How do you start a SaaS solution for your business?
We all know what SaaS is. But do we ask, “Why SaaS?”
Doing SaaS is essential, but your model must have a competitive advantage; otherwise, why do it. Why not just software? The only difference between the two is one is delivered over networks on the internet, and the other is not. So, your competitive advantage must be derived from this difference. Simple.
Staying with the why, it must lower costs from automation of labour-intensive services and offer easy, user-friendly customer interaction.
The competitive advantage comes from uniquely leveraging the customer-vender connection to build business processes and service delivery. But to get the economics of scale, you need to be able to build out your customer base with each new customer, which will proportionally reduce the cost; otherwise, why do it.
Having gone through all the detail that this thinking involves, be clear on why you will have a competitive advantage – keep that in the forefront of your creation.
So, let’s talk about building.
We all remember the old phrase that we can not manage what you cannot measure – measuring and monitoring SaaS with key performance indicators is essential. Setting your goals is the start of your investment planning.
Set short and long-term goals as this will lead you to your ultimate goal and allow you to make new decisions as the milestones come and pass. With each milestone comes a more precise vision that motivates you to keep moving forward. It may appear like an overwhelming task as there are so many variables. So, where do you actually start?
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and Minimal viable product (MVP).
I recommend starting with KPI, which is how effectively you reach performance objectives and your timeline. This, in my book, is the ultimate guide.
Firstly, build a minimal viable product (MVP) which is an early version of your product with the minimum of features needed to be a viable product that could be sold to customers. This should be part of your overall intention and planning. We will return to this aspect because you need knowledge about your target market before your engineers start. This is because you don’t want to build the most outstanding product on earth and discover it solves a pain that no one cares about.
Why would that happen? Probably the reason is you made too many assumptions.
One would be you assumed it would solve a problem, which it does, but nobody is prepared to pay for your solution. Or you thought yours was better than your opposition. Do not assume; check, do your research, and then create an MVP.
Your Target Market.
You need to find your niche target audience – if your service is for everyone, you will likely fail. Select a niche market and know what their frictions are. Then segment them using various factors like needs, industry, budgets, problems or whatever is relevant in your industry.
Discover who your audience is and who the buyers are in that audience. Where do they hang out? What do they search for on Google? Which keywords do they type into their search?
Typically, how would they describe the type of service you offer. Is it a technical industry term or a more generic word? Are they looking for specific features or just price?
What pain is your niche audience looking to solve? Does your value proposition hit the nail on the head and solve their challenges?
Knowing as much of this information will assist you in how to pitch to them to move them into the sales funnel. There are numerous ways to gather the information you need. For customer focus groups that fit your buyer persona, asking them questions is one way. Interviews at shows or on social media are another option. Surveys through services like SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang will help with your research.
Create a B2B Brand Story.
Every company owner knows they need to create a brand, but it is difficult to know where and how to start.
Start with what you know, what unique value you offer, who is currently buying it, and how your market relates to your service and product. You will gather this information directly from your customers and employees who deal with customers. All have their own perspectives.
Your brand will simply reflect this information, and your brand story will start emerging with a bit of creative imagination. Your narrative will include changes in the market, making your story relevant and progressive and even what is happening to your opposition companies who are not changing.
Add your vision and how you intend to reach it. What personality are you creating and why? What are your tag lines that will be part of the brand story?
Build the brand story through touchpoints – every customer interaction and feeling is in your brand. How your customers are feeling is your brand story – build it.
Why not create programs where potential customers can get involved, like optimized YouTube videos, podcasts, eBooks, blogs and snippet videos on social media – all using the same content – the same brand story.
These activities build on each other as the months come and go, provide an educational component, value to your sales funnel, and make your brand story. All activities are interconnected; the value compounds, and the relationships deepen with the brand.
Having assured yourself there is an expanding market, start to create your product in small incremental steps, testing your researched assumptions as you go. By working with this validated learning process, you will create a feature, try it, and get feedback.
Minimal viable product (MVP).
We are back to this critical part of the starting of B2B SaaS creation. I honestly believe this is the starting point in creating the SaaS product. Why?
MVP offers a rapid product launch as it only offers the core functionality taking less time to build and launch. It also allows the ideal validation by seeing if it does solve the customer’s pains and fits the market. The budget is also kept to a minimum until after the validation and customer support.
Starting an MVP is a perfect way to test your product and clearly understand the user’s needs – quickly and within a user-friendly budget.
Demos are a big deal in the B2B SaaS business. Seeing the product in action goes a long way in the purchase decision.
Do not give product demos at any random time – only when the lead is qualified. This will reward you by making a large potential number of potential customers, customers.
The reason is that it allows you to explain the product features you can customize for individual needs. It also allows for personal interaction, questions and answers because you have done your homework on their company.
Empathizing with your customers delivers excellent trust and rapport and improves the average closing rate between 30% and 50 %. You are able to show value to your prospect by focusing on their pain. More importantly, talk about case studies or success stories – show them how others in their niche have succeeded with your solution.
The demo in a B2B SaaS company is a deciding factor.
Marketing methods – Get the leads to find you
1. Critical to B2B SaaS marketing is keyword-focused CONTENT. Optimized videos on YouTube are number one, followed by short videos on social media, eBooks, blogs on your website and LinkedIn.
2. Consider social media that fits your brand, but LinkedIn is where the action lies. It is full of professionals who search this platform for what they need to solve their challenges. You need to be there using a sophisticated strategy. But do not leave out other social media.
3. Currently, all serious marketing strategists use analytics like Google Analytics Funnel Visualization and vidIQ. With this information, you can strategize your way forward with facts.
4. Invite your audience to your online community, where you can network, share issues, ask questions, and tell success stories. Whether on LinkedIn, Facebook or others, it’s a great way to get to know your customers.
B2B SaaS has introduced a flood of new techniques and scrambled the playing field, but the above four points bring it all together in essential activities and behaviours that just work.
Conclusion – Gather feedback
Before launching your product, ensure you have a feedback mechanism ready for the post-launch phase. Customers can identify bugs and UX issues and provide valuable suggestions for improvement.
Then finally, you may want to find a good, trusted CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and incentivize (with equity) this person to build a development roadmap and oversee developers. In some cases, the initial MVP product could be created by this person, too, depending on the size and scope of the project.
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