What is the secret to aligning go-to-market teams and finance teams? These two departments are a SaaS company’s most important; without their alignment, there is no growth or scale. Prakash Raina, Co-Founder of Subskribe, and Leslie Hui, VP of Accounting Operations and Finance Transformation at Okta, break down the secrets to unifying SaaS teams, processes, and systems.
The evolution of SaaS business
Before we get into the dynamics of alignment, let’s briefly review the evolution of SaaS. Throughout the past few decades, we have witnessed different eras of SaaS:
Era 1, SaaS 1.0: Starting in the early 2000s, SaaS 1.0 was pretty simplified, mostly made up of annual or monthly subscriptions.
Era 2, SaaS 2.0: From 2010 until 2015, the SaaS world was becoming more complex with the introduction of static bundles and recurring revenue as an addition to the annual/monthly subscription model.
Era 3, SaaS 3.0: Today, we are in the third era of SaaS, or SaaS 3.0. While annual/monthly subscriptions still exist, they are more complex than ever. We are seeing more agile packaging and pricing methods, dynamic deals, ramp-up revenue, and consumption and usage. SaaS 3.0 is an adaptive system, and companies focus on strategies to help them achieve 10x growth.
Common SaaS strategies for 10x growth
Achieving 10X growth results from the repeated execution of common SaaS growth strategies. Look at the four common strategies to explore for your SaaS business:
- Expanding to new markets. This may look like moving from a mid-market business to an SMB, and eventually to an enterprise. Another strategy we often see is moving from a PLG model to a sales assistive model with a more established sales team that can sell the product to the customer.
- New service offerings. One strategy for growth is launching new product lines and expanding the prospects who need your services. With a new product launch, you may shift from a flat monthly subscription fee to a consumption-based pricing model.
- Geographical expansion. Are you able to take on moving to new territories? Is your business ready for multi-currency or multi-entity? Expanding the business’s territory lines is expanding the number of people who will be interested in the business.
- Mergers and acquisitions. As SaaS businesses expand, we are seeing more technology, business acquisitions, and inorganic growth.
The secret to aligning GTM & finance teams
Prakash Raina explains that it’s no secret that alignment is critical to success. The people, processes, and technology within a business must all be on the same page.
“Success requires a healthy balance between finance and GTM teams.” -Prakash Raina
It’s important to establish the right roles and responsibilities. A business may own the process, but technology owns the systems. While enabling your go-to-market teams, you must be mindful of the future state of scaling. Strategize so you avoid over-customizing a monster system that you won’t be able to scale in the future. Find the balance between enabling your GTM team and monitoring the long-term systems teams and back-end office teams who also have a role in that decision-making.
Governance and compliance are core to alignment. Governance is a critical component of how you grow and scale. Flexibility is important, but never at the cost of control. Established roles, permissions, and governance are vital as your business grows and scales.
Create an end-to-end strategy. Define and recognize all the key stakeholders within a process, then think through the entire life cycle of the process. Who will live with the burdens or upkeep of that process? For example, after a GTM team signs on a customer, the customer success team, finance team, and systems team will live with that order. Set them up for success.
“Maintaining healthy partnerships between organizations, departments, and teams within a company is absolutely critical.” -Leslie Hu
Hire ahead of the curve. The first person you should hire should be the person with the experience you will need. You won’t reach 10x revenue without the experience of reaching 10x revenue. Hiring for where you are going, not necessarily for where you are now, can get you the right person to take you where you want to be headed.
- Build your technology and process on a flexible foundation. Your system will become complex, and your needs will change with growth. Having flexibility is critical from day one.
- Align on success metrics. Make sure your go-to-market teams and sales and finance teams align on success metrics. This is critical for the business to achieve the growth they are looking for.
- Hire for where you want to be. Your company should aim to hire someone who has seen how similar companies have operated on a much larger scale. Think about where you want to be in 5-10 years down the line instead of where you are right now. Over-hire who will help you not only get there but achieve there.
- Aim for unified, not siloed, processes and systems. When you have a problem, consider how it will impact all teams, from sales to GTM to finance. Break down every part of the process to ensure all teams are set up for success. The journey to 10x growth will be much simpler and smoother if you can unify systems and processes.