine learning enable revenue teams to analyze data for historical and behavioral patterns, pluck out the most relevant intent data, and predict what will move prospects through the buyer journey.

#artificial-intelligence, #big-data, #column, #customer-data-platform, #customer-relationship-management, #ecommerce, #finance, #machine-learning, #marketing, #online-advertising, #product-marketing, #targeted-advertising, #tc

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Gong raises another $200M on $2.2B valuation

For the third time since last February, Gong has raised a significant sum. In February, the company scored $40 million. In December, it grabbed another $65 million, and today it was $200 million on a $2.2 billion valuation. That’s a total of $305 million in less than 18 months.

Coatue led today’s cash infusion with help from new investors Index Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Thrive Capital, and existing investors Battery Ventures, NextWorld Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital and Wing Venture Capital. It has now raised a total of $334 million, according to the company.

What is attracting this kind of investor attention? When we spoke to Gong about its Series B round, it had 300 customers. Today it has around 1300, representing substantial growth in that time period. The company reports revenue has grown 2.5x this year alone.

Gong CEO Amit Bendov says his company is trying to create a category they have dubbed “revenue intelligence.” As he explains it, today sales data is stored in a CRM database consisting of descriptions of customer interactions as described by the salesperson or CSR. Gong is trying to transform that process by capturing both sides of the interaction, then using artificial intelligence, it transcribes and analyzes those interactions.

Bendov says that the pandemic and economic malaise has created a situation where there is a lot of liquidity in the market and investors have been looking for companies like his to invest some of it.

“There’s a lot of liquidity in the market. There are very few investment opportunities. I think the Investment community was waiting a little bit to see how the market shakes out […] and they are betting on companies that could benefit long term from the new normal, and I think we’re one of them,” Bendov told TechCrunch.

He says that he wasn’t looking for money, and in fact still is operating off the Series B investment, but when firms come knocking with checkbooks open and favorable terms, he wasn’t about to turn them down. “There are CEOs schools [of thought that] tell you to raise money when you can, not when you need to. It’s not very diluted at this kind of valuation and it was a very easy process. […] The whole deal closed in 14 days from term sheet to money in the bank,” he said.

Bendov said that taking the money was “pretty much a no-brainer.” In fact, he says that the money gives them the freedom to operate and further legitimacy in the marketplace. “It gives us the ability to buy companies, make strategic investment, accelerate plans, and it also, especially since we cater to large enterprise customers, it gives them confidence that this company is here to stay…,” he said.

With around 350 employees today, it hopes to add 100 people by the end of the year. Bendov says diversity and inclusion is a “massive priority” for the company. Among the steps they’ve taken recently is opening a recruiting hub in Atlanta to bring more diverse candidates into the company, working with a company called FlockJay to train and hire underrepresented groups in customer success roles, and in Israel where the company’s R&D center is located, helping members of the Arab community with computer science backgrounds to learn interview skills. Some of those folks will end up working for Gong, and some at other places.

While the company has grown remarkably quickly and has shown great promise, Bendov is not thinking ahead to an IPO just yet. He says he wants to grow the company to at least a couple of hundred million dollars in sales and that’s two-three years away at this point. He certainly has plenty of cash to operate until then.

#artificial-intelligence, #cloud, #coatue, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #funding, #gong, #recent-funding, #revenue-intelligence, #startups, #tc

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The essential revenue software stack

From working with our 90+ portfolio companies and their customers, as well as from frequent conversations with enterprise leaders, we have observed a set of software services emerge and evolve to become best practice for revenue teams. This set of services — call it the “revenue stack” — is used by sales, marketing and growth teams to identify and manage their prospects and revenue.

The evolution of this revenue stack started long before anyone had ever heard the word coronavirus, but now the stakes are even higher as the pandemic has accelerated this evolution into a race. Revenue teams across the country have been forced to change their tactics and tools in the blink of an eye in order to adapt to this new normal — one in which they needed to learn how to sell in not only an all-digital world but also an all-remote one where teams are dispersed more than ever before. The modern “remote-virtual-digital”-enabled revenue team has a new urgency for modern technology that equips them to be just as — and perhaps even more — productive than their pre-coronavirus baseline. We have seen a core combination of solutions emerge as best-in-class to help these virtual teams be most successful. Winners are being made by the directors of revenue operations, VPs of revenue operations, and chief revenue officers (CROs) who are fast adopters of what we like to call the essential revenue software stack.

