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Hope springs eternal

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

When the SaaS growth plan is missing these, hope is all that is left.



In May, 2003 we were off plan and struggling.

All I needed to do was land this massive deal with IBM.

Then I got the dreaded call…the project had been delayed.

The deal was as good as dead.

I was expecting some empathy from our newest investor.

He didn’t say a word.

Instead he dropped Rick Page’s new book on the conference table.

“Hope is Not a Strategy”.

Ouch, that hurt.

It was a lesson I never forgot.

Always have a ‘real’ plan.

Over time I came to appreciate his brutally 'tough love'.


So many SaaS companies make declarations.

“We are going to be $50MM in ARR in 5 years”.

But is it just hope?

Or is there a plan to get there?

Does the plan hold up to scrutiny in the 3 key areas; the market, the team, and the numbers?


First is the plan validated by the market.

And by the market I mean customers.

Customers that have bought.

Customers that have yet to buy.

Customers that bought from competitors.

In fact, our losses inform our business and plan more than our wins.

Don't let a tough loss go to waste.


Are the customers’ realities connected to the numbers?

Are they rooted in the Ps and Qs?

The P is Price, or how much customers will pay.

It is measured by new MRR and expansion MRR per customer.

The Q is Quantity, or how many of these customers will buy.

The is measured by MQLs/SQLs, new customers, and churn.

Is the $50MM ARR, 500 customers paying $100,000 per year?

0r 50,000 at $1,000?

Or somewhere in between.

So simple, but so important.

It drives the go to market plan.

The first better have a great sales strategy.

The second better have a killer marketing model.


Do you have the right team to execute the plan?

If not, what is your plan to grow the team?

And do you have a culture that will motivate the team?

A culture that will attract top talent.

One that is open enough to grow and evolve.

One that is continuously improving.

Because a great culture is built one decision and interaction at a time.


So back to that plan.

What does it mean to have a customer validated plan?

What are the warning signs that the plan may not be realistic?

Are the most important metrics in the plan being obsessed over?

If the current plan doesn’t support the 3 to 5-year goal, what can be done?

Are you building the right team to execute on the plan?

Over the coming weeks, I will explore these questions in a series of blog posts.

Because a plan that doesn’t bring together customers, the team, and the numbers is not a strategy.

It is hope.

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