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Building a new B2B SaaS product comes with its own set of unique challenges. And like bugs on a windshield, the faster you go, the faster it seems that things start cluttering up your vision. It’s important to take a deep breath, step back and evaluate where you are (and how far you’ve come.) The industry, your customers, and the nature of SaaS are constantly adapting, and so should your product.
“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise .”— Tacitus
Crack open a fresh notebook. Here are a few tips to get you thinking…
- The broader the product, and the more pains it promises to address, the “easier” it will be to sell. It’s like casting a larger net, or putting on a buffet.
- The breadth of a product has an exponential impact on product complexity, cost to service, cost to market, cost to sell, and cost to remain agile.
- The broader the product, and the more diverse the customer population, the harder it will be to innovate in such a way as to keep all customers happy.
- A product that can be used to achieve a goal for savvy customers is not the same as a product that delivers that outcome to all customers.
- Early deals/customers bought into the dream and got lots of love. Their churn and retention rates are not representative.
- It is virtually impossible to think clearly when considering the true costs and rewards of building a feature to close a deal. (But sometimes it works out.)
- Can you hire a reasonably smart 24-year-old, without a Rolodex, and have them close quality deals in 4–6 months? Test that out.
- At some point, you’ll have a quarter that invites the skeletons out of the closet. You can soften this blow if you keep your ears to the ground and listen to the front-lines.
- Sales may indicate you’ve discovered a pain worth solving but usage and renewal rates truly indicate that your product solves that pain.
- No news is not good news. Welcome the feature requests, blistering feedback, and support tickets (to a point). It shows someone is taking notice.
Building a new product and a new company can be a struggle but we wouldn’t miss it for the world. Entrepreneurs are simply problem solvers at heart, but a tenacious sales strategy and enthusiastic customer success calls will only take your product so far. Giving teams the product and customer data they need to set and execute a successful strategy can really make the difference between guessing what’s right and knowing what’s right. Read how other product managers are seeing a significant 2x increase in revenue when teams have a data strategy in place. Data won’t solve all the challenges for a SaaS company, but it can clarify the issues you face.
That constant buzzing noise in your ears isn’t the drone of summertime mosquitoes. It’s the zippy click of John Cutler’s keyboard as he spins romantic tales of product love lost and found, and then lost and then found again. It’s like Days of Our Lives for product managers without all the glamour and hairspray. The above tips were excerpted from John’s Medium account where he writes about wrangling product, business, and life.