The first $1m deal is a magic time for any SaaS company going upmarket
1/ You can’t even imagine it the first 2-3 years
2/ Then, you close a $100k deal, and you see well … maybe. Maybe.
3/ Then it takes you 18 months to close the first $1m deal.
And then ..
You close 10
— Jason ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) February 11, 2022
There are two exercises I like to do with SaaS companies marching up-market.
The first is to challenge them to double their highest ACV ever on the next similar prospect. If your highest paying customer pays you $30,000 a year … even if all the rest pay you only $3,600 a year (a not uncommon scenario) … then why can’t you get $60,000 a year from the next Big Prospect that comes in the door?
What’s the difference between $30k and $60k a year, after all? I mean, really?
What I do know is if one customer values you a product enough to pay you $30,000 … there’s another that will pay $60,000. Maybe it’s a customer that’s 2-20x larger. Maybe it’s just a different situation. Maybe it’s just getting a real VP of Sales that knows how to do the ask. 🙂
Whatever it is — ask. Maybe you can get it. And if you can’t … you’ll learn why. Maybe it’s one core feature gap. Maybe you’re aren’t “enterprise enough”. Whatever it is … you can probably build that, and fill that gap.
When I challenge founders to do this … it almost always works. They report back 30, 60, 90 days later that, what do you know … the next Big Prospect paid 2x whatever their highest record ACV deal was to date. Sometimes for the same exact product. Sometimes with a feature commit as part of the deal. But one way or another … they find a way.
Then, once they’ve done that, doubled pricing at the high end at least … maybe later, once they get past $5m ARR or so and build up confidence … I ask them to ask for $1,000,000 next time. Or at least — $500,000 a year. OK, more often, $500,000.
If it’s a true solution sale. More on the difference here.
Now, if your biggest customer pays you $60,000 today … asking for $500,000 a year, or even $1m, may sound nuts. But it turns out it isn’t.
Do it when a prospect asks you for something that pushes your solution. When it’s clear they want to buy, but they want the product to go further than it does today.
“Well, we don’t do that today. But for $700,000 a year, I can commit to having that by Q2’22.” Try that line.
It just might work. And if it doesn’t … I bet you worst case, you will still learn. If it’s a Big Customer, and the problem you are solving is important … it will more often create a dialogue than a No.
Variant #2 is to go back to an existing, successful customer and say “We want to do more for you. What other big problems can we solve for you? Are there any problems so big, we could we do to get the deal up to $500,000 or even $1m a year?” This will create a dialogue. And maybe even a Yes.
This thing is — the bigger and more important a solution is in the true Enterprise … the more it’s worth.
Budgets are fixed in an absolute sense. But they flow to the biggest and best-est solutions. As you march upmarket, you also need to march “up value”.
Ask for $500,000 or $1m ACV next time, too. (Once you’ve gotten comfortable already doubling your existing highest-end pricing).
You won’t get it for the product as it is today. But … you might get it for where the product just might go in the future. See where it takes you.
Maybe to $100m, and beyond, faster than you would have expected. Or even believed.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)