Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How to transform SaaS development into Customer Success machine?

As any other machine, Customer Success machine needs three concepts: Dashboard, engine and fuel. Dashboard is created with a strategy. Engine is built around software development and customer service processes. Fuel is of course your customers. Take one of these ingredients off and the machine gets into trouble.

As described in earlier blog post ‘How to create Customer Success strategy’, Value Concept is very useful way to define the hotspots of your Customer Success. They are the points in customer’s journey, where significant value is created. With Value Concepts your machine’s engine has a mission: To make these hotspots better, thus serving customers better over the time. This can happen if everyone in your team is aware of Value Concepts.

Pick up Scrum, Agile or any other development methodology, software development is built around issue tracking. Therefore that’s a good place to share information about Value Concepts as well without reinventing the wheel. As soon as your team understands what are the Value Concepts, how they relate to everything that you are developing, it’s time to add them as labels into your issue tracking. Same goes to backlog as well as bug tracking.

Every time when you are thinking about priorities with your team, you can check which tickets relate to Value Concepts and how important they are to your customers. Discussion gets much easier and focuses on right topics, instead of making every feature request a pain to talk about ‘tiny features’ vs. ‘significant improvement’.

This affects how you serve customers. If customer has an issue related to core Value Concept, it naturally gets the priority without having a long discussion with developers why and why not. But wait - how does this differ from regular backlog prioritisation? Two ways: 1) It’s connected to core value propositions of your business strategy and 2) Everyone in your team must have an understanding about these concepts.

Customer Success is of course much more than just software development. If you for example run social media campaigns, or serve customers with consultative meetings, Value Concepts can follow through all these actions as well. In optimal case Value Concept turns into any kind of business development tasks, adding one more layer to the objective hierarchy.

For Value Concepts that do not exist inside your product you can provide for example recommended integrations, consultation, outsourced manual labor or any other services or guidelines.

To learn more how to define strategy based on Customer Success and how to drive it into implementation, please take a look at Growhow - an agile customer success framework by SignupLab.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to create Customer Success strategy for a SaaS product?

The question itself includes a pitfall, because it’s a bit same as asking ‘how to raise children’. Customer Success is a wide concept. It’s actually so wide that it’s not really a concept at all - it’s more a mindset than a single method or set of processes. Yet it has to be managed somehow.

It’s also a bit similar question as few years ago was ‘how to create a social media strategy’. Nowadays we simply call it a marketing strategy, because social media is already a natural part of everyday business. Same should apply to Customer Success strategy: It’s natural part of your product strategy - not an isolated function or concept.

If isolation is one pitfall, scope is another. Especially in software business, Customer Success is often scoped around product itself. This refers to customers’ actions that are directly related to product’s features or customer service. But Customer Success is definitely much more.

By definition Customer Success can happen when customer achieves a desired goal. But these goals can be achieved in many different ways - not only within your product. Often it’s a combination of different products, services and manual work. Customer has a possibility not only to change the vendor, but also to change the way of achieving the goal. This makes strategical planning difficult and customers unpredictable.

To make things easier, we can use so called Value Concepts from Growhow Customer Success Framework to identify the hotspots. They are the points in your customer’s journey where significant value is created, regardless was it produced by your software’s features or something else.

Value Concept can be a service, process or feature which is mandatory part of using your product. A strategical management tool “objective hierarchy” is very useful when defining Value Concepts. The main objectives are customer’s goals - such as ‘Tasks must be completed before deadline’. When goals are defined, you can define value propositions related to these goals - such as ‘Customer achieves deadlines faster’. Each value proposition in turn can be transformed into Value Concepts - such as ‘Task Scoping’ and ’Task Tracking’.

It’s a thin red line when the list of Value Concepts turns into Development Roadmap, so be careful not to get too far into details. Only high level concepts and points in customer’s journey need to be added to your strategy as initiatives.

