#218 - Firaas Rashid, CEO of Hook - on building defensible differentiation

Lessons from building a SaaS product with transformative power

This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to help customer success teams cut churn, boost revenue and grow faster. My guest is Firaas Rashid, Founder, and CEO of Hook.

Firaas RashidFiraas is a tech entrepreneur on a mission, and one of his passions is Customer Success. He was CTO and Head of Customer Success (EMEA) at AppDynamics and helped it scale from $170m to $550m Annual Recurring Revenue in 2 years. Prior to that, he was a Director of IT at Credit Suisse.

Today Firaas is the CEO of Hook to realize his mission to change the way Customer Success is run. Hook essentially empowers Customer Success teams with accurate revenue predictions and intelligent, actionable insights to secure renewals. It takes the guesswork out of their day-to-day – and helps them focus on spending their time where it matters.

And this inspired me, and hence I invited Firaas to my podcast. We explore what’s broken in the world of customer success. Firaas shares his experience around what it takes to answer the question “What makes customers renew, and what makes them churn?” He shares his journey of building a SaaS business that changes the way Customer Services is run and creates impact. In this conversation, he explains the counterintuitive lessons he learned and how that helped him create defensible differentiation from the start.  

Here is one of his quotes:

People tend to focus on their loudest customers. I actually think the biggest problem is, the quiet customers, when you’re running a SaaS business are the ones that are going to leave. 

And the hard thing is, without looking at the data, you don’t know who your quiet customers are because they’re quiet. 

When I was at AppDynamics, over the course of the couple of years that I was there, we started with very simple metrics. What we were able to find was that in none of those metrics that we looked at did sentiment make a positive or negative difference to whether or not someone renewed. Yet what we saw was that with engagement, there was a direct correlation in every number. If that number went down, the customer churned, if the number went up, they spent more money. 

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. Why do so many SaaS products suffer from the value gap – i.e. what the customer paid for on day zero, is far away from what they’re getting.
  2. What you can do differently in your product to minimize churn and increase net revenue retention
  3. Why do you have to slow down the sales process in order to speed it up
  4. The big lessons learned to create messaging that’s humanly instantly understandable

For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.