Friday, February 5, 2010

Work closer to your customers to deliver successful SaaS solutions

Entrepreneurs are passionate, self motivated, obsessed rebels who believe in their dreams & ambitions and are generally driven by their own experiences. If these could have been enough to drive a successful software product idea to the marketplace - we would have seen a thousand SalesForce already in the market - isn't it?

I believe that you need all these, but the secret sauce in delivering a successful SaaS venture lies in the ability to launch products that are designed corresponding to customers' needs.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of being biased while making crucial product decisions. They are victim of classifying themselves as the users and neglect the interests of their customers. They have to understand that their target audience consists of people who have different reactions and motivations and have to work closely with them.

Of course, it is easier said than done, but here is a simple four step process to serve as a guideline while piloting your product - Categorize, Engage, Adapt and Iterate (another alphabet soup for successful SaaS ventures to remember).

Learn to Categorize your users into different buckets. While a CEO would want completely different features in the product, a sales executive would have a different perspective. You need to understand how you are going to cater to every target users' needs with your current offering and what you
lack in...

This could simply mean in other words to put your users into different buckets and attempt to reach out and Engage with them. Ask them questions closer to their needs which you are trying to access. You don't need to ask them 'What features do you want?' What you rather need to understand is 'How do you perform this activity right now?' The key is to understand their pain points.

Once you have the feedback, it's time to Adapt & factor it within your product. Analyze customers' needs and map them into product features that would suit them the best and deliver them in the most simple manner is a key element of a successful SaaS solution. Keep in mind that you do not need to bring a revolution in the way they do things; you simply have to identify their pain points in their present system and simplify those processes.

All said and done, you can be rest assured that everything will not fall in place with the first pilot. The mantra of success lies in continuously Iterating :)

Here's a cool illustration of the same process using personas, something which you can't afford to overlook.


I will return with more learning's soon, till then - TaDa and remember to keep the target audience in your mind. Involve them in the process of product design and stay on course - Hungry and Foolish!

Best,
Ankit Jain
Account Executive
Wolf Frameworks

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