When Value Concepts are defined, it’s easier to connect the dots in product strategy overall, including for example pricing and marketing strategy. In optimal case these Value Concepts can be traced all the way to your product backlog and customer support issues. This keeps your whole team aware what are the hot spots and crucial for Customer Success. Just remember that the list of strategical Value Concepts will evolve based on feedback from customers as well as feedback from development team.

To learn more how to define strategy based on Customer Success and how to drive it into implementation, please take a look at Growhow - an agile customer success framework by SignupLab.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Do-it-yourself integrations with Zapier - 360 degrees of SaaS sales

Since we connected SignupLab with Zapier our team has been very happily innovating new integrations. Before Zapier all integrations meant a big development cycle from idea to implementation, but now it's just a matter of idea.
Zapier is a lightweight integration tool that allows you to automate workflows between apps. All you have to do is pick up two of your favorite apps, select the operation between them and choose which data fields are included. And you don't have to be a tech guy to do this.
Downturn is that the list of available apps in Zapier is still quite humble and the interfaces that have been opened so far are often the most simple ones. But in very short time we already found many useful ways to automate small workflows with SignupLab:
  • Push notifications of new tickets from Groove helpdesk to SignupLab (client's email address works as an identifier)
  • Keep the customer contacts in Insigthly and SignupLab synchronized
  • Trigger automatically assigned tasks from SignupLab to Slack
  • Inform SignupLab about new customer conversations in Intercom
These are just some of initial ideas that we tested after SignupLab was added to Zapier.
From SignupLab users' perspective this means endless possibilities. It's fairly easy to build a real-time overview from sign-ups to user conversions and recurring sales, including key data from customer conversations, user tracking, help desk communications, invoicing among many other key areas of SaaS. Simply: A true 360 degree view for SaaS salespeople.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How to get SaaS sales emails delivered?

SaaS apps start sending emails as soon as user enters to the signup process. Typically the first email is a verification which checks that user really owns the given email address. Sales letters start following soon after.
Sounds simple, but what happens on servers is actually quite complex. In fact, it's so complex that millions of emails get lost every day. Some of them are bounced back by servers' spam filters while others are quietly filtered within users' email clients.
This is a problem that any SaaS company must take seriously. Especially if the signup process relies on email verification.
  • Make sure that your SaaS app uses a proper email delivery platform instead of self-configured SMTP server
  • Verify your domain with DNS configuration as instructed by your selected email delivery platform
  • Make sure that the emails are not too spammy
Well, this is actually where SignupLab can make your life much easier. It allows you to choose which email platform to use. It also guides you to configure all sales emails with automated triggers based on your users' actions. All you need is couple of code "snippets" within your app and your sales processes are ready to be executed, analyzed and optimised!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How to automate, track and optimize SaaS user onboarding

This is a step-by-step introduction how to create an automated user onboarding overview inSignupLab - a sales tool for SaaS companies. When properly implemented, it can look for example like this:

This view has the following key elements:
  • User tracking with geolocation. User's activity levels are exposed with different colors on calendar.
  • Sign-up process steps: "Signed up", "Evaluating" and "Active". When these steps are completed, user can be converted to a customer (or trial ends to churn).
  • Automated tasks and emails: In this example the task "Lead analysis" is assigned to a sales manager. Also sales emails sent to user can be automated with SignupLab, if not preferred to integrate with other tools such as MailChimp.
  • Activity feed (contains mostly notifications from Sales-bot - SignupLab's own sales automation robot) exposes a help desk ticket opened on Zendesk. Sales manager Brian Johansson made an internal comment to it.
So, this is how the view is generated:

1) User tracking

To start tracking your users you need to add a JavaScript code snippet into your app (just ask from your developers, they know ;). The key in this integration is to define action descriptions so that you can follow in details what steps users have been taking inside your app. Every time when user takes a step or loads a page, action is logged to SignupLab for analysis. You can find the code snippet and forward it to your developers as soon as you sign up to SignupLab:

Our code fetches automatically some information from user's browser, including current location. Geolocation is based on user's IP address.

