The business model of software-as-a-service (SaaS) has been around for decades, but it has only become a widespread practice over the last few years. Software companies looking to benefit from this model may need a change in mindset and practices, mainly if they are accustomed to selling on-premise solutions. These improvements will help make the transition a success.
Find the right customer
Many businesses are familiar with the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule for success; that is, 80% of your results come from 20% of your customers. This concept takes on central importance when software will be marketed using the SaaS model. After all, when your customer has the flexibility of subscribing to only a selection of features, for a limited period, it doesn’t make sense to chase after every potential sale. If the software doesn’t line up exactly with their needs, they will simply cancel the subscription and move on in a month’s time.
Fleshing out a detailed buyer persona, and then working hard to land this sort of ideal customer, will pay off immensely in the long run. Background research is just a starting point; the nature of the customer’s work, their industry’s specific challenges, and their workflow priorities will provide much-needed context which will inform everything from pricing plans to new features.
Help drive the customer’s success
Companies operating under the SaaS model soon realize that retention is imperative to making it work – and to achieve this goal, greater involvement is required than the typical level of customer support. That’s not to say customer support and improving the experience is unimportant, but it’s more of a minimum requirement.
Focusing on how you can help the consumer to succeed is how SaaS companies go above and beyond. This means spending more time with the customer during the lifecycle, building rapport, seeing how they use the software and what difficulties are encountered, then being proactive in finding solutions. For instance, software developers may learn from the customer success team that most of their customers are using the system on long-term collaborative projects, and are encountering difficulties training new partners in its use. Even if the developers are busy, now that this need has been identified, they can utilize product onboarding software to address the issue and give customers an easier learning experience.
Anticipate the need for integration
With businesses increasingly coming to embrace digital solutions in every aspect, it’s vital for software companies to accept that no platform can be all-encompassing. Software doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A business might subscribe to one service for its data storage and archiving, another for internal communications, and use Google or Microsoft Office 365 for standard needs and processes.
Developing with the SaaS model in mind means being open to the potential for integration. The easier you make it for a customer to put together various software solutions, the greater your chances of success. Compatibility with widely used CRM platforms like Salesforce makes data synchronization effortless. Creating a browser extension is another way to enhance integration. Researching what the customer’s typical app ecosystem is like will provide the best strategy for developing with integration in mind.
The SaaS model has been a game-changer in recent years, but companies will also need to adjust to make it work. Changing to these key practices will be a great help in its implementation.