Three Keys to SaaS Success

Posted in bigWebApps, Business Building, Technology by jasonrmoore on March 23, 2009

selfhelpI am very fortunate to be in a community that has a great entrepreneurial spirit. Being in this community, I get to hear a lot of ideas for projects that people want to turn into businesses.

Outside of the standard requirements for any business to succeed such as revenue model, marketing and acquisition costs, and so on; you also have three key areas where the relationship between your potential clients and your application must work together seamlessly.

As has been pointed out countless times on SaaS model success, the real key is scalability.  The following three attributes of your application will have huge impact on whether scalability is something you will be able to achieve.

1. Self Setup – Self Setup is the most important “feature” that your application will need to scale your business. Once you have targeted beta clients, immediately start working with them to design how they will be able to get running on your application without you. The self setup should start immediately after someone clicks the “Free Trial” or “30 Day Demo” button on your website.

One of the major differences between SaaS and traditional software is that setup process begins prior to your sales process does.

2. Self Signup – As you are getting launched, sales/signups are not as critical to be automated as setup is. If you are manually having conversations with people through the sales process in the beginning, you will learn what the roadblocks are to purchasing your product. The knowledge that you gain throughout this process will be invaluable to writing effective copy and to designing your site’s sales flow to best suit your potential customer’s needs.

This is closely related to self setup because your potential customer’s experience during that trial period will be the first impression that he remembers when making the decision whether to type in their credit card number.

Self signup is the actual transition between trial and paid. If you plan on launching with a freemium model, this transition period will be laced into your application when your customers hit feature/size roadblocks. Offering them compelling reasons to upgrade, and more importantly, an easy way to act upon that decision could decide your success. Once again, automation on this is not a requirement to get started if you are looking for the specific reasons why people are not buying.  But implementing this should be early in your timeline.

3. Self Help – Prior to launching your product to beta and then full production, it is critical to have dead-nuts simple avenues for your customers to reach you.   But you do not need to be in self-help mode just yet. This is primarily due to the fact that you won’t know what problems/questions your varied customers are going to have until they have them.

It is absolutely critical to have the record button pushed at all times. When it comes time to start writing the self-help material for your application, you will be able to quickly reference your real world feedback ensuring the help material is focused on problems that real people have instead of on problems that you “think” they might have.

photo credit: purplepigswithfigs

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