2) Sign-up process steps

These steps help sales to analyze how far the sign-up has been progressing. It's part of your sales funnel; after sign-up, before converting to a customer. Steps can be defined under setup:

Note that these steps have API IDs. This means that you can set triggers with the tracking code snippet, which was explained earlier. Simply add one more parameter to code snippet when user takes a step "Evaluating" or "Active" (find out more from Setup / API reference; parameter "signup-status" in "action" method). If needed you can always change the step manually as well - for example if you called to the user and want to define him as "Active" after having a conversation - everything in SignupLab is editable just like in a regular sales CRM app.

3) Automation rules

Onboarding process has three different perspectives: 1) User's steps inside your app, 2) Onboarding emails sent to your user and 3) Sales activities that are not directly visible to your user, such as lead analysis. In successful SaaS companies these actions are smoothly connected to each other as a one seamless process.
What happens inside your app is typically managed with your application's own logic and tools such as Intercom.io. For onboarding sales letters and sales team's activities you can set automated rules with SignupLab (under Signups main view):

You may create different rules for A/B testing based on user's selections or actions during sign-up process. SignupLab matches the rule with simple filtering:
User's activity rule can be changed later to another based on user's behavior - for example if user is "Activated" and you want to provide him more detailed information about your app's features. If you want to learn more, SignupLab's behavior based emailing is covered in the blog post Behavior based SaaS onboarding emails - a step-by-step guide.

4) Combine data from other apps, such as Zendesk

Connections to other apps are easy to create with Zapier. In SignupLab select Setup, Integrations and Zapier. There you can find the link to SignupLab Zapier app. After you have added SignupLab to your Zapier apps, you can use it like this:

In this example a note can be added under user's profile by using the email address as an identifier. You may also use other actions as you wish - all methods in SignupLab API are made available in Zapier.
That's it! Automated sales elements of your onboarding process are now defined. Now it's your time to start learning and optimizing. Test with different email templates, share users' activity information with your developers and discuss how to convert these sign-ups more effectively into customers. Follow the conversion rates from SaaS metrics reports inside SignupLab. Invite your colleagues to collaborate on SignupLab!
If you don't have a SignupLab account yet, create one today - we provide a free plan to get started with. SignupLab provides also tools for subscription management and recurring sales reporting, but that's another story!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Behavior based SaaS onboarding emails - a step-by-step guide

SaaS businesses reach their users via emails. The better the emails are targeted, the better user conversions can be reached. This is fairly simple, yet quite complex when thinking how many different rules and how much content must be created for the best onboarding processes.
The smartest companies target their onboarding emails based on users' behavior. This blog post describes how to create such a process with SignupLab. Sign up to SignupLab if you don't have an account yet - it's free. SignupLab provides simple tools for managing your SaaS sales and sign-ups:

1) Create onboarding process steps with sign-up statuses

Sign-up statuses (under Setup / Customize) define how the sign-ups are flowing as a process. Default sign-up process can be fairly straightforward:

You can vary these steps to make them more suitable for your app’s needs. Process always starts as "Signed up" and ends when user converted to a customer or the trial period expired.

2) Create email templates

Email templates (under Signups / Email Templates) define the content of the sales letters that you are going to send. Create one or two emails first, for example a simple welcome message, and return to this step when you understand more how these email templates are later used.

Notice that you can define dynamic content with the data fields. For example [FIRST-NAME] will be replaced with users first name when email is sent.

3) Define activity rules

This is where the magic happens. Activity rule is a template for a group of emails or tasks, which can be applied to the sign-ups. User can be applied to different activity rules during trial period, based on behavior.

