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Lessons Learned From The 2013 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey

Pacific Crest SurveyDeveloping the ability to upsell existing customers into longer-term, higher value contracts that are multi-year in duration is one of the most critically important skill sets any SaaS business needs to attain.

These and other insights were gained from analyzing the 2013 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey, published earlier this month by David Skok.   The survey is based on responses from 155 SaaS companies, compiled by Pacific Crest Securities.   David’s blog For Entrepreneurs provides excellent content on SaaS metrics, start-up advice and a wealth on insight in the areas of sales and marketing, business models and the specifics of how to manage a SaaS business model profitability.

Key take-aways from the 2013 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey include the following:

  • Median GAAP revenue growth increased by 41% in 2012, projected to reach 47% in 2013 across all 155 SaaS companies included in the analysis.  When smaller companies whose revenue growth projections are excluded, median revenue growth for 2012 was 32%, projected to increase to 36% this year.  The following two figures illustrate distribution of revenue growth by number of companies.

  • The fastest growing SaaS companies have median contract sizes that are between $1K to $25K.  Companies’ with less than $2M in revenue were excluded from this analysis given the smaller deal sizes they generate.

  • The larger the median ACV (Annual Contract Value) the greater the reliance on field sales.  In results from previous surveys Pacific Crest found that mid-tier companies were more reliant on inside sales.  54% of respondents in the $5K to $25K ACV segment of companies this year are reliant on insider sales, up from 33% in 2012.
  • 13% of new ACV is generated from upsells across all SaaS companies, with the largest capable of expanding into other departments and divisions of existing customers.  SaaS companies with sales over $60M are generating 32% of new ACV from upsell strategies. It’s interesting to note that upsell is a more effective strategy at gaining market share versus marketing spending, and this hold true across sizes of SaaS companies.  The following graphic illustrates percentage of new ACV by size of SaaS company and an analysis showing the fastest-growth SaaS companies generate a higher proportion of new ACV from upsells compared to their peers.
  • 76% gross margins are being achieved across all respondents.  This does not change significantly when smaller companies are removed from the analysis.
  • Try-Before-You-Buy is used far more often than Freemium because it generates additional sales.  The following graphic shows the expected contribution of each to ACV in 2013:

  • Professional Services are 12% of 1rst year ACV across all customer segments.  Selling professional services into the enterprise generates 23% of first year ACV according to the study.  A graphic showing the distribution of first year ACV as a percentage of professional services by customer segment is shown below:

  • SaaS companies who primarily rely on Internet-based distribution methods are attaining the highest growth rates.  When companies with less than $2M in revenue were taken out of the analysis, those companies primarily based on inside sales grew 10% more than field sales.  The following graphic presents this analysis, excluding companies with less than $2M in revenue.

  • 37% of respondent companies rely on field sales as their primary means of distribution followed by inside sales (29%) and Internet sales (17%).  When smaller companies with sales less than $2M are excluded, field sales jumps to 50% of all respondents using this method as a primary means of distribution.  Inside sales (29%) and Internet sales (8%) are second and third.  While Internet sales is the cheapest form of distribution, it also leads to the highest churn rates (9%) recorded in the survey.

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