What can be said about growth in the SaaS landscape in 2023? It’s unique. It’s challenging. Maybe best of all it’s hopeful. We can say decidedly: there’s a stark contrast between today and in 2020 and 2021. New business is the slowest it’s been in years. Our data shows an uptick in 2023, possibly a light at the end of a long slow-growth tunnel. Despite this, how companies approach growth strategies has fundamentally shifted.
ChartMogul hosts a panel of industry experts to cover the far-reaching topic: SaaS Growth Trends in 2023. Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine, Daria Danilina, Co-founder, Salesroom, and Peter Walker, Head of Insights at Carta share their insights and experiences.
Sid Jain, Senior Analyst at ChartMogul, joins to moderate the discussion. After analyzing data from over 2,100 SaaS startups to publish the SaaS Benchmarks Report 2023 Sid is full of insights on the topic at hand.
Here are some key insights the panel touches on:
- SaaS growth is the slowest in recent history.
- Logo acquisition is harder: upselling and retention are crucial.
- What signals are indicative of SaaS growth rebounding in 2023?
SaaS growth is the slowest in recent history
2020 and 2021 were amazing growth years. 2022, however, was not as impressive. The top quartile of SaaS business with ARR between $1 and $30 million grew 62.1% in 2022 (vs. 93.4% in 2020 and 78.9% in 2021). Fingers crossed for 2023, we’re seeing some cause for (early) optimism. Growth for companies with ARR over $1m accelerated in Q1 2023.
How did SaaS growth get to this point
Are we experiencing normal economic ebb and flow? Christoph elaborates on how a long-term, strong economic market with low interest rates led to an influx of capital in the system. The result: a bubble. Expectations in the industry became exaggerated and unsustainable. What we’re experiencing now is a painful reset. Click here to watch this point.
I think what we in the SaaS world experience right now is not really limited to SaaS. It’s tied to a global macroeconomic downturn. Maybe in some ways, SaaS companies are more affected than other companies. (e.g.) If you’re mostly selling to venture capital-funded startups a lot of them are probably trying to reduce their burn rate, so they will look at SaaS spend. (…) There are also aspects of SaaS as a business model or industry that make it really strong in tough times.Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine
SaaS products are often first on the chopping block when companies affected by shrinking revenue look to slow their burn rate. In the next section, the live panel covers some strategies to protect you from getting cut out of your client’s tech stack.
Logo acquisition is harder: upselling and retention are crucial
When new business falters, shifting resources to retention and upselling can hedge losses and boost revenue. Increasing focus on retention to generate income was a common thread in our ChartMogul Live discussion about retention trends.
In a time like this when companies freeze budgets or try to cut costs the first thing is they don’t buy anything new. After that, they see what they can cut from their existing spend.Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine
More and more, retention strategies are being viewed as growth strategies. Data analyzed in our two most recent reports show that retention and expansion revenue increases in converse with shrinking new business numbers. Click here to watch this point.
Go the extra mile for existing customers
Daria reflects on the shift in how companies look at renewals. In the past, it was something almost automatic. Renewal, payment, happy days. Things have changed and renewals demand and deserve more attention. Treating renewals as rediscoveries, Daria elaborates, gives you the chance to realign with your existing customers and help prevent churn.
You have to go back to the drawing board and be like ‘What are you still trying to accomplish, what have you accomplished, what are your goals this year?’ A lot of sales teams are not set up that way. For many customer success managers, it’s a slightly different skill set. I know a lot of sales leaders who are trying to make their customer success managers a little bit more like account executives and have account executives stay on accounts a bit longer.Daria Danilina, Co-founder, Salesroom
Keeping in contact with your existing clientele and making sure you’re still providing value is crucial. Having champions pays off in dividends when it comes time for organizations to re-evaluate their SaaS tech stacks. Peter drives this point home, reflecting on his own experiences at Carta.
We just did an exercise at Carta where we reviewed our SaaS spend. (…) To your point about champions, the first cut was when people didn’t speak up. If no one spoke up for a tool it was the easiest possible thing to cut. I love the idea of building champions across the business.Peter Walker, Head of Insights at Carta
What signals are indicative of SaaS growth rebounding in 2023
As we said, 2020 and 2021 were awesome SaaS growth years. When are we getting back to that? It’s a question on most people’s minds as we look eagerly for signs of rejuvenation in the market. Where exactly should we be looking? What are some definitive signs that growth is bouncing back? Jump to this point in the discussion.
Time to fundraise. That metric has been getting progressively lengthened and it kind of topped out this past quarter so perhaps if it starts going back down on a median basis I think that’s fantastic.Peter Walker, Head of Insights at Carta
Quota attainment. I think once people start hitting quotas that means that everyone is ready to grow again.Daria Danilina, Co-founder, Salesroom
The velocity of leads, sales cycles, and customer conversations. Ultimately you’ll see it in your own numbers and in the quantity and quality of the conversations with customers and prospects. Unless that happens, you can’t really bet on anything.Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine
Thank you again to our fantastic panel. It was a rewarding discussion, we were happy to be a part of it. Check out the full live panel on our YouTube channel, or at the top of this post.
We were joined by:
Managing Partner at Point Nine
Christoph is a long-time Internet entrepreneur turned angel investor turned early-stage VC.
Before co-founding Point Nine in 2011, he was one of the first angel investors in companies like Zendesk, FreeAgent, Geckoboard, and Momox.
In the 15 years before that, he started several companies, including two consumer Internet startups.
Daria co-founded Salesroom, the only video conferencing platform built specifically for customer-facing interactions.
As Chief Customer Officer, Daria works directly with Salesroom’s customers to drive adoption and expand the user base.
Prior to founding Salesroom, Daria was an investor at Oxx, a growth-stage B2B software investment fund.
Head of Insights at Carta
Peter Walker runs the Insights team at Carta, focused on discovering key data and narratives across the private capital ecosystem.
In a former life, he was a marketing executive for a media analytics startup and led the data visualization team at the Covid Tracking Project.
He lives in San Francisco with his wife and 6-month old puppy.