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The Top Ten Dos and Don’ts of SaaS Business Success
Succeeding in software-as-a-service requires a paradigm shift from push to pull revenue generation. Lower annual subscription revenue per customer and much lower cash up front create intense pressure to decrease average customer acquisition cost. This fact implies an unpleasant loss of control over the sales process and a commensurate need to focus more keenly on facilitating purchase over hard selling.
With the customer firmly in control, the role of sales and marketing switches from chemist to catalyst—from driving revenue to accelerating organic growth. Accelerating organic growth means stimulating demand and facilitating purchase by understanding and leveraging your prospect’s natural buying behavior. SaaS business managers should continually ask themselves the simple question: “How can I get more prospects to find my product, evaluate my product and buy my product over the Web even if no one shows up for work in the morning?”
The secret enabling organic growth is to eliminate purchase barriers and to respond on-demand with the information necessary to motivate the prospect to take the next step in the buying process. Being at the right place at the right time requires up-front investment in so-called free marketing tactics, e.g., SEO, public relations, blogging, social marketing, video, automated nurturing, newsletters, case studies, interactive demos, product trial, etc., so that content is ready and waiting to be served up when needed. In reality these activities are not free; they are simply free at the time of use, shifting the economics of revenue generation from direct, variable sales and marketing costs to indirect, fixed costs. In fact, this characteristic provides a convenient economic definition of organic growth:
growth = revenue generated with (near) zero marginal acquisition cost
No advertising, no outbound marketing campaigns, no sales calls, no technical inquiries, and no manual order processing. This financial viewpoint clearly highlights the primary benefit of accelerating organic growth: operating leverage. Increasing organic revenue decreases the average acquisition cost per deal and increases overall profitability. Moreover, accelerating organic growth and lowering marginal acquisition cost systematically expands your available market by allowing you to sell profitably on the outer reaches of the long tail.