The Customer Journey for SaaS-Based Organizations

There is a question we all need to ask our Business Deployment Manager, Chief Marketing Officer or a Director of Sales for our SaaS organization. “How is the Customer going to buy?” Instead of, “How are we going to sell it?” What is the experience for the customer on their buyer's journey.

If we can start changing the framework on how we think, we will start understanding the root cause of the following symptoms

  1. We will not achieve our numbers for this year.
  2. Sales and marketing are not speaking the same language.
  3. Our marketing is more of a fulfillment department of activities but not helping in enabling our sales team.
  4. We are losing market share.
  5. Our MRR are going down.
  6. Our churn rate is going up.
  7. Our clients’ live time value is shrinking and our client acquisition cost is going up.
  8. Our hand-off process between marketing and sales is broken.

You will quickly find out that the real root cause of the problem can be uncovered by asking two different questions: “Do we really understand the customer journey, and “When does the customer journey really start?”

There are usually six paths where the customer journey will start from:

  1. A content marketing campaign leads to an inbound lead from nurturing.
  2. Word of mouth results in inbound leads through a referral.
  3. The sales team reaches out in an outbound sales call, email or LinkedIn inmail.
  4. A community event causing word of mouth.
  5. Search engine optimization leads to competitive ranking against a search query which results in an inbound lead.
  6. A social media interaction such as a tweet, posting a blog post or linking/sharing/commenting on an article.

Regardless, you have to plan your marketing to excel on those six paths. Traditional sales and marketing organization will always think that it is a marathon and that they are running against time. In a SaaS organization, we will need to remember that sales is not the finish line.

Recurring Revenue, MRR, a happy customer, multi-year relationships – these are the new podium finishes and you must structure not only your race plan, but your training, mental game, and marketing and sales teams accordingly.

A Successful SaaS Start-up is based on rapid Growth measure against MRR: Anywhere from 2X to 100X over a 12 month period.

Related: How to Grow Your Tech-SaaS Startup Organization Tenfold in 36 Months and What is the Difference Between Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing?

Traditional Marketing Activities Are:

  1. Branding
  2. PR
  3. RFI/RFP Process
  4. Tradeshows
  5. Websites – big projects that take 3-6 months to implement.

SaaS Marketing Funnels Should Reallocate More Effort On:

  1. Help clients gain awareness
  2. Offer client education
  3. Assist clients with the selection process
  4. Help clients with on-boarding
  5. Enable clients to USE your online SaaS platform and help them with the pilot so that they can go for expansion
  6. Educate them to understand the value of enabling other applications on top of the core or the base platform
  7. Create a stream of monthly ongoing activities on the website to keep it fresh and new (Growth Driven Design)
  8. E-commerce inbound enabled process

Your marketing and sales processes need to be an inclusive, unified process. For a VP of Sales you need to shift your thinking into a marketing enabled sales organization. For a VP of Marketing you need to challenge your department by asking: “how can I re-align my team and resources to help bring revenue?”

Actually all new start-up organizations now have a new title. CRO, Chief Revenue Officer (someone who consolidates both processes together and is responsible for creating a repeatable machine that can bring revenue in on monthly basis).

Here is a traditional example of sales process that is dying and been proven to be very ineffective:

  1. Contacted
  2. Qualified
  3. Demo
  4. Proposal
  5. Closed

Why it is obsolete? Because it is centered around your own sales cycle not your customer buying cycle. What should be the new sales process? Sales and marketing working hand in hand in all aspects? Actually there is no hand-off between sales and marketing. What do customers want?

  • Customer: Will be searching for a problem – Marketing and sales should be helping them find your company through the process.
  • Customer: Further research it online to understand the exact impact and decide if this is a priority – Marketing and Sales should inform and educate them, share more insights and simplify the problem (visually). Let them follow your company to understand what your approach to fixing the problem is.
  • Customer: Does not want pop-ups on your website. They do not need an inside sales manager hunting them after 5 minutes of looking at your website.
  • Customer: Wants to take their time to talk to 2-3 vendors before deciding. They want more information and proof that points out that your platform is the correct online (SaaS platform) that will fix their problem.
  • Customer: Wants someone to walk them through the options, but while you are doing so, answer three questions for them: “Why do I need this? Why Do I need this now? Why should I pick your platform?”

We are working with SaaS-UCaaS-DaaS-IaaS organizations in the USA and Canada to achieve this new nirvana. We would love to hear from you.