The Top 10 Must Do’s for Young SaaS Companies

To Do List

I declare this week as the “Top 10″ Practices week in Totango!

After yesterday’s post on Top 10 Requirements for an Effective Client Lifecycle, Today, I’m going to review Jeff Bennet’s top 10 must do’s for young SaaS companies.

Jeff Bennett, who is the founder and CEO of ServiceVantage, has a lot of experience working with SaaS companies in various sizes and being part of the SaaS Industry myself, I see eye to eye with his key strategies and therefore thought it would be interesting to share:

  1. Easily Consumable and User Initiated – have ALL of your customer experience as easy as possible. This includes software trials, sales, on-boarding, training,  support etc.
  2. Hold off on the elephant hunt – Don’t start off with the big shots companies, take it step by step and wait till you’ll have a more mature infrastructure
  3. Configure, don’t customize – Rather than customizing, allow configuration which do not change the core product yet provide some tailoring to specific customer needs
  4. Marketing can close deals – Sales are all about conversion from lead to paid. Incent your marketing to close deals!
  5. Understand your cost of sale – Push deals by their cost – bigger deals to outside sales and smaller to marketing
  6. Understand usage rates – Learn to measure customer engagement and usage data, you can use specified SaaS dashboard to do it for you!
  7. Have a Client Lifecycle Program – Especially important for SaaS businesses that need to ensure customer retention and recurring revenue
  8. Don’t be an island – Aspire to integrate your solution with other solutions to increase dependency on your service
  9. Broaden the impact of your SaaS solution through services – Provide service offerings to compliment your solution
  10. Make client retention a corporate mantra – this is not only the concern of your Support group – have the entire company focus on client retention and reducing churn

For the full version of the tips, please refer Jeff’s post on ServiceVentage blog

SaaS Executive Dashboard

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The SaaS Executive Dashboard

Today, the Totango team is excited to announce a brand new “SaaS Executive Dashboard”.
The Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard is an extension of the Totango online platform which allows SaaS teams to gain full visibility into the level of customer engagement in their business.

The SaaS Executive Dashboard allows SaaS executives to track and plan to improve key SaaS performance indicators and contains features such as Cohort Analysis. From the dashboard you can also drill down and instantly see specific account details.

The simplest way to learn about the SaaS Executive Dashboard is to watch this intro movie.

Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard from Totango on Vimeo.

We’ve chosen the metrics included in the SaaS Executive Dashboard based on discussions with many SaaS companies at various maturity levels. Many of these conversations started from our  SaaS Metrics Survey through which we aimed to capture an even wider view of the industry.

We’ve learned that most companies are struggling with homegrown monitoring solutions and still lack the visibility into important metrics needed to make strategic and tactical decisions for their company.

You can download the full survey to learn more. However, bottom line, most SaaS companies start with nothing, then as they grow they realize they need metrics to measure their business and start building home grown solutions which eventually gets out of control in terms of complexity and budget.

Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard captures the current SaaS best practices around monitoring customer engagement and customer success and tracks visitors, signups, activations, conversions and your SaaS churn rate. You can monitor against your business objectives and plans, diagnose problems and identify areas for improvement. The Totango SaaS Executive dashboard is the best way to focus your SaaS organization around customer engagement and customer success.

 

Availability

The Dashboard is available to existing Totango customers and will be available for new registrations within a couple of weeks. You can go ahead and pre-register to get access when it’s released.

The SaaS Exec Dashboard will always have a free tier, so SaaS startups that are just starting their business can take advantage of industry best practices with limited effort.

View our Trial Conversion Webinar!

 

To learn more about how to measure key metrics
view our 40 minute webinar: “Best Practices on Trial Conversion

 

About TOTANGO:
TOTANGO analyzes in real time customer engagement and intention within SaaS applications to help you grow your business

 

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Tools to Manage a Successful SaaS Business

Managing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business isn’t trivial. Successful SaaS companies are able to deal with a high volume of leads and turn those into a high volume of loyal customers with fast response and turnaround time.

