Last week’s SaaS North conference packed a powerhouse of content, key players and excitement into a two-day window. Coming away from this year’s conference there was no question that SaaS continues to be a force to be reckoned with in today’s technology landscape.  At Martello, we were lucky enough to have several members of our team attend SaaS North. Around the water cooler, the feedback was consistent and clear – this year’s conference has set the bar for SaaS driven content.  There were several key messages that rang that out consistently during the conference.

Make Your Focus Laser Sharp

The world is moving at lightning speed, and this is never more apparent than in the SaaS world where a lack of focus can quickly kill startups. Focus on your core product and customer base and work hard to solve a real problem for them. You should be skeptical about the latest and greatest gadgets that promise to increase productivity or when someone starts touting something as the ‘next best thing’. While it might seem counterintuitive, companies should practice saying ‘NO’ until they get very comfortable with the idea of turning away from opportunities that distract from this focus.

Your Brand is Critical

In a sea of SaaS companies how do you get yours to stand out? The answer is: brand, brand and brand. Driven home at SaaS North was how critical it is to build your brand. We all want to position our product as the best and brightest and to do this we often roll out a laundry list of features and benefits. It is the brand of your company that truly becomes your key differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Branding has traditionally been viewed as its own unique exercise, but it is brand appreciation and recognition that creates purchase intent in your buyer. Today’s customers think brand when it comes time to buy and if your product has perceived value, you should not have to ‘sell it’ if your brand is strong.

The Age of the Hyper-Educated Customer

Today, when customers are looking for a new product they do their research. By the time they are ready to make a purchase they typically have extensive knowledge about the product, have read reviews, know the competition and are ready to make a purchase. On the flip side, customers are more distracted than ever and are bombarded by messaging from multiple channels. Great sales reps cultivate emotional connections with customers who are looking for outcomes, not sales transactions. As an industry, we need to redefine the roles of sales and marketing to meet the needs of customers and provide them with bespoke content and the best possible customer experiences. Customer engagement is truly the way to increase SaaS growth and both your sales and marketing teams will rise or fall together.

Pick a Good Dance Partner

When you are first getting your SaaS off the ground there are several growth paths to consider.. For many start-ups, the real innovation challenge lies not in the technology, but in taking a thoughtful approach to their go to market strategy. In our early days, Martello quickly recognized that our SaaS could solve a business problem for Mitel. A partnership was born, and has delivered success to both Mitel and Martello.SaaS North was a great opportunity for Martello CEO, Bruce Linton and Mitel’s Jim Davies to share that story and the lessons learned in building a successful partnership. It is critical for start-ups to look at all opportunities and not be quick to discount forging a key relationship as a growth strategy. Looking for some more partnership hacks for SaaS growth? Take a look at the blog we wrote for L-Spark.

SaaS North continues to grow and gain traction, another sign of Canada’s burgeoning global role in SaaS. One of the hidden gems from the conference was the report complied by L-Spark titled “State of SaaS 2017” which takes a deep dive into the highlights and growth from the Canadian SaaS ecosystem over the past year. The dates for next year’s conference are already booked into our calendar and we can’t wait to gather the SaaS community together again. Kudos to the entire SaaS North team for making this conference a reality. See you in 2018!