3 ways to impress a Salesforce Ventures VC

If you ever end up pitching to one of the London’s top SaaS VCs, Alex Kayyal. Here’s how to get him to sit up and take notice.

Last month we staged our 4th Sales Confidence live event at the Salesforce Tower in London. 100 SaaS devotees gathered to hear 4 of London’s most knowledgeable founders and sales leaders share their secrets. If you couldn’t make it, we’re producing a series of articles covering all the talks, so you can still share in the knowledge.

Our first speaker was Alex Kayyal. Alex is the European Head of Salesforce Ventures, the VC arm of the CRM giant, Salesforce. Salesforce Ventures have invested in over 200 companies and are the 3rd most active VC globally. During his talk, Alex told us 3 things that are important to bear in mind when you’re pitching to him, or VCs like him.

1 – Know why you’re there

In Alex’s native USA, all men are created equal, but that maxim doesn’t hold in the VC world. ‘All investors are not created equal.’

Different investors help startups in different ways. Some are financial only, while others provide strategic direction as part of their investment. When you’re pitching to a VC, know what kind of VC you’re pitching to, and make sure you actually want the kind of investment they provide.

‘The best companies have a lot of choice when it comes to raising capital. They can be selective about who they choose. ‘

‘Think about how long it takes from starting a company to when they sell. It’s typically around 7 to 10 years. Think about who you want to invite on that 7-10 year journey. You’re inviting someone into your living room, to share your space. What kind of investor can help you succeed?’

Taking VC money is a big commitment on both sides. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

2 – Think about integration

Here’s a more practical tip from Alex. Think about how your SaaS product plays along with others. It’s all about integration.

‘From my experience backing companies in the US and Europe, companies that start up in the US tend to think about integration into the wider ecosystem sooner.’

Alex went on to mention companies, such as Autopilot and Mailchimp, which do a good job of integrating with other SaaS products. This is seen as a selling point, why people love their products and why investors back them.

‘You can’t just exist in your own silo. You have to take advantage of the growth in the SaaS ecosystem before you’ll see growth. Don’t make your customers choose between you and someone else, when it can actually be you PLUS someone else.’

3 – Know your metrics

When Alex is considering whether to invest in a company, ideas are one thing, but evidence is another. When you can show your success in a tangible way, you have the upper hand. The way to do this is to build your data from day 1.

‘We care a lot about metrics. The more you can track, the better. Think how your company is run. It’s not just about using Salesforce to track everything, go beyond that. Think about your financials, churn, deal size etc. The more granular, the better.’

‘Often we see companies waiting too long to think about that. Don’t build a parachute while the plane is in flight.’

Here are the 3 metrics Alex identifies as most important. Start tracking these as soon as possible:

  • Growth
  • Retention
  • Customer satisfaction

Pitching to a VC is a daunting prospect. It’s one of those situations where you have one shot, one opportunity that can make or break your startup. I hope Alex’s 3 tips help you out if you’re ever in that situation.

We were thrilled to have Alex come and talk at Sales Confidence. We’ve had some of London’s most influential sales leaders talk to us, but it was really interesting to hear a VC’s perspective on the SaaS business.

Over to you now. Have you ever pitched for investment from a VC? Are there any tips you would like to share with the Sales Confidence community? Let us know in the comments below.

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