Building a successful software as a service (SaaS) business requires hard work and insight. To help founders and marketers reach their goals, I developed this infographic on ten must-read books for SaaS marketers and founders. I’ve read all of these books (some more than once!), and each one can help you grow your SaaS business.
1) Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A Moore
Published more than 20 years ago, this is a classic book. If you’ve ever struggled with selling innovation, this is the book for you. This book is recommended to guide you through strategic challenges such as launching your market or moving into a new market. Selling new software for the first time without running out of money is hard, so take advantage of Moore’s advice. Some of the technology examples in the book are older, but don’t let that hold you back from getting tremendous value from the book.
2) From Impossible to Inevitable: How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue: 2nd Edition Audible by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
Filled with advice on hiring sales staff, SaaS metrics and more, there is a lot to like in this book. The title is a bit of an exaggeration – nothing is inevitable about success. The discussion on customer success, churn rates and making sales scalable stand out. You can’t rely on the founder for sales or a star sales professional if you are going to achieve your growth ambitions.
3) Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
Aimed at startups, this book gives you an overview of many different marketing channels. In a small SaaS company, getting traction in the marketplace (what some call “product market fit”) is a major problem. Traction is valuable because it walks you through many different marketing options like SEO, sales and more. If you are frustrated by the results that one channel brings you, Traction will give you new ideas on what else you can try.
4) Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler
Are you in the B2B SaaS market? This is the book for you! It is the best sales bible I’ve ever seen in selling enterprise software. The book is based on Ross’s success growing Salesforce.com and Tyler’s long track record of success. The book is famous for popularizing cold email for sales and advocating multiple roles within sales (e.g. business development representative, account executive etc).
5) The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator by Randall Stross
Ever heard of Y Combinator? It is credited with contributing to the success of many companies like Airbnb, Stripe and Dropbox. Paul Graham, a key founder for the organization, is widely known for his excellent essays (Do Things That Don’t Scale is my favorite Graham essay). But, what exactly makes Y Combinator special for ambitious startup? That’s what you will learn from this book. Don’t expect to learn marketing tactics, per se. Instead, this book helps you understand the challenge of creating a technology company from scratch.
6) They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer, Revised & Updated 2nd Edition by Marcus Sheridan
Now, let’s go far from the SaaS industry for the next few book recommendations. Sheridan’s book provides an excellent introduction to content marketing. The book is based on Sheridan’s massive success using content marketing to save his pool company from collapse. Instead of “creating content,” Sheridan recommends answering customer questions in your content.
7) The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allan Dib
Whether you use Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO, or other marketing channels, you’ve used direct response marketing ideas. The problem? You might be using a series of tactics without a guiding principle. The 1 Page Marketing Plan integrates your SaaS marketing tactics and decisions into a single page.
8) No B.S. Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses by Dan S. Kennedy (Read Multiple Times)
While he is famously technology averse, Dan Kennedy’s classic introduction to direct response marketing is a must-read. You will learn the fundamentals of understanding your market and crafting a sales letter. Kennedy doesn’t pull his punches and doesn’t see value in brand advertising. Nearly every successful marketer I know has learned from Dan Kennedy. If you like what you read here, read his “Ultimate Sales Letter” book next.
9) The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System That Has Transformed How We Work by Francesco Cirillo
As a SaaS marketer or product marketer, you have a huge amount of work to do. Working with a marketing consultant like me is one way to lighten the load. However, you still need a way to increase your personal productivity. That’s where the Pomodoro Technique comes in. Discover how to use timers and tracking sheets to boost your productivity. I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique to improve my content creation productivity with excellent results.
Resource: I recommend e.ggtimer.com to help you implement the Pomodoro technique. You can choose any duration of timer you want or accept the default Pomodoro technique timer (i.e., 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break)
10) The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (Read Multiple Times)
If the Pomodoro Technique helps you become productive today, the 12 Week Year gives you a broader view. Instead of struggling to hit your annual goals like $1 million in monthly recurring revenue, focus your efforts on the quarter (i.e. 12 weeks). Along with Marshall’s book below, I’ve read the 12 Week Year multiple times and find it to be incredibly helpful.
11) 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall (Read Multiple Times)
For those who read to the end of this post, I have a bonus recommendation. This book equips you with a mindset and strategic way to think about all marketing decisions. Marshall is best known as one of the world’s foremost experts on Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords). He adapted “The 80/20 Principle” and applied it to marketing. If it you’re tired of working all the time on marketing, you need this book.
Where To Go From Here…
Pick a book from this list, order it, and look forward to learning more about business, productivity, and marketing.