Aligning your SaaS Product Design, Marketing and Sales Strategies
When you think about your Software as a Service company sales, and marketing strategy you’ll need to consider the product complexity, who is your target customer segment, and what other players will be involved in the sale process(not full 4Ps analysis here). In each of the cases below different levels of effort and cost to market and sale your product(s) is needed. Partner recruiting is selling, which means, leads generation, sales cycle, value proposition, and some form of an inside sales team. Working with the channels requires investments, competing on VAR attention is selling, and the competition is growing with every new SaaS solution developed. Growing SaaS companies like HubSpot, Marketo, ConstantContact and more as well as giants such as Oracle have been already investing in capturing these channels. The alternative of going directly to the customers is not financially viable in the case of a small start-up company selling to the small and medium business(SMB). The complexity of the product will determine how long is the sale cycle, the onboarding process, and the need for Management Service Provider(MSP) participation. Considering whether the product should become a platform requires considering the implications on your go to market strategy like setting and governing the quality of the add-ons(certification) and pricing.
Here are some combinations to look at.
|Vendor Type||Billable Customer||IT Reasonability||Likely Exit Strategy||Product Strategy||Sales & Marketing Strategy|
|Startup||SMB||SMB owner||Building a cash cow – why sell?||Simple, limited functionality, self served||Online, inbound marketing|
|Large Enterprises||Corporate IT Department||M&A (sell to one of the big players: SAP, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft)||Perfecting one use case, or developing strong protected IP – proprietary algorithm||Direct sales. POC/paid pilot, partnering with other solutions.
B2B marketing: thought leadership, trade show.
|Young growing company||SMB(<;2000 employees)||MSP/VAR||Going up the market, or M&A through Vertical integration||Building Platform as Service (PaaS), OEM(embed other products)
Requires customization and integration with add-on
|Partner recruitment. Referral program.
Working with partner on developing strong value proposition and go to market strategies.
Sponsored conferences, Webinars.
|MB||MSP/VAR||IPO, M&A||Become mission critical||Ad above and recruit strategic partners|
|Large Enterprise developing SaaS||SMB||MSP/VAR||N/A||Medium complexity. Open API, web services, enabling value added services||Partner programs. Account executive to harvest strategic partners|
|Large Enterprises||Corporate IT Department||N/A||Hybrid between on premise and hosted||Direct sales, rebranding|
I’m sure that there are other combinations of vendor and customer types, product, sales and marketing strategies. However, some combinations could