I’ve just spoken to about 100 SaaS founders and execs at SaaStock in Dublin about metrics, goal setting and managing growth.
It would appear that a common position on goal setting is:
- We have tried to implement a system to set-up goals but gave up
- Some teams like Sales have goals, other teams don’t
- We’ve set targets in our budgets
As someone that’s investing in a solution for managing SaaS growth, with goal setting at the core, this is really interesting.
However, my first thoughts are more general. When you decide to do an initiative that is designed to support growth, how do you run it, assess its impact and decide on next steps?
Businesses are littered with examples of ‘I tried that once, it didn’t work’. These include small initiatives like using PPC to generate leads and using outbound sales to increase
Let’s explore the above examples more and be clear that I’m only scratching the surface here.
I’ve seen marketing teams invest sub-optimal budgets,
To run a real PPC experiment you need to have the right budget, that can deliver sufficient clicks in order to assess and optimize a range of keywords. You need to have specific landing pages and optimize their performance based on the data you’re getting back, and you’ve got to track your goals and attribute value intelligently.
I’ve seen teams do outbound sales with poor quality lists, that don’t fit their ideal customer profile, using ways of engaging the lead that have little chance of working (even if the customer was a potential opportunity), and then say “Outbound doesn’t work.”
It’s pretty obvious that outbound requires great lead sources, effective ways to open conversations and create engagement, and lead nurturing for those who don’t want to buy right now.
There is no debate that companies, teams and individuals with goals perform better than those that don’t have them.
The case studies of tech companies that have managed rapid growth with goal setting at the heart of what they do are everywhere—the most famous being Google.
Why does goal setting work? Because being aligned, focused, ambitious, accountable, transparent, engaged, well managed, and recognized, is obviously good for business, and it’s great for the people in the business.
Can you imagine the impact of not optimizing these?
Being sub-optimally aligned and focused. Or safe, not ambitious. Or being unaccountable, with invisible goals. Or having a poorly engaged workforce. And my personal favourite, not knowing and recognizing who your real talent is.
So, when I hear about companies that haven’t cracked goal setting yet I am both understanding and saddened.
I understand that getting it right is not easy and takes some investment. The tools people use, like spreadsheets, are not designed to manage the process and develop the performance culture you need. Which is why I founded a new SaaS Growth Management Solution, ZOKRI, but that’s another story.
On the other hand, I am saddened. Not executing best practice growth management practices seems a waste of potential.
Do our best work
I don’t think we knowingly do average work. But I do think as SaaS leaders we can often demand, inspire and do much better work. How?
We can start with setting out our expectations and requirements, and implementing systems and processes that support them.
Here’s what I propose as a solution to the poorly run initiative.
- Set expectation and support: We need to tell our people that we expect, and will support, their best work. Don’t assume they know this or that you’re doing this. This could mean having the right amount of time, money, or training available. Not doing your best work is not OK.
- Set-up systems & processes: We need to implement systems and processes that support our best work. This can include goal setting, but also things like processes for running initiatives. Simple steps like: What is the initiative’s hypothesis? What does success look like? What is needed to run the initiative successfully? Is this aligned with our goals? What happened? What did we learn? Should we do it again?
So, I propose we’re all brave enough to take a fresh look at all the things we’ve tried and dismissed. Did you really try that? Or in the case of goal setting, can you really afford to not succeed in implementing an effective goal management system?