In this stack, we see four necessary core capabilities, all critically interconnected. The four core capabilities are:

  1. Revenue enablement.
  2. Sales engagement.
  3. Conversational intelligence.
  4. Revenue operations.

These capabilities run on top of three foundational technologies that most growth-oriented companies already use — agreement management, CRM and communications. We will dive into these core capabilities, the emerging leaders in each and provide general guidance on how to get started.

Revenue enablement

#artificial-intelligence, #column, #communication-tools, #contract-management, #crm, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #finance, #growth-and-monetization, #highspot, #machine-learning, #madrona-venture-group, #marketing, #sales, #startups, #tc

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A COVID-19 resilience test for B2B companies

COVID-19 has transformed the global business landscape.

So much so that in a matter of weeks after the onset of the pandemic in the United States, Congress provided more than $1.1 trillion in fiscal stimulus directly to businesses and distressed industries — four times more than was distributed during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

It came as no surprise when, at the start of COVID-19, venture capital investors largely went pencils-down for several weeks and shifted their focus to their existing portfolio companies. Extending company runways, preparing for longer funding cycles and managing operations in a novel business environment became the crux of company resilience. Now, moving into May, we can see this shift reflected in both the decline in number of early-stage companies funded and total capital invested.

As investors begin acclimating to this new normal, they have begun wading into new opportunities in time-proven, healthy industries and new emerging industries that are positioned to succeed during the pandemic. While we are seeing lower valuations, we believe certain B2B technology companies may be uniquely poised to thrive, and are pursuing investment opportunities in this space with a renewed focus.

Image Credits: Crunchbase Data via Tableau Public

*Excluding Biotech & Pharmaceuticals (Source: Crunchbase Data via Tableau Public)

Prior to COVID-19, early-stage B2B investors wanted to see strong growth and healthy unit economics; 3X year-over-year sales growth or 10% monthly growth was the gold standard. An LTV-to-CAC ratio over 3X signified a healthy payback cycle. There was less focus on capital efficiency; for every $1 million invested, investors were happy with $500,000 in generated revenues. Get to these numbers and your next funding round was guaranteed — but no longer.

During COVID, and likely beyond, company expectations and goalposts have been adjusted; 2X year-over-year growth may be the new 3X. While growth and unit economics are important, there are now new health indicators that will determine if a B2B company will thrive in a post-COVID world. With that in mind, we have put together a COVID reslience test that startups can use as a north star to grow their business in this new world.

This COVID-19 test is meant to be a gated checklist that will indicate where efforts should be focused, whether it be sales, product or finance. Before we leave you to your own devices, we wanted to walk through a couple of these new post-COVID questions that you should try to answer (and why they are relevant).

#analyst, #b2b, #cloudera, #collaboration-tools, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #customer-relationship-management, #extra-crunch, #funding, #market-analysis, #marketing, #plug-and-play, #recent-funding, #startups, #twilio, #venture-capital

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The best investment every digital brand can make during the COVID-19 pandemic

Intuitively, stores that sell online should be making a killing during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, everyone is stuck at home — and understandably more willing to shop online instead of at a traditional retailer to avoid putting themselves and others at medical risk. But the truth is, most smaller online stores have seen better days.

The primary challenge is that smaller shops often don’t have the logistics networks that companies like Amazon do. Consequently, they’re seeing substantially delayed delivery timelines, especially if they ship internationally. Customers obviously aren’t thrilled about that reality. And in many cases, they’re requesting refunds at a staggering rate.

I saw this play out firsthand in April. At that point, my stores were down 20% or in some cases even 30% in revenue. Needless to say, my team was freaking out. But there’s one thing we did that helped us increase our revenue over 200% since the pandemic, decrease refund requests and even strengthen our existing customer relationships.

We implemented a 24-hour live chat in all of our stores. Here’s why it worked for us and why every digital brand should be doing it too.

Avoid the common ‘unreachability’ frustration

When I started my first online store in 2006, challenges that bogged my team down often meant that my team’s first priority became resolving those challenges so that we could serve our customers faster. But admittedly, when these challenges came up, it became more difficult to balance communicating with our customers and resolving the issues that prevented us from fulfilling their orders quickly.

#column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-support, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #marketing-strategy, #online-shopping, #online-stores, #retail, #startups, #verified-experts

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