As the CEO of a SaaS company I’ve realized that when selling a SaaS product the most important thing you can do is to stay in constant contact with your customers. A SaaS model allows you to quickly acquire customers. But they can be lost just as easily. That’s a real problem. Nakul Mandan, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, has described churn as “the devil” for SaaS companies.
You need to view your roadmap as the starting point for a conversation with your customers about the ongoing evolution of your product. Because it’s so easy to lose customers, and because many SaaS customers are themselves young companies still in the process of building out their own products, there’s a demand to constantly see the progress you’re making on your roadmap. Here at People.ai we actually have an “ideas” portal for customers where they can submit their thoughts about our product roadmap and what features they want us to build next.
Now, how is that related to sales you ask? What we’ve found at People.ai is that our strongest selling point is our willingness to be transparent and communicative with our customer base about our roadmap. The more we do it, the more empowered our customers feel, and the longer they stick around. The result is that our customers are essentially “co-creators” of our product with us.
How does this work in practice? What we’ve done is to integrate our product management platform (where we collect customer ideas and promote them to features) with our marketing platform (Marketo). On the other end we integrated our CRM (Salesforce) and customer service system (Zendesk) with our product management platform to minimize friction in collecting and onboarding customer feedback. Our sales reps and support reps are then incentivized to collect feedback that gets built into our roadmap.
With this interlocking workflow we have an easy way to collect customer feedback and push it through the product management/development process. Customers are automatically notified when the feature they’ve asked for is shipped.
That might seem like a small thing, but it turns out that nobody does this on a personalized level. According to our customers, no other vendor is completely working within a “you asked for it, we built it” system. Slack does this to some extent through their frequent updates, and maybe some developers on the Apple AppStore, but that’s about it. Nobody does it in SaaS.
Every time customers ask you for a feature they’re actually asking you a series of questions. Are you listening? Do you care about me? Can you keep your word? Will you take care of me even when your resources are stretched thin? Every time you as a SaaS vendor ignore these requests, or don’t deliver on them, customers lose a little bit of faith in your product and company.
On the other hand, if you establish seamless (and, ideally, automated) communication between customers, sales/support, product development and engineering, you’ll be telling customers that you value their input each time you release a new feature. Trust me, there’s nothing more powerful in accelerating revenue growth than for your customers to feel like their concerns are being heard and addressed.