How to 'kick some SaaS': Expert Stewart Marshall's insider tips
What does it take to grow your SaaS product in today's fiercely competitive global marketplace? In our latest episode of AZK Meets, AZK Media's Managing Director Azadeh Williams interviews best-selling author of “Kick Some SaaS” and prominent SaaS (software as a service) adviser Stewart Marshall.
In the candid conversation, Marshall shares valuable insights into his experiences working at the executive level in tech companies like WiseTech Global. From profound lessons about scaling, staying competitive and the power of storytelling in today's market, it’s an interview that every entrepreneur, tech enthusiast and business leader won’t want to miss.
The challenge of scaling your SaaS product
One of the key takeaways from Marshall's executive roles in tech giants is the immense challenge inherent in scaling a business. “My time at these tech companies has confirmed a couple of things I’ve long thought. The first is that scale is a really difficult problem to solve,” he shares.
Marshall says that while it’s easy to find employees, scaling becomes much more challenging when it comes to organising, training and upskilling them. “We can go out and get as many hands on keyboards as we like — and WiseTech is particularly adept at it. But you have to organise them, you have to teach them, you have to train, educate and upskill them,” he explains.
“And many of the people that are coming into the industry now are very young. You're looking at development teams that have perhaps 50 per cent with less than four or five years experience. So that's a big problem that a lot of enterprise businesses face.”
Work towards a common goal
Marshall's second lesson from his time in the tech world underscores the importance of focus. “The next understanding is the notion of focus. If you're building a SaaS business, you need a ‘Northstar’, which is basically a target to aim for. And everybody should be heading towards that,” he stresses.
“WiseTech is absolutely on the money with this concept. It’s really important to have everybody working towards a common goal.”
Differentiation through storytelling
In today's tech landscape, where competition is fierce and products often share similar features, Marshall says that companies must abandon traditional methods of differentiation. “You have to get rid of the ways of the past. There are many in leadership positions that come from the turn of the millennia when there were fewer competitors. They would tout features and benefits and find it easier to differentiate among their two or three major competitors,” he shares.
“In the modern market, you now have up to 20 big competitors. If you’re only talking about your features, then it’s pointless because everyone has the same ones. So you need a better story when you talk about value and differentiation. Share what makes you different as an organisation rather than making the story all about the product you sell.”
According to Marshall, storytelling is the linchpin of success in today's tech world. “It’s absolutely everything today,” he confirms. “If you’re not in the business of telling a story about yourself and engaging at a community level, using language that normal humans understand and can identify with, then you’re just falling into a hole of being just like everyone else.”
'Kick Some SaaS': A new perspective
Marshall's latest book, 'Kick Some SaaS’, is a transformative resource in the tech and SaaS leadership domain. It started out as a compilation of Marshall’s experience and transformed into something much more.
“‘Kick Some SaaS’ is the software leader’s guide to creating global impact. It’s a story about my change in the last five years, going from a backroom boy in R&D to finding social purpose and thinking about the fantastic opportunity we have,” he shares.
“The scale and reach that SaaS offers allows us to take a business and embed social purpose into it. That’s very much a ‘North Star’ idea where you can have an entire business, not only making software but actually solving world problems.”
Authored by Julie Cooper, Senior Content and Communications Specialist at AZK Media.
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