A simple set of activity rules might look like this:

In the best case a user is first applied to basic rule, but soon after trial started he is updated to “Evaluator”. This triggers more focused emails about the product’s features. Finally user is updated to “Active”, meaning that in-depth explanations as well as meeting request are sent.
Keep in mind when creating activity rules:
  • Always add a "source" for the sign-up's matching rule. Source can be for example "webapp" (use your imagination ;) and is defined when sign-up is logged to SignupLab. This way you can easily avoid sending emails by mistake to wrong users (if you for example manually add users or import from your existing user database).
  • For activity rules that are applied later during the sign-up process give at least few hours timer with the trigger - otherwise user might receive your emails within too short period of time (for example if user converts to "Evaluator" already few minutes after first welcome email was sent).

4) Start logging the sign-ups and statuses

Now that you have a rule engine ready, all you need to do is trigger the rules with incoming sign-ups. You can choose from many available integrations:

- A simple web form for sign-up (“Web-to-Signup”)
- JavaScript snippet inside your app
- HTTP call from inside your app
- Create a “Zap” with Zapier
Each one of these integrations makes requests to SignupLab API. That's why you should be aware of two different methods: “signup” and “action”. With the latter you can change user's status based on your app's logic: For example user might become "Evaluator" of the project management software after creating a new project and "Active" after calling other team members to collaborate.
To learn how to get started with API methods, simply sign up to SignupLab and browse the integrations manual. Make couple of tests with "curl" and see yourself how the triggers are working:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

3 powerful steps to reduce churn

During 10 years in SaaS business, I’ve found my favorite three step approach to reduce churn. It goes like this:
1) Analyze: Identify the reason for churn
Churn has always a reason. Your SaaS product has already struggled a long way to the market, so there must be enough value in it. What is left is the big question: Why some of your customers leave you? The answer is often surprisingly simple, but comes out only if you change the perspective to your current thinking. For example; the reason might not be in the missing features, but how your users understand the current features. Unfortunately there is no quick magic into this step. Just open your eyes. Once you know what is the real reason for churn, you will also get closer to the customer’s process. That’s why this first step is mandatory before entering to the next one.

2) Develop: Become tighter part of your customer’s process
If your app is not important part of your customer’s process, it’s too easy to forget. For example when I was starting a social collaboration startup (nowadays a growing 100.000$ SaaS business), we carefully gave a thought what could be the identified process where this kind of social collaboration is mostly needed. In this case it was innovation development. Once our product became everyday part of our customers’ innovation workflow, they couldn’t just turn their back on us. We were also able to find new customers easier. The best part is that once you become part of the process, you also start understanding your customers better.

3) Optimize: Know what customers are doing inside your app
This step takes you to a never-ending loop: Optimizing. By knowing your customer I don’t mean asking or even calling to your customers - we are all just people, and people tend to be a bit too polite to say things straight! Your customers might also have a lot of ideas about a perfect dreamland, but in reality they don’t even need the solution what they are asking for.Become a spy instead of perfect customer support. Of course talking with your users is important, but even more important is that you have an overview to the real user log - what features are truly used, how often, how many of your customer’s users are using the feature, from where and with what platforms are they connecting to your app. The devils is in the details!

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to generate 500 signups per month for B2B SaaS startup

