Our QuotaPath team has safely returned from California and is eager to share their wins. Here, we recap SaaStr 2021.
“I didn’t have any expectations going in, but it was clear as soon as we arrived that the energy was ramped up ten times, ”said AJ Bruno, QuotaPath CEO and Co-founder.
For many of the 5,000 attendees, and for our nine team members, SaaStr 2021 marked everyone’s first conference since the pandemic had begun.
“SaaStr’s event team did a great job with COVID-19 protocols,” AJ said. “Lines and signage were clear, and the messaging of the event was very relatable to current times.”
The overall vibe undulated between upbeat and optimistic. For instance, signage throughout the outdoor venue turned away attendees if they had symptoms of COVID-19, racism, and homophobia. Additionally, an event DJ complemented keynote addresses and booth visitors with an ongoing set of catchy jams.
So, QuotaPath met SaaStr with open arms, and we’re happy to report that SaaStr attendees returned the love.
“We had a weird, low-key buzz about us,” AJ said. “People would visit our booth and mention how they heard our name four times that day.”
A myriad of conversations followed regarding the challenges of paying sales commissions properly.
“Every time I introduced someone to QuotaPath, they said they’ve had this exact problem,” AJ said, who addressed a large crowd on the second day about how to grow a sales team.
By the end, our team had conducted more than 30 formal demos on sight while setting up more than 150 follow-ups since the event. We also treated attendees to printable custom avatar stickers, thanks to the work from our talented marketing engineering team.
As COO and Co-founder Cole Evetts put it: The QuotaPath hype is real.
“We have a ton of opportunities ahead of us, and we couldn’t be more excited!” Cole said.
To close out the event, we asked AJ to share his key observations from SaaStr 2021.
Meeting people in person reigns supreme
The pandemic forced a handful of introductions to be conducted virtually. Many of us adapted and made it work out of lack of other options.
For instance, AJ met Gradient Ventures investor Asif Moosani for the first time over a conference call during quarantine. They have continued bi-weekly meetings in a virtual setting ever since.
At SaaStr, they finally got to shake hands.
“It’s so good to meet people in person again,” AJ said. “The conversations from the past year become a lot more real and you’re able to make a better connection.”
Product-led growth is not a new concept
Product-led growth (PLG) conversations dominated the conference. But for the right reasons?
AJ said he noticed a wild amount of PLG talk, with speakers leveraging it as a buzzword as if it’s a new concept. Quite the contrary.
“It’s not a new trend,” said Shawn Herring, PandaDoc’s VP of marketing, in a recent Forbes article. “For some years now, people have been doing their own research long before they engage with sales.”
AJ, who has studied PLG for three years, also got the impression that the SaaStr speakers highlighting it didn’t actually come from PLG companies and seemed to not fully understand it.
“When I talk about QuotaPath, I won’t even say it’s product-led, because we started as a customer-led company, first and foremost,” AJ said. “That allows us to focus on the end user, the time to value, and how quickly we can onboard.”
Practice makes perfect
Lastly, the vast amount of virtual events set public speakers back a bit. With the return of in-person conferences, it’s time for people to re-up their public speaking skills.
AJ said he observed several panelists responding directly and only to moderators.
“It felt like they were still on Zoom calls,” AJ said, adding that speaker mannerisms, in general, felt “off.”
This resulted in a lack of connection between the speakers and the audience, a key characteristic of effective public speaking.
The next SaaStr event is slated for this summer. In preparation, let’s all take a public speaking refresh and deliver engaging content that keeps a crowd hungry for more.
We plan to return. Are you?