In January 2021, we launched the 2021 SaaS influencer report. And in amongst the 25 names was Claire Suellentrop, a legendary SaaS presence who co-founded Forget the Funnel.
Claire was kind enough to spend time answering our questions about her career and approach to working life in SaaS.
And you don’t want to miss her insightful answers on daily motivations, achievements, ambitions, and advice for startups. 👇
Q: What keeps you motivated day in, day out?
That shared mission is to amplify the voices of those in tech who are underrepresented, undervalued, or underestimated, which brings purpose and structure to the work we do.
Q: What would you say is your biggest achievement in SaaS so far?
A: The development of the Customer-Led Growth Framework, which was a huge focal point for both Gia and myself during 2020.
Customer-Led Growth (CLG) is a strategic approach to business growth that leverages customer insights to qualify and quantify customer value, then operationalize and optimize the end-to-end customer experience—through a constant, iterative cycle of research, mapping and action.
Q: What’s the best career lesson you’ve learned?
A: The biggest lesson, which I am continually learning, failing at, and relearning, was shared with me by Bob Moesta: your life needs to shape your work, and not the other way around.
If you value time with family, then charge enough for your services, and streamline or outsource your processes, enough to be able to take a Friday off to hang out with your niece. If you always tend to burn out around the same time every year (for me it’s usually September), acknowledge that.
Then adapt your workload accordingly: plan for a few busy months leading up to that time period, then actually block out space in your calendar to rest.
As a hardcore achiever, I have an ever-present urge to be accomplishing something, so creating space for the non-work areas of my life feels counterintuitive. But making progress on this will be one of my top priorities in 2021.
Q: What would you say are the most important skills in your area of SaaS?
A: Empathy, communication, and follow-through.
Empathy is paramount to properly gathering customer research and pulling the necessary insights.
Communication is critical to sharing those insights with the larger organization, and getting everyone bought in + excited.
Strong follow-through is needed to operationalize those learnings, so they can be used to make a meaningful impact on revenue.
Q: What’s the #1 tip for SaaS business success?
A: A deep understanding of who your ideal customer is, what struggle they’re trying to overcome, and why they buy, is the foundation for literally everything else.
Q: What’s your advice for those starting out in SaaS?
A: That really depends on the role the person is in. Are they an employee? If so, is it a SaaS startup or a more mature SaaS? Are they a founder? If so, of a self-funded company, or a heavily VC-backed company? Are they a freelancer or consultant hoping to serve SaaS companies? The answer is quite different for each of these scenarios.
So, I guess my advice would be to reach me on Twitter, and let me know what situation you’re in, so we can have a more tailored and relevant-to-you conversation there. 😀
Q: What’s your favourite thing about the world of SaaS?
A: The SaaS space, like any other niche, is imperfect. There is tons of work to be done. Such as making SaaS jobs more accessible to people who didn’t grow up in tech bubbles.
Additionally, the group of people seen as leaders in the SaaS space—VCs, founders, executives, board members, thought leaders—that group as a whole needs to be much more diverse than it currently is.
A particular bright spot in the world of SaaS, however, is that so many people in the SaaS community are willing to share what they’re learning, what’s working, and what’s not working in their company-building journey.
It’s quite a friendly, generous space in terms of knowledge sharing and support.
This matters because that access to knowledge and support provides opportunities for nontraditional upward mobility.
Even if you enter the SaaS space in an entry-level position, with no plans to get your MBA (and in some cases without even an undergrad degree), you can still make meaningful progress toward a high-paying career that enables you to provide for your family and support your community.
Looking for more SaaS advice?
Want to see what Claire and the 24 other influencers have to say about achieving success in SaaS? Get your free download. 👇
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