Signup hunting. That's what we all do to make our SaaS businesses grow. Awesome landing pages and relevant content matters a lot, but according to my experience choosing the right marketing channels has even more significant affect. This is what I have found useful to make B2B SaaS startups grow:
One-to-one email cold contacting: 250 signups per month
Recently I wrote about how we collect and generate lead lists from the contacts found from varied sources, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and blog discussions:
Instead of spamming, this is one-to-one emailing - you send the emails from your own email address and target them carefully to the right audience. More emails you send, more visitors you get. But to get the signups you must have two things fixed: Right audience + relevant content. When the combination of these two matches, you are on the winning side. Otherwise you are just spamming.
With my earlier SaaS startups I've seen up to 300 signups per month after sending few thousand emails. With SignupLab my audience is now much more narrowed, but the conversions are even better as the content and target audience matches perfectly.
LinkedIn InMail: 20 signups per month
Okay, this one costs money and brings only few signups. But the benefit is that if your message doesn't reach the person, you get your InMail quota credited back (otherwise reaching 20 signups per month would be impossible). It's pretty much similar kind of one-to-one contacting as an email, but it can be even more personal because it's easy to see how you relate to the recipient (via colleague, group or industry overall). I simply write as many InMails as my current quota allows - this brings only few signups per month but hell they are relevant - almost directly converting to customers!
Reddit discussions: 50 signups per month
Discussions on the most popular subreddits gather a lot of good attention. The trick is that you should not spam your product where-ever you see a possibility to post a link. Instead, create relevant conversations that contain links to your product or blog posts. For example yesterday I started a discussion under /r/startups by asking what sales tools SaaS companies are using. The aim of the discussion is really to understand our potential customers better - this helps us to develop better product - but I was also very happy to see many new signups coming to our product directly from this conversation.
Quora answers: 50 signups per month
One is above the others what comes to conversion rates. Approximately 5% of all visitors coming from Quora are converting to signups on our website. This is because the questions are often very relevant and answers can get directly to the point. Quora questions are also nicely visible in the Google search results when people are searching for specific topics.
See for example my answer to the question What is the best suited CRM for SaaS.
Right ways to link your blog posts: 100 signups per month
We all know that blogging is the most important part of content marketing, so I'm not going to describe that any further. But instead I'm more interested where to get readers. Blogging is 50% about writing the relevant content and 50% about linking your blog posts to the right audience. If one of these is missing, results are poor. As soon as a blog post is published I walk through this list and post the link wherever it's suitable: 
  • Reddit subreddit selected by topic - I have a list of around 10 different subreddits that relate to our business. Every blog post that we write are published on one of these subreddits. 
  • LinkedIn group selected by topic - Also in LinkedIn it's very important to select the group carefully. The most important thing is that your blog post relates to the group's discussion and it's not only advertising your product. Group rules vary a lot, so be aware what are the rules for linking a blog post in each group. 
  • Hacker News - This is a bit "yellow paper" of startup news as it has such a lot of varied readers and all kind of companies posting their news. It's also easy to attract people to click your link, but don't do it only for clicks. You want to get signups, not visitors. That's why it's important to specify your title with industry specific terms. Baremetrics wrote a very good blog post about how How Hacker News Generated $1,500 in Monthly Recurring Revenue. The title must talk the language of your potential paying customers.
  • Quora - This goes in two ways: Sometimes I browse Quora and seek for blogging ideas. Sometimes I make a search after I've blogged. Either way, it's typically fairly easy to find relevant discussion and add your comment to it with the link to your blog post. This generates signups still months and years after linking! 
Make a Google search for similar articles and blog posts and write a comment with link to your blog post. This takes time, but if you make a search query for a topic and find the conversation from the front page of Google, you need to be part of this conversation.
SaaS / App product listings: 30 signups per month
No need to say much more, just submit. There are much more than just GetApp (which unfortunately doesn't provide link to your website anymore without a commercial plan). Although not a single one of these brings instantly a constant stream of signups, you will receive signups from dozen of different sources on a long run and also Google likes that your product is well linked across internet:
Finishing touch with Twitter
Once you have posted your links to Quora, SaaS product listings, public LinkedIn groups, Reddit pages or anywhere else - make a tweet! The most important part of social media marketing is that you tweet about your "tweets" outside Twitter. Regularly. It feels a bit frustrating at the beginning (you might have only 30 followers as we currently have, SignupLab was just recently soft-launched ;) But the amount of followers doesn't really matter (not even some market leaders on B2B have more than 100 followers!) as long as you use the right hashtags and tweet regularly. Twitter makes the final boost for your signup figures and helps you to reach the target: 500 signups per month.
Now that I'm doing these activities EVERY DAY, I like to enjoy my morning coffee while following the dashboards of SignupLab and checking how today's signups are rolling in :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Customer success for dummies - What every SaaS startup founder should know

Like most good advice, customer success sounds really simple, but gets complicated once you want to implement it in your own business. So instead of waxing poetical on its many virtues (and there are many), let’s take the For Dummies approach and drill down into what really counts:

How customer success will help you take over the world!

