Time is Money: Optimising your team for peak performance in a SaaS company

Insights 08 Feb 2024 by Mohamed Makarem

In the world of Software as a Service (SaaS), the saying ‘Time is Money’ is not merely a catchy phrase, or a motivational sentence printed on a bumper sticker: it’s a mantra, and one that underlies how SaaS companies become successful or fail. It’s not merely a matter of coding well. For a SaaS company to succeed, you have to do more than fill seats with people and watch them deliver on your vision. You need to deliver your project as efficiently and effectively as possible because, if you don’t, your competitors will – and will make more money doing so than you. It’s an environment where figuring out how to optimise your team is not merely a nice-to-have, but a must-do for any company that wants to survive the cut-throat political battles where money is to be made.

However, as unique as the SaaS world is, it is just as tough to ramp up. Constantly changing landscapes and constantly evolving competitive rules are par for the course: if you’re building a plane while flying, imagine all the more that you’re doing so at 35,000 feet. In this article, we will dive into the nitty-gritty of high-performance team dynamics as they apply to SaaS – when the best way is the fastest way – and what every second really means.

Understanding SaaS Optimization

Welcome to the circus of SaaS optimisation. The performance versus cost knife toss is trickier than a bug-eating, car-smashing, rotating-winglets high-wire walk. SaaS optimisation is like a two-legged bench. You need both legs for it to be stable. And, as you’ll read, the legs are an exacta of pain. The first leg of optimisation is about making your app run as smoothly as a buttered slide. The second leg is about trying to get more value with each licence.

On a practical level, I have always envisioned this when thinking about a SaaS stack: think of your set of tools. Each one (or application) has its place, but do you really need three hammers when every task requires a nail? That’s where the fun starts – having a ‘top-down view’ of your SaaS stack is key. You’re the conductor of an orchestra, each instrument (or application) needs to play its score, but not overstep each other.

In other words, we’re aiming for two things: First, improving application performance for an experience so magnificent that it might well have users break into song. Second, optimising SaaS spend and usage, because, you know, there’s nothing like blowing money on unused gym memberships. Much less unused software licences.

Now, we can fast forward and get into the blood and guts and numbers of selling, and the science of optimising a sales team’s performance, so they can not just march, but cha-cha through the sales funnel.

Optimising Sales Team Performance

Next, let’s put on the sales penguin suit, delve into the fishbowl that SaaS sales teams occasionally find themselves in, and get the rockstars of the company to shine their brightest. To do this, you’re going to need a few numbers that your business generates that, like a magician’s rabbit, are far more useful than the pretty picture you get back from them. What we really need to look at are lead conversion rates, how rapidly leads move down the sales funnel, and how healthy your lead pipeline actually is. Your business’s sales bowels.

But the fun doesn’t stop at tracking these metrics. Following leads through the funnel step by step with a sushi enthusiast’s eye for detail lets us figure out where things are going inefficiently. Maybe leads are getting backed up somewhere along the funnel, or maybe there’s a step that poorly-qualified leads are just not grooving with. Tracking each point of the funnel allows us to tune the sales process like a Stradivarius so that it sings to leads.

And the time! Handling time in the sales cycle is like working in the line kitchen of a busy restaurant; it’s all timing! This will help you manage expectations and get your sales forecasting down to an art that can predict better than a gypsy.

Finally, it’s time to elevate broad SaaS performance. Think of fixing your race car’s oil tank to serve as a nitro boost. OK, let’s go!

Strategies for Improving SaaS Performance

Here are some strategies to make your SaaS cheat faster than a running back in tempo. The first and most important: getting a win on the end-user side. We don’t just mean prettying up your application here, although that certainly helps make apps run smoother than an alto sax solo on some A-flat: getting to the point where your users would rather go without their Monday morning coffee than give up your app.

Forget about siloed observability. So last season. This is about holistic vision: you need to see A through Z — all the way through your delivery chain. X-ray vision for cloud services and technology.

