Reaching the first billion is a milestone for every SaaS company, so what’s the best way to get there? During his SaaStr Annual presentation, Tom Clayton, CRO of, shared his insights and advice for growing revenue streams to maximize business success. 

The Five Key Growth Levers

Clayton begins by sharing the key levers that accelerate growth from the $100 million mark to $1 billion.

    1. Pursue Diverse Revenue Models.
      Sometimes, it takes innovative thinking to pull more revenue out of a current customer base or business model. Think of this as squeezing more juice from the same lemon. As Clayton says, “Basically, whatever you can do capture more of the value derived and willingness to pay from different segments of customers you’re going after, the more you can maximize revenue.”
      Some ideas Clayton shared included playing around with your pricing tiers and subscriptions, offering premium services, expanding into adjacent products, trying out transaction-based pricing, monetizing multiple sides of the market, and offering a white-label option for your product.
    2. Dive Deeper or Go Broader.
      Once you’ve hit the $100 million mark, begin to consider the finetuning you can do to best attack your market. For example, you could either verticalize the GTM or consider a broader horizontal play.
    3. Extend Your Reach Through Efficient Channels.
      Keep in mind channel partnerships take time to become lucrative. Here are some ways you could approach channels and the types of relationships you may pursue:

        • Add-ons and bundling. Find another SaaS company whose brand or product works together well with yours that sells to the same persona.
        • Clear value-added upsell to large platform install bases.
        • Massive service providers can white-label your product.
        • Adjacent market players that serve the same customer base.
    4. Market Resellers Will Start to Pay Attention.
      Resellers will begin to take a more serious interest in working with you as you grow. VARs and SIs only move when pulled by the market, which usually means post $100 million.
    5. Explore International Expansion.
      Begin to take on a global perspective as you reach success. Consider the market in countries across the world and how best you can grow in different areas.

Five Clear Signs You’re on Your Way

So if you’ve implemented new growth levers, how do you know if it’s working? Clayton shares the indicators that reveal that you’re on track to meet your billion-dollar goal.

  1. Evidence of Crossing the Chasm.
    Have you moved across the chasm between the early market and the mainstream market? Have you jumped from the early adopter visionaries to the early majority pragmatists? Author Geoffrey Moore describes the chasm criteria this way:

    • Demonstrate market leadership
    • Dominate 1 – 2 vertical markets
    • Competitors set you as the target
    • References become part of the decision-making process.

    Clayton emphasizes the importance of crossing the chasm for growth by pointing out, “[When] we’re crossing the chasm, we’re hitting the pragmatists, and that in itself increases the TAM you’re going after.”

  2. Seismic Shift Changes the Game.
    This shift could be market-specific or even global. The most recent change was the shake-up from the pandemic, which inspired more remote work, the great resignation, and the accelerated digital transformation.
  3. Accelerating Revenue Growth.
    Obviously, after $100 million, your revenue should continue to increase, but the surest sign of success is if the revenue growth rate continues to get bigger. Says Clayton: “It’s very rare that you get to $100 million –– or in our case, you get to become a public company –– and the growth rate accelerates after that. Not that the revenue [doesn’t] continue to grow, the growth rate itself continues to accelerate.”
  4. Increased Revenue Retention.
    Along with a higher growth rate, leadership should also pause to review their retention and churn rates. If NRR increases over time, it’s a good sign that customers are happy, sticking with you, and buying more.
  5. Organic and Inorganic Fuel.
    You can use both organic and inorganic tactics to grow your business. Leverage M&A aftermarket parts to fuel your business’s growth.

Clayton’s Lessons Learned – Final Takeaways

    • Get the Playbook Right First, Then Scale Fast
    • Hire for Tomorrow, Not Today
    • Rally Around Top Line Growth
    • Spending Big on Advertising Isn’t Necessary
    • Do Right By Customers

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