In Search of the Mythical VP Sales & Marketing

I have to admit to harboring an extreme prejudice.

It rears its ugly head when a start up CEO comes into our office to take us through their business, introduces the management team and describes one of the executives as the “VP Sales & Marketing”.

Minimizing the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Ratio

Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with people regarding my version of the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) ratio. As a reminder, my version of the CAC ratio is: [($Total Sales + $Total Marketing)/$First Year Contract Value]. The objective is to make the CAC ratio less than 1 which implies a customer acquisition payback of a year or less. This is the ratio I recommend companies use to measure their sales/marketing effectiveness. I discussed this a year or so ago in this blog in a post titled The Capital Needed to Create a SaaS Company”.

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SaaS: Lead Generation – Not Sales Capacity – Drives the Model

One of the key issues that concerns investors and management teams alike vis a vis the SaaS business model is its potential to consume a large amount of capital until finally reaching profitability. Many people have written about this topic, including me.

SaaS companies are typically built upon a stream of relatively low cost subscription licenses, paid out monthly/quarterly/annually — even multi-annually. Unfortunately, for the vendor, the subscription model usually generates far less up front cash than a traditional ‘perpetual license’ software model. But, over time, the compounding effect of the SaaS model can build into a nice annuitystream — provided churn rates are minimized.

It is this up front cash differential that is the primary appeal of the SaaS model over the traditional software model with customers. However, this differential is also what makes the model vexing for the SaaS management team and the investors.

Creating Global Market Leadership

The Power of Brand in the Technology Markets

I have listened to hundreds of presentations from entrepreneurs looking for funding since I joined InterWest Partners. They all have one thing in common: the majority of the presentation is spent on the product they are building and the market they are targeting.

Similarly, when a venture firm does its due diligence, it spends a significant amount of time and effort speaking with current or prospective customers and analysts to gauge their level of interest, the importance to the business, ROI, usage rates, etc.

This is all very laudable.

However, if you were to perform autopsies of technology start-ups that have failed, I think you would find that most were able to build the products they said they would—and that the customers who purchased them received more than marginal utility from them.