Kidding! Kind of. Not really.

The definition of customer success is:

“A proactive, holistic, and organization-level approach that leverages technology and real-enough-time visibility into customer health (not just usage data, but any contextual inputs) to ensure your customers – including those who directly use (users, administrators, etc.) and those who benefit from the use of your product – continually and increasingly receive value from your product over the course of their lifetime as a customer.” - Lincoln Murphy, Sixteen Ventures

How customer success works, with real, actionable tips

Customer success begins even before the acquisition stage of the Buy Cycle, because in order to deliver those desired outcomes, you have to find out what they are first. Nobody minds answering a few questions if in answering them, they’ll be closer to getting something they want, so try implementing customer surveys to ascertain problem/solution fit, and later, product/market fit.
  • First: Identify your ideal customer
  • Second: Identify the solution they most want to solve, and let them tell you what their desired outcome is (using qualitative data gathering methods like interviews and surveys).
Steps one and two ideally happen pre-launch, but if you’re late to the game, there’s no time like the present. If you’re entering into a new market segment, bringing a new product to market, or have a product/service/sales funnel that isn’t behaving the way you’d like, it’s time to go back to basics and find out who your customers are and what they want to do.
  • Third: Prove your value, fast
Let’s pretend that customer acquisition is a game of “Who can prove their worth the fastest?” And the players are you and your competitors. As you’re drawing prospects down the sales funnel, it should be through a series of content, offers, freebie how-tos and webinars, funny pictures on Facebook – value-driven stuff that positions you as an authority in whatever they want to achieve.

Proving value doesn’t stop when they finally hit the “Buy” button either. The first two weeks of a new customer’s experience are critical – this is when they decide whether you’re worth their time and money (yes, the seeds of churn are sewn here!). You can prove your worth and WOW them with it if you build it into your onboarding process. For example, a new user signs up, triggering this series of events:
  • New user receives welcome email from a customer success agent who asks them what they would most like to achieve with your product. 
  • New user is impressed that somebody cares (they care! They really care!) and replies: “I’d like to sell more balloon poodles at the next county fair.” 
  • Customer success agent replies “I love balloon poodles! So cool! Would 50 more balloon poodles be a good starting point for the next 3 months?”
See what happened there? The customer success agent keys in on the new customer’s desired outcome, then creates a specific, measurable, attainable goal that they can keep track of. Maybe there’s even a page built into the website that helps the customer track their own progress towards their goal.

Now, we’re not done yet with awesome-onboarding. Depending on the tool/product/service, you might need to use a simple how-to program like Whatfix to guide newbies through the first several actions, or you might use your customer’s feedback on their desired outcome to produce an ebook or a series of blog posts on how to use your product to achieve it. Essentially, you prove your worth by making your customer’s success a priority – and making sure they know it!

For existing customers, it’s also important to continue proving your value by constantly adding value in ways that engage and delight. Try hosting member-only exclusive webinars with industry experts, or publishing a private newsletter available only to current customers with even better deals on new products or expansions, or unique high-value content. Have fun with it, and they will too.

Gee, this sounds like a lot of trouble doesn’t it? Is it worth it?

How customer success pays for itself, and makes you gobs of money

  • Cost to acquire a new customer (CAC) is a metric that encompasses product cost, research & development, and marketing – everything it takes to attract and convert a new customer. According to Kissmetrics, it can cost as much as 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current client, and current customers become more cost-efficient with each subscription cycle. That high cost doesn’t have to be a given – your Customer Success efforts should target lowering CAC as a primary goal, because with happy, successful customers come referrals. And referrals are free.
  • Reducing churn is where Customer Success shines, because instead of being reactive, like customer service or customer support, success teams can identify at-risk customers before those customers call in with a problem. If you’ve followed the advice in the previous section, your customer success agent already knows whether the customer is (or is not) achieving their desired outcomes, and if they aren’t – and are displaying churn-related behaviors like having long gaps between logins – you’ve got some strong clues of trouble.

