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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.

Enterprise Software as a Service Market Forecast: The Future is Already Here – It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed

The prescient quote by William Gibson aptly describes the worldwide Software as a Service (SaaS) market today, especially in the enterprise.

Global adoption and growth of SaaS within enterprises is unevenly distributed yet growing rapidly.  One of the primary catalysts moving this forward are Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and other platform providers lowering the barriers to creating new applications, continually investing in security technologies, and streamlining rapid prototyping, testing, and release of SaaS applications.

This week Salesforce showed how extensive the momentum is in their global base of developers during Dreamforce ’11.  The Developer Zone had the most innovation per square foot of any venue at this conference.  Insights gained from visiting the sessions at Dreamforce, speaking with Force evangelists and tech staff, and also with attendees form the basis of the following analysis and insights.  On Friday of last week Gartner also released the report, Forecast: Software as a Service, All Regions, 2010-2015 by Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Yanna Dharmasthira, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster, Tsuyoshi Ebina, Hai Hong Swinehart, which validated several of the trends seen in the Developer Zone at Dreamforce ’11.

Forecasting the Growth of SaaS in the Enterprise, 2015

In speaking with developers, vendors and after reviewing the Gartner report, here are several insights gained that illustrate how SaaS adoption will vary by region over the next four years:

  • APIs are getting more adept at managing multi-party transactions across all platforms.  Marc Benioff and Chuck Phillips alluded to this when Infor announced Inforce this week at Dreamforce.  It was also evident in how partners in the Developer Zone were demonstrating frameworks for supporting more advanced enterprise software application development.  These included supply chain management, the ability to manage complex project plans more effectively using apps based on these APIs, and greater control over collaboration development.  Gartner published their total software revenue forecast for SaaS delivery, 2007 – 2015 back in June, and a table from that analysis is shown below.  Their forecast reflects in large part depth of REST APIs which are part of Web Services.   This table is from the report, Forecast: Software as a Service, Worldwide, 2010-2015, 1H11 Update, 22 June 2011, ID:G00213816, Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster.
  • Graphical interface flexibility, usability options, localization, and local language support dominate EMEA concerns about SaaS.  In Dreamforce sessions attended and in the Gartner report, it’s clear Salesforce is struggling to make localization work more effectively via their programming platforms and tools in EMEA.  This came out during many of the discussions in the Developer Zone as well.  All platform providers are facing this challenge, yet the pace of new API enhancements shows significant potential.  As a result the forecast for SaaS revenue in Western Europe is forecasted to be $2.66B in 2011 growing to $4.8B in 2015, achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% according to Gartner.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is aggressively pushed by Salesforce in the U.S. yet is most effective in EMEA.  This became evident in discussions and presentations, and also was validated by the recent Gartner report.  Salesforce also has extensive TCO calculators on its Force developer sites for the U.S. yet ironically they are finding they are most effective in EMEA sales cycles.
  • Based on my informal poll 20% of iPad-to-Salesforce account demos failed at Dreamforce.    Dozens of companies were hyping their iPad clients at Dreamforce, yet I found nearly one in five failed to deliver reliable performance. While the sample is hardly scientific, it does show that the iPad to Salesforce integration so heavily hyped by so many vendors is still nascent.  It’s as if these companies invested so much on iPad clients they ran out of time to make the back-end integrations work reliably.  Gartner found that lack of integration is the single greatest inhibitor to SaaS growth in North America.
  • Ease of speed and deployment, limited capital expense, and lower TCO are the most critical factors driving SaaS growth in U.S. enterprises today.  This became evident from listening to customer testimonials during the many vendor sessions in Moscone West, in addition to discussions with developers.  The impact of these factors is also evident in the total software revenue forecast for SaaS delivery within enterprise application software markets by region, 2008 – 2015.   This is from the Gartner report, Forecast: Software as a Service, All Regions, 2010-2015. Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Yanna Dharmasthira, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster, Tsuyoshi Ebina, Hai Hong Swinehart.

  • CRM continues to dominate SaaS usage across all enterprise applications, closely followed by Web conferencing and e-learning in North America and Northern Europe.  Both North America and Northern Europe have comparable adoption trends regarding these SaaS applications, with Western and Southern Europe lagging in terms of adoption and spending.
  • Asia/Pacific continues to be the most fragmented of all regions when it comes to SaaS adoption in the enterprise.  Countries with greater stability of their Internet infrastructures including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are experiencing greater SaaS growth, and also contributing to Salesforce’s success in these regions.  Salesforce has 14.5% CRM share in this region, third behind SAP and Oracle. Emerging countries are the most rapid adopters of SaaS-based accounting, e-mail and collaboration-based apps.
  • China, India and Malaysia are experiencing the most rapid adoption of SaaS-based enterprise applications in the Asia/Pacific region.  WiPro’s decision to invest so heavily in Dreamforce as a promotional event is a case in point.  The Developer Zone had  several companies from this region offering their programming and system integration services as well.

Bottom line: SaaS adoption continues to accelerate globally across enterprise software, growing from $12B in 2011 to $21B in 2015, achieving a 16.3% CAGR annually. Platform providers are knocking down the barriers to market growth by using events including Dreamforce to educate, entertain and enable developers to quickly turn concepts into applications.

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