Guest post by Pawel Grabowski, Founder of Smashing Rankings.
SaaS can be quite frustrating.
You were doing so well, building the product and steering your company to success.
But you’ve hit a wall.
You feel stuck.
And no matter what you do, you just can’t overcome that one annoying problem.
The reality is, neither can many other fellow SaaS founders.
Practically every SaaS founder faces challenges that prevent them from taking their company to the next level.
In my work, I interact with many of them and hear about their problems and frustrations with growing their businesses.
I would like to share some of the most common ones I encounter and offer you some guidance on how to overcome them.
The best people to learn from are the SaaS founders and executives who are deep in the mud. Many of them will descend to Dublin in less than two weeks for SaaStock. I have chosen a few of them who address the problems I talk about in this post.
Challenge #1: Hustling a Way to the Market
Here’s a major problem with SaaS markets today:
They’re overcrowded and oversaturated with fierce competition.
And so, if you really want to break through and start growing your SaaS startup, then you have no other way but to sell.
However, many founders, particularly those coming from technical backgrounds find it hard to hustle their way to the market.
Even the sheer idea of just picking up the phone, and calling potential customers leaves them at wit’s end.
(And that’s even before they realize that for the most part, they’ll be rejected. A lot.)
But that’s the new business reality. You have to sell, and you have to do it hard.
3 reasons why:
- At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying.
- Only 25% of leads can become prospects and get into the sales funnel.
- And of them, 79% will never convert into sales. (source)
To win the market, you need to out-hustle everyone else.
And the good news is, you can learn how to do it.
As a matter of fact, at SaaStock, you can attend two amazing talks that will set you off on the right path to hustling.
Steli Efti– How to Design a Killer SaaS Sales Call
Why should you listen toSteli? Steli Efti is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Elastic – an on-demand sales team for startups, and a CEO of close.io, a killer sales tool. In short, he’s got the wealth of knowledge you need to launch and deliver sales strategy for your SaaS.
Nathan Barry – Using Direct Sales to Bootstrap to $8M ARR
Why should you listen to Nathan? He’s the founder of ConvertKit, an email marketing software for professional bloggers that he grew to 15,000 active users.
Challenge #2: Acquiring Customers Online
86% of SaaS businesses consider customer acquisition as the highest priority.
Yet they don’t focus so much on it because it’s a low hanging fruit.
Quite on the contrary, in fact.
Customer acquisition is hard.
Countless nuances affect your acquisition throughout the entire process, from how you attract visitors to your site to the strategies you use to convert them.
From choosing the most viable channel to implementing the strategy, and finally, ensuring that you don’t overspend on the acquisition cost.
In fact, from what I noticed, many founders find themselves confused about the entire process, unsure where to invest their money and time to attract more users.
No surprise that, as Tomasz Tunguz points,
“The median startup spends 92% of first-year revenue on customer acquisition, taking 11-months to pay back their Customer Acquisition Cost.”
Where do you start? With a clear plan that also takes into consideration your available resources.
Want to learn how to develop it? Zuzana Kudelova will dispel that at her talk Revolutionize Your Online Customer Acquisition to Take Your Business to the Next Level
Why should you listen to Zuzana? For the last 1.5 years, she has worked as a VP of New Business and Growth at GetApp / Gartner Digital Markets, overseeing business development, account management and reviews acquisition service globally and recently in EMEA.
Challenge #3: Building an Audience
Today’s customers prefer to do the research themselves and find solutions to their problems on their own accord.
They’ve also grown more skeptical about sales and marketing messages.
All that paved the way for a new way of attracting them to your SaaS – content.
Today’s most successful SaaS brands incorporate, or even fully base their marketing on inbound strategies – blog posts, landing pages, videos, and other content types that attract, convert and retain the audience.
Practically everyone in their respective markets knows their content, reads their posts and shares them with devotion.
What those companies have done is use content to build a following, people that either become customers or help the company grow by talking about them.
However, building an audience takes more than just publishing a blog post each day.
- You need to become highly relevant to your target audience.
- Learn what challenges they face to educate them on what matters to them.
- And write content people will remember after reading it.
“When people read your content, they want to come away from it feeling like they’ve earned something for the time they’ve spent reading it.”
And as luck would have it, Ed will also be sharing his insights into building a SaaS audience at SaaStock this year.
If you struggle with using content to attract more people to your brand, check out his talk: How to Build a Highly Engaged SaaS Audience
Why should you listen to Ed? Ed is the director of content at Charmogul, responsible for growing the company’s audience through the inbound channels.
Challenge #4. Internationalisation and Going Global
By its nature, SaaS is an international business. You can sell to anyone, regardless of where they are.
But would they feel the same about your app, if they are in London, Tokyo or somewhere else, for that matter?
Well, that’s not so certain.
The same applies to the marketing message you use to promote it to them.
Not to mention, business structure, if you decide to open operations in countries other than yours. Suddenly issues like different cultures, languages, ways of working and legalities begin to play a part in your company’s growth.
And so, needless to say, at some point, internationalization begins to pose a serious challenge for founders.
Luckily for you, if you struggle with going global, we have two fantastic talks for you:
Scott Sage and Andy Leaver: Break It or Make It – Internationalising Global Software Companies.
And a panel discussion on building a SaaS presence in the US with:
- Thomas Smale – Co-Owner and Founder, FE International
- Claire McHugh – CEO, Axonista
- Ulrik Bo Larsen – CEO and Founder, Falcon.io
Why should you attend this talk? These three founders may have many things in common, and success is definitely one of them. Each started in a different European country (UK, Ireland, and Denmark) and successfully built a presence in the US.
Fact: Practically every SaaS founder faces challenges that prevent them from taking their company to the next level.
Be it growth, sales or going global, they struggle with ideas that would help them push the business forward.
Remember, you are not alone in this. Many others have been there and will continue to be. The great thing about events like SaaStock is that it brings the SaaS family together to share the pain with, learn from and celebrate with once you overcome them.
I will be there and hope to see you there too.