Why Simplicity Matters for SaaS Businesses (And How to Keep It Simple)
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The software world is full of mouth-watering templates, frameworks, schematics, configurations, processes, workflows, journeys, plans and other business planning growth strategies. of every business consultant. And yet, the word I hear most often when it comes to strategy these days—a word so compelling, yet so disconnected from one growing business after another—is simply “simplicity.” Voluntary pun.
You see, simplicity itself is probably the underlying principle and North Star that guides every SaaS founder’s visionary approach to starting a business in the first place – even our old favorite word from 2002-2020: “ disturbance”.
And it’s easy to see why. After all, simplicity is a departing ideal. It’s the perfect partner you’ve always thought about, nurtured and tried to take care of…until the day you walk through the door and it’s gone. It abandons you (unless you abandon it first) when “real life” takes over, or in this case – real customers, real feature requests, real product reviews, real unsubscribe issues or real cash flow issues. Suddenly simplicity became too simple to put aside. Until that is no longer the case.
So why should we throw away simplicity? Especially if it’s the guiding principle that lights our SaaS fire in the first place and is so intertwined with running an efficient, results-driven business? How can you keep it, nurture it, and keep it as your North Star even as your business evolves, changes, and evolves?
Related: Building Success: Insights from 7 Leading SaaS Companies
Why Simplicity Matters
When you really dig into a SaaS business and its metrics, simplicity is nothing more than a vague term or guiding principle. Simplicity, indeed, is and should always be very clear – tied to real strategies, real results, and real metrics that can be correlated to effective and sustainable growth in every corner of your business.
Simplicity should affect:
How you innovate: As your business and customer base mature, it can be worth tracking every little feature request on your product roadmap (especially those coming from your largest, highest-paying customers). But balancing and prioritizing feedback with your users’ needs and NPS scores is critical to your ability to continue innovating while maintaining the intuitive (dare I say “easy”) product experience your leaders expect.
How you market and sell: we see it all the time — as businesses evolve, products become more feature-rich, and the problems you solve become deeper or broader, your value proposition evolves. Ask any seasoned product marketer, and they’ll tell you that one of their biggest day-to-day challenges is translating complex pitches and flows into simple business benefits that sales reps can easily articulate and prospects can. easily understand. Solutions that clearly explain how and when they create value and provide a simple buying experience for prospects, also deliver faster sales cycles, higher average transaction sizes and lower customer acquisition costs (CAC ) lower for you.
How you retain and grow your customers: Perhaps nothing is more important in today’s changing business environment than your ability to deliver value post-deal and, therefore, retain and to develop your customers. Typically, this starts with onboarding, where clear and concise processes can help users adopt key metrics such as time to value (TTV) and key features. But it also expands how you engage your customers throughout their post-sales journey, giving them easy access to support resources and documentation, connecting with your customer success team digitally or in person, to add more seats, features or purchase. . or product, and ultimately look at the ROI you’re paying for them.
Related: 5 Growth Hacks for Your SaaS Business
How to keep it simple
I’ll be the first to tell you that there are very few thrills in life like starting a business from scratch, getting your first customers, and then turning it into a real living business. But such challenges are few. Growth is difficult. Adding people, customers, investors, advisors, features, products, services, solutions, markets, geographies – well, you can see how this can easily create a barn of tangled threads…if you allow it.
So here’s a little tip to keep things simple. You’ve probably heard a lot when looking for relationship advice:
Ask and Listen (meaning, really listen): No matter what stage your business is growing, it’s important to listen to the voice of your customers. Whether you’re sending out surveys, collecting NPS or CSAT scores, soliciting feedback on products or features in apps or through digital communities, or enjoying a good old-fashioned phone call to figure out what works (and what doesn’t), this is probably the most important activity your business can undertake. The only thing more important is to make sure you really listen and respond to feedback as soon as you receive it.
Learn to say “no”: Let’s face it: saying “no” is hard, especially when a request comes from one of your highest-paying customers. But knowing how and when to say “no” is the only way to keep your product from turning into a bloated, unusable mess. Have clarity and logic behind your roadmap. Understand how to ask for clarification, rephrase questions and offer alternatives. And above all, even if you are going to say “no”, always make sure that your client feels heard, recognized and appreciated.
Know your numbers: Last, but not least, learn how to leverage your data when making important decisions. Faster than information, it does not facilitate informed decisions. And somewhere in all the data you’ve collected are the answers you’re looking for. The more you can leverage with simple, insightful reports, the easier it will be to turn that information into smart, decisive action.
Related: A Quick Checklist for Building a SaaS Business
It’s hard to keep things simple when a business is growing. And when your product is made up of millions of lines of code? Well, it can be even more difficult. But since it’s worth it, simplicity is certainly worth fighting for, planning and working for – because once it’s gone, a lot of other things (including your customers) are likely to follow.
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