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The Apex Predator's Guide to SaaStr Annual 2016

· Apex Predator · 8 Minute Read

Our favorite guest blogger, the Apex Predator, returns to help prep SaaStr Annual 2016 attendees for the conference of their lives.

Hello again, dear readers.

Last week, I brought you my first sales mailbag. And this week, I'm feeling extra generous, so I'm unleashing another post that's going to blow your world away and leave you begging for more.

Next week, many SaaS professionals I know will be embarking on a little field trip to San Fransisco, where they'll take part in the, hold up, let me double check this marketing email: 

Subject Line: LARGEST INDUSTRY CONFERENCE IN HISTORY (BESIDES SFDC).

SaaStr Annual 2016

Big time shouts out to Jason Lemkin. The guy putting on this whole event. A fountain of SaaS knowledge.  

Every year, you can count on Mr. Lemkin doing one thing very well at SaaStr: Shoving Zenefits, Gainsight, SalesLoft and other portfolio companies down attendees' throats.

It's a thing of beauty. This year, I correctly predicted four companies that would be leading Breakout Sessions. I feel like Punxatawney Phil predicting the weather forecast, except with dead certainty. 

Another spoiler alert for this year's conference attendees:

You'll "learn" how to get "from impossible to inevitable" by watching the leadership of at least half-a-dozen Lemkin-backed companies sit on stage and tell you their amazing company stories

And you'll leave each Breakout Session muttering to yourself, yup, still impossible.  

But in all seriousness, I'm just giving Lemkin and co. a hard time. This is going to be a great conference. So today, I'm presenting you three stellar guides -- along with my own guide -- to the 2016 SaaStr Annual Conference. 

First, read these three guides:

  1. First Timer's Guide to the SaaStr Annual
  2. 5 Awesome Things to Do at the SaaStr Annual
  3. 8 Easy Reasons Why All Tech Salespeople Should Be at the SaaStr Annual 2016

Once you've checked those out, arm yourselves with knowledge from my own Guide to the conference, as set forth below. 

The Apex Predator's Guide to SaaStr 2016

There are four essential things everyone must do at the SaaStr Annual.

To get full enjoyment out of the conference, I advise adhering to each of the following guidelines and checking out the Apex-recommended Breakout Sessions.

1) Relentlessly mock the event tagline.

A great thing I love about SaaS -- no one in our industry has ever heard of the term, self-parody.

Which is why last year's SaaStr tagline was "Escape Velocity" and this year's tagline is "From Impossible to Inevitable."

The SaaS industry - where our biggest annual conference wants you to think you're in a critically-panned action flick starring Clive Owen.

SaaStr Annual 2016

Pictured: "The Last Iteration." SaaStr Annual 2017 or Clive Owen's next flop?

Now, my second honest-to-god pick for must-see Breakout Session.

Apex Recommends: "Benchmarking Your Startup" with Tomasz Tunguz and Connie Loizos

2) Get some sweet booth action.

Your company has ponied up thousands and thousands of dollars from its last fundraising round. 

Put those rapidly-depleting funds to good use and network like a goddamned banshee with anyone and everyone.

SaaStr Annual

Pictured: Your 2016 SaaStr Annual Spirit Guide.

Now to some of you, this may sound obvious. And I can empathize. That said, I can also vividly remember walking around last year's conference and seeing attendees practically clinging to their booths.  

Do not be intimidated. Remember: Everyone at this conference has made a living by sounding at least twice as smart as they actually are.

If you're scared of getting big-timed by some big shot Venture Capitalist, Founder or a random guy whose been quoted in TechCrunch, you don't need to be there.

You're also soft as a muffin. Here's my second must-see Breakout Session.

Apex Recommends: "Building Sales Teams: How, When and Who?"

3) Stay up late and get up early.

True story: I once had a relatively new hire go to Dreamforce with me and 5-6 other members of my sales team.

The first night, we hit the Happy Hour pretty hard, the new hire especially.

And guess what, at 11:15 the next morning, my new hire was nowhere to be found and completely unresponsive to calls and texts.

SaaStr Annual

Pictured: Zero Regrets.

Sure enough, I stormed up to his room and found him in bed asleep. I proceeded to fire him on the spot, like the dog he was. 

There are two kinds of people who attend these events: salty old pros and worthless amateurs. Be salty, goddammit.

Moral of the story: Feel free to late night with the faux-Beastie Boy all you want (if there's ever a time you'll need a drink, it's after 12 straight hours of SaaS talk), but be up and at 'em the next morning.

Here's my third must-see Breakout Session.

Apex Recommends: "Big-Arse Companies: Why They Buy from Startups."

4) Be thankful you're not at Dreamforce.

Seriously, be thankful.

Compared to the breeding ground of shameless, garish self-promotion and empty "thought leadership" that is Dreamforce, the SaaStr Annual is like spending 3 days at a military academy.

Dreamforce is a ridiculous, tragically wasteful marketing spectacle. Last year, SaaStr was better by every conceivable metric. Better organized. (Much) Better speakers. Infinitely less obnoxious.

For all the SaaStr-bashing I've done in this post, it was still a great conference - the best one I attended in 2015.  If the 2016 conference comes anywhere close to last year, we're in for a treat.

All the Breakout Sessions will be useful. Every SaaS leader on stage (yes, including those backed by Lemkin) are brilliant, visionary people who deserve to be there and will provide a few genuinely helpful. 

The list of VC speakers is spectacular. Lemkin is an engaging host whose created the rare type of conference predicated on delivering substantive insight. 

Much like this year's unfathomable, utterly absurd hype video (you went through the looking glass, Gainsight), as much as I want to hate on SaaStr, I can't help but enjoy it.

You will, too, especially if you bring home the money.

My final must-see Breakout Session is below.

Apex Recommends: "How to Really Do Outbound Sales" 

Meet the Apex Predator at SaaStr

You very well may. I'll be there, but if you expect to see a guide with a placard around his neck reading, "Apex Predator," don't get your hopes up. I prefer to stay anonymous. 

Ambition CSO Jared Houghton and COO Brian Trautschold, on the other hand, do not prefer anonymity. They'll both be there at their Sponsor booth, so stop by and say hello.

Best of luck at this year's SaaStr Annual, dear readers. I'll see you next time here on the Ambition Blog.

Read More from the Apex Predator

The Apex Predator writes regularly for Ambition. He has a contractual obligation to recommend scheduling a demo to see Ambition's sales management platform. Read his previous articles below.

  1. Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  2. More Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  3. Sales Rescue with the Apex Predator
  4. The Return of the Apex Predator
  5. The Apex Predator's 5 Essential Sales Articles
  6. Sales Mailbag with the Apex Predator
  7. 15 Real Songs to Pump Up Your Sales Reps
  8. Why You're Losing the War for Talent
  9. The 50 Worst Things Happening in Sales Right Now
  10. The Apex Predator Explains the Laws of Power‚Äč

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