Software is changing the world of business. SaaS startups are offering great products with real tangible benefits in every business sector. But persuading business top adopt new technology is tough. Often the benefits of SaaS are sold in terms of time. But turning time into money is not easy. SaaS for SMBs needs to find ways to help their customers realise these benefits.
Many things have changed in the world of enterprise software. Yet there is one apparent constant. Almost every product claims that it will save the customer time. Sometimes the word used is efficiency. Often the marketing team will jump straight to advertising cost savings. A quick look will confirm that the real benefit is time reduction. Tasks, routines or processes carried out faster or with less pairs of hands.
Tech Does Not Turn Time Into Money
This is a problem. There is a management principle that work expands to fill the time available. It is even older than than the computer industry. IT projects have a long and undistinguished history of failing. They don't deliver any real benefits from all those time savings.
Unless you do something about it, saving time does not turn into saving money.
This matters because enterprise software buyers are all sceptics. The benefits of new IT are in doubt throughout the business world. Executives in companies large and small all bear scars. Memories of expensive projects with zero benefits.
The traditional solution to this problem is change management. In the last 10 years the enterprise software industry has become dominated by services. A large part of the revenue in this area comes from change projects. Designed to extract concrete business benefits from high priced software implementations.
How Can SaaS Tackle This Paradox?
So if your SaaS is designed to save your SME customers time, how can you tackle this paradox?
First you need to be clear how time converts into money. Your customer has three basic options:
Business leaders in any company hate number 1. Don’t believe what you read about executives who love taking the hatchet to payroll. It is a sad and painful business in any organisation.
Number 2 is more popular among leaders. But it means change. And there is always a solid group of employees who fear change. It is discomfort rather than outright pain. That is enough to create resistance. Resistance eats benefits. It is relentless and invisible. But it is horribly effective.
SaaS For SMEs - Use Content And Onboarding
Selling SaaS to SMEs you don’t have the time or resources to deliver change for your customers. That does not stop you from helping customers understand the benefits of your product. The two best opportunities are through content marketing and onboarding.
Your content marketing is a great opportunity to promote the upside of your product. Turn the time benefits into language a customer will understand. I am on the board of Appointedd. A time and scheduling app for SMEs. I love their simple way of expressing the benefits to a small business owner. Do More Of What You Love.
There are plenty of other examples. The key is to use content to help your customer think about real business questions:
For onboarding the trick is to broaden your thinking. Most onboarding processes focus on the SaaS product. This is important your customer needs to know how to get up and running.
But don’t stop there. Provide help which enables your customer to use the product as well as just installing it. Give illustrations of the product working in practice. How have other customers delivered the benefits? Show them through case studies and war stories.
B2B SaaS is about building products which provide real business benefit. That is the promise you are selling to customers. It is the mechanism that will allow software to disrupt and transform industries everywhere. Startup founders need to understand how their product delivers benefit need to end.
Just showing how to save time is not enough. Think through the real wins from your product. And build content and onboarding services that help your customers get there.
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Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.