Selling services is a relationship not a process. SaaS companies are great at the data and the detail. It is time to step back and look at the whole board. I call this Customer Centric SaaS. At heart it means looking at lifetime value to the customer as well as measuring LTV for your company.
John Hornell Quantify Workshop
We had a great discussion this week in the awesome Fairfields Govan Co-working space run by Rookieoven. John Hornell from Quantify gave an excellent workshop on startup marketing and lead generation. The companies there asked insightful questions and we all learned.
These events always leave me challenging my own thinking. There is a huge body of advice and evidence about startup sales & marketing. How to build a process. An engine. A machine.
Something is Missing
Data driven experiments. Testing and iteration. Careful management through each stage of the funnel. Seen through the microscope this all makes sense. But I have had a nagging feeling for a while that something is missing.
The problem is simple. SaaS is a service (the clue is in the name). I have been selling services all my professional life. And none of it feels like this.
Most of that time I have been in big business consulting. I remember talking to the CFO of a major client. He was in role reversal. Asking me about my business for once. His question was: “How do you plan when you never sell the same product twice?” It is a query which reveals an important truth. The basic components of a service may be the same. But no two services are identical.
Consider a less complex service. A haircut say. You it in the same chair. The same stylist uses the same scissors and shampoo. It feels like you have the same conversation. Yet no two experiences are exact matches.
To Infinity And Beyond
So a traditional service "sale" is not a process with an end point. It is not so much an end to end process. More a case of To infinity and beyond.
Services are a relationship not a process. Don’t think about a linear set of discrete tasks. A better image is quantum mechanics. A complex web of interactions where the balance can be in several places at the same time. In a service relationship the same team might be marketing, selling, delivering, upselling and preventing churn. All in parallel. Each acting and reacting to every other element.
Small Business Consulting: What Does This Mean For A SaaS Startup?
How might this operate in SaaS? I would advocate a new approach. i call it Customer Centric SaaS. Don’t misunderstand me. Many of the techniques we use today are still valid. Measuring and testing is an essential part of your armoury. But there is more.
Customer Centric Saas means:
My favourite way of describing this is putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Step back and look at the whole board. From the other side, the customer position. Pull yourself out of the detailed metrics and ask how you can fix the problem not just the symptoms.
Finish with a call to action is one of those details every growth advisor recommends. I prefer to suggest this is a call to think. Subscribe below if you want regular updates on the best SaaS thinking.
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.