And I want to deal with an elephant in the room: legacy monitoring. Using them might as well be attempting to catch a fish with your bare hands – not impossible, but why make it harder? You’d better go with modern, flexible tools. Think of upgrading from your flip phone to the latest smartphone.

This next-gen digital enterprise philosophy isn’t just a lot of hype – it means being as agile and responsive as a chameleon, prepared to support whatever next-gen digital infrastructure a company needs to build its spaceship for the latest adventure in the digital world.

Structuring a Marketing Team for Optimal Performance

All teams matter Mostly, it is time to put your marketing Avengers together to create a SaaS company marketing dream team. Small, medium or large, you’ll get it right once — as much as your grandma got that recipe right, when she passed it on to you.

Since we’re talking about small SaaS businesses, you don’t really have a dedicated marketing department. Instead, you have the content silo, comprised of four or five overworked but supremely talented folks who wear many hats. Startup life is not for squishies. Each member of the team brings their unique skills, from producing videos and blogging to article copywriting, and executing the dreaded task of managing communities on social media channels. The critical role in this setup is played by a content marketing team leader. He plays a role in each of the playbooks listed above, which is why I’ve likened him to a quarterback.

By the time your business has reached a certain medium size, your marketing team generally comes to resemble a properly established jazz band. At this point, you are likely to be acquiring additional roles – a drummer to take charge of SEO, a saxophonist to handle email marketing, perhaps a pianist to orchestrate the analytics. Cohesion of strategy becomes the buzzword here.

And for the giants of the SaaS market, hey there, marketing orchestra. Now each company typically has separate departments for different marketing elements: your brass section for advertising, your strings for public relations. Each section plays its part, but the conductor (your Chief Marketing Officer) makes the performance the symphony that it ought to be.

And after that, we start layering in digital infrastructure for IT services on SaaS. Your technological kingdom is nearly complete! Watch out, everyone, we are laying the groundwork for the foundation of your tech kingdom.

Enhancing IT Infrastructure for SaaS Applications

Welcome to the techy trenches of infrastructure optimisation for SaaS applications, where the internal battle that gets as furious as the final round of an Iron Chef, and where each decision can raise your SaaS application-performance bar.

Second, agility, knowing just what your environment needs to thrive. Can an existing data centre location (hardware) be used as an opportunity on-ramp to the cloud? Or is it more of a software problem with better storage and optimisations that will allow an application to flourish? These are specific decisions that apply the right smart colocation and cloud on-ramp decisions to make your ‘plants’ (applications) bloom.

Next, pricing. Fixing your SaaS apps doesn’t need to cost a fortune. It’s like buying the best ingredients without sacrificing your weekly grocery budget. You want to make your application run faster so your users have a better user experience while the app response time drops. In short, make it the digital version of Usain Bolt.

And finally, a trick of the trade: think about the geography of your data centres. Just as with the location of stores in the real world, it can sometimes be crucial where you place your data centres. You want to be close to the action. You want your users to feel like they’re running quickly and smoothly.

Tadah! We’ve made it, kids! We took you on a wild ride of team optimisation at a B2B SaaS company – there was more swerves than in a forensic detective novel. We jazzed up your sales team and went synergistic on your marketing squad – we covered team optimisation A to Z at a B2B SaaS company.

But remember, SaaS is as much an instrument as it is a piece of software. In other words, optimising your team is like tuning or plucking that instrument and getting it to sing in a way that can magically harmonise with every other instrument to make beautiful music. Whether it’s application routing, marketing dream teams, or IT infrastructure turbocharging, they all take their part in the song and dance of this symphony of success.

Now it’s your turn! Have you had experiences with growing / shrinking / optimising your SaaS team? Let’s continue the discussion and share our experiences and grow the community’s pool of knowledge. And if you’re still thirsty and want to read more or talk more to someone, by all means, go for it. Because, whether we’re talkin’ SaaS or whatever else nowadays – we’re all students and teachers, and this dance moves anyway.