Don’t Settle for Less Than 100% NRR from SMBs

As part of our 5 Interesting Learning series we’ve had a chance to do a deep dive on many leaders selling to SMBs in whole or in part, from Zendesk to Smartsheet, from Shopify to Zoom, from Asana to Hubspot, from Box to Dropbox, and so much more.

And there is one key take-away: you really should aim for > 100% NRR, even from the smallest of businesses.

Yes, small businesses go under at a much higher rate than enterprises.  And yes, there is far less to upsell at most tiny businesses.  Traditionally, that has meant even 100% Net Revenue Retention can be tough when 20%-30% of your customers may be out of business in a given year!

Yet we’ve still seen the Best in SaaS can do it.  At least 100% NRR after $10m ARR.

Some quick examples:

#1.  Smartsheet: 123%+ NRR from all customers, so probably ~110% from SMBs:

#2.  Zendesk: 112% NRR overall, with 40% SMB.  So probably again around 100% NRR from SMBs.:

#3. 110% NRR from small businesses, and 82% logo retention, at IPO And then up to 121% at $220m ARR (more here).  And this is from in many cases, very small businesses.  It’s super helpful to also see logo retention broken out at IPO.

#4.  Hubspot: 90% NRR at IPO, 100% today.

#5.  Shopify at 100%+ NRR.  Shopify doesn’t always break out its NRR, but since its revenue by cohort grows, it’s north of 100%:

#6. BigCommerce at 106% NRR.  Shopify’s smaller rival.

#7.  Zoom at maybe 110% NRR from SMBs.  Zoom’s overall NRR is 130%, with more than half from SMBs.  Zoom doesn’t break out the difference but we can impute at least 110% NRR from SMBs. Note that is even with half of Zoom’s customers paying monthly!

#8.  Upwork at 100% NRR.  Even a marketplace like Upwork that can be episodic in usage hits 100% NRR overall.

#9. Xero has 1.1% monthly churn.  So it doesn’t quite hit 100% NRR.

#10.  Asana has 115% NRR overall, 125% for $5k customers and 140% for $50k customers.  So still north of 100% for its SMBs.

We could go on and on.  A few thoughts:

  • Yes, SMBs churn at a higher rate than enterprises, both gross and net.  So plan on that.
  • Yes, many SMBs just go out of business.  So also plan on that.
  • And yes, many top SaaS SMB leaders didn’t have 100% NRR in the early days.
  • And the 82% logo retention that has is probably as good as it can get with very small businesses.  So you’ll need to find a way to sell them more seats, more usage, more something to get to 100% NRR.


  • Almost all the top SaaS leaders got to 100%-110% NRR from SMBs.  Although many if not most didn’t start there.  Maybe you can’t quite get there at $1m, $2m, even $10m ARR.  But keep getting closer.  And try to hit that target after $10m ARR at least.

Having said that, this assumes you have a sales team or other solution.  Self-service single-seat products like Squarespace have 85% NRR.

But if humans are involved in sales and success, don’t settle for less than 100% NRR.

Make it so!

Published on March 20, 2021

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