📕 What separates Unicorns from VC backed failures; The framework for a better business story; Problem focused roadmaps...

Welcome back to The SaaS Playbook, a weekly rundown of the top articles, tactics, and thought leadership in B2B SaaS. Not a subscriber yet?


🦄 There’s been lots of analysis around what VC backed unicorns have in common, but not enough on startups that took venture but failed to take off. After all, you need a control group to help put those unicorn numbers in context. That’s what Ali Tamaseb (a partner at DCVC) spent the last couple years doing, gathering over 30k data points to see what truly separated big winners from the rest of the pack. He debunks some myths with his analysis, including that unicorns need to be led by technical founders (50.5% of unicorn founders were non-technical, similar to the control group) as well as the idea that unicorns should target whitespace opportunities (85% of unicorns had competition from Day 1).

🌡️ Powerful business narratives don’t just make the listener excited, they make you think. Eric Feng, Facebook’s VP of Commerce Innovations, shared how the best business stories can be broken down into 3 parts: framing (describing the business in a natural, almost obvious way), proximity (why the founder has a unique relationship with the problem they solve), and relatability (making it relevant). A great example he points to is home automation tool Nest. Their mission was to ”reinvent unloved home products to create simple, beautiful, thoughtful things”, a fantastic message because the framing makes their solution seem inevitable. Turns out it was, considering they got acquired by Google for 3.2b.


🏭  The Net Promoter Score (NPS) method for measuring customer satisfaction certainly has its flaws, but it’s hard to argue that a high NPS isn’t reflective of a well engineered product and support team. Entytle, a CRM for industrial OEMs, shared some tips on how they were able to get their score up to a 61 (stellar in NPS terms) during the middle of a pandemic. They emphasize delivering value quickly, which can be pretty hard for enterprise products with longer implementation times such as themselves. Their team cleverly battles this by giving users easy wins during onboarding, like teasers showing what a fully ramped up user looks like to build excitement, and keeping initial onboarding sessions light so they don't overwhelm.

🧐 The Product Coalition group had an interesting write up on why you should separate problems and solutions in your roadmaps. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but meshing problems with solutions right off the bat assumes the next feature you build will solve your current problem. In reality, the best way to solve your problem might not be a new feature – it could be a change to an existing one or even deleting one altogether. Building a problem focused roadmap, where each of your teams works on a specific problem (manifested in the form on an OKR), and dedicating significant time to uncover and validate the problems which exist,  is their suggested solution.


🧬 Operating software products is closer to a science than an art. Today, companies track and analyze their product data meticulously, with a proven book of formulas to guide their decision making. In Jacco Van Der Kooj’s The SaaS Sales Method, he explains why SaaS sales should be no different, and offers some literal blueprints for scaling out your sales function. There is a great outline of the SaaS methodology  Van Der Kooj covers in the book on his sales consulting site, Winning by Design, for those looking for a quicker read.