This is often referred to as the ‘sales and marketing machine’ – a highly optimized, massively scalable and controlled business operation that is capable of:

  • Generating, managing and nurturing leads;
  • Converting leads into paying customers at high conversion rates;
  • Ensuring customer success and preventing churn;
  • Continuously increasing the service value, differentiation and offerings.

In order to build a ‘sales and marketing machine,’ companies need to invest in the tools that will get them the business scalability that is required and reduce the learning curve.

Many startups begin with homegrown solutions using spreadsheets and databases (with a bit of integration glue in between). This is sufficient for small scale, but quickly becomes unwieldy as the organization grows. Luckily, there are excellent tools available for SaaS companies to leverage.

Many vendors have a “starter” package, so there is really no excuse not to start building your tool-chest sooner rather than later.

The Customer Life-Cycle

To best understand where the different categories of tools fit, it’s best to look at the various stages of the customer life-cycle, as they evolve from early prospects to mature customers.

At Totango, we use the following customer life-cycle terms:

  • Visitor – Anonymous user on the website
  • Lead – Person who has expressed some interest in the service. This can be anything from downloading a white paper to signing-up to a trial
  • Evaluating – A user (or company) who’s actively evaluating the service usually during a trial period or fermium
  • Onboarding – A paying customer in the initial usage period
  • Mature – A paying customer who has been loyal to the service beyond the initial usage period

With those definitions in mind, it’s easier to associate solutions and tools to help carry customers through every phase of their life-cycle.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

CRM is a common way to keep a reference of all customers’ life-cycle stages. CRM organizes all contacts’ information and account details in a single database, so it’s vital you select a tool that fits your needs and can grow with you.

Primary users
Specifically, your CRM software will be the main working software of your inside sales teams as they organize account work mainly during the sales life-cycle phases.

Select list of CRM solutions
Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Highrise, or the ever promising Pipedrive

Web Analytics

Web analytics tools keep track of visitor activity on your website and various other marketing properties; this is where you keep track of your top-tier leads funnel, measure the initial success of marketing and advertising programs, and work to improve visitors’ experience with your products’ properties.

Primary users
Mainly the marketing team, though other users in the organization (product team, IT) will need to use it as well.

Select list of Web Analytics solutions
Google Analytics is the most commonly used tool. It’s immensely powerful, feature-rich and free. But there are other good tools your marketing team should look at, such as Clicky, WebTrends that provide additional useful views into vistiors’ actions.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation takes you beyond basic web-properties and aims to help you interact, build, and cultivate a relationship with leads, so they can ultimately be passed on to your sales team and “convert” to happy customers.

Primary users
This is your marketing team’s main toy!

Select list of Marketing Automation tools
Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua

Post Marketing

A post marketing (sales & customer success) solution stack for SaaS companies does not exist yet. Enabling the buying process (converting leads), ensuring customer success, and increasing service value, is something that I feel is needed and missing in the market, and this is what we’re building in Totango.

SaaS Dashboard

Having all the above tools in place enables marketing, sales and customer success teams to effectively do their jobs and be an integral part of the ‘sales and marketing machine’.

Having said that, it’s crucial to have a single business dashboard available to the executive teams that allows them monitor the business end-to-end.
The SaaS dashboard should include operational metrics, trends and key business performance indicators (KPI’s), which allow the business owners, get ‘the full picture’ of the business, identify bottlenecks and allow to teams to take appropriate actions.

Summary

The SaaS model presents an opportunity to run a predictable and high-volume business. The first step is to put the required business infrastructure in place in order to monitor, analyze and optimize the sales and marketing machine operation continuously.

In coming posts, I’ll discuss in further detail the actual attributes of the SaaS dashboard.

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The 2012 SaaS Free Trial, Freemium and Pricing Benchmark

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About Totango:

Totango analyzes in real time customer engagement and intention within SaaS applications to help you grow your business

 

Want to have a successful SaaS business?
Try Totango free for 30 days