    Here’s the thing: by the time an unhappy client contacts you, it’s already too late. But if your Customer Success team has been helping them along and answering questions every step of the way, customers won’t have any reason to leave unless your product really can’t do what they want. In that case, you’re either attracting the wrong clients, or failing to manage expectations appropriately.

    As Lincoln Murphy says, “Customer success is about more than delivering service or support. It’s about having real-time visibility into the issues customers are facing and finding smarter ways to manage those issues.”

    Customer Success can save your lost contracts and increase up-sells, cross-sells, upgrades and referrals in one fell swoop.
  • Increasing lifetime value is key to boosting profitability because your old customers are the ones who bring in the most revenue for the least amount of money. But, increasing lifetime value isn’t just about keeping old clients around – it’s about turning your oldest and best clients into loud, enthusiastic brand advocates who will sing your praises, agree to upsells, help with cross-sells, and deliver referrals. When people get the results they want, along with a great experience, they can’t stop talking about it.
  • Negative churn happens when revenue from existing customers expands and offsets revenue lost from churn (think of it as lifetime value on steroids). Negative churn comes from three types of sales: 
    1. The cross-sell: Customers purchase add-ons for the central product or service.
    2. Resource expansion: Customers use more of the product, like buying more space in DropBox.
    3. Seat expansion: More customers within the same company buy the product.
When your customer success team helps clients achieve their goals and find genuine value in your product and engagement with your company, revenue isn’t the only result. You’ll grow like crazy.

Should you adopt customer success?

If churn is an issue, retention is a problem, and lifetime value is that of a mayfly (did you know mayflies only live 24-hours? Fun fact), you should adopt customer success. And, if you rock at acquisition and retention, you should still adopt customer success (though you probably have already). Customer success is what every great company does, with or without the name, because at the end of the day, we only succeed when our customers succeed right along with us.

SignupLab - #1 sales CRM and customer success software for B2B SaaS companies

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Three enterprise SaaS trends for 2016

Which direction are the clouds moving? Here are three interesting enterprise SaaS trends that I like to follow:

1. SaaS production is standardized and integrated

Thanks to early pioneers of SaaS, internet is now full of ready-made tools for SaaS vendors. Easy-to-use APIs, SaaS application platforms, market places, easy-to-implement payment gateways and even better educated customers. Practically every new enterprise software startup chooses a SaaS delivery model with de facto methods: Subscription based pricing, scalable multi-tenant architecture and fully automated online sales processes. Interesting thing is that it’s not only SaaS - it’s the whole “subscription economy” in B2B world that is following these same patterns.

2. Vertical solutions for each niche market

As market size and penetration of SaaS accelerates, more customers are able to get the benefits. Standardised technology, tools and delivery processes make it possible to create more focused SaaS products with less resources. Horizontal solutions such as generic CRMs, collaboration platforms or marketing tools are facing tough competition, while industry specific solutions and ERPs provide endless opportunities to create new business with significant profit. Might make huge enterprise SaaS unicorns more rare, but mid-sized SaaS vendors and B2B startups are living the time of their lives.

3. Pricing is getting back to realistic levels

Thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This pattern can be found everywhere, also in enterprise software pricing. It was a huge jump from late 90s expensive upfront IT investments into consumerized freemium SaaS services. This generated a lot of new startups, from which 99% died before they figured out how to make money. Fortunately the era of freemium-first is finally left behind and serious enterprise SaaS startups try to figure out how to make money since the day zero after launch. For customers there’s no free lunch anymore, which in turn means better quality, better services and more realistic basis for doing business.

SaaS is getting into mature age. The first windows of opportunities have already closed, while new windows are opening with cool concepts such as machine learning, blockchain (technology behind bitcoin) and integrated cloud-native development routines. SaaS enterprises are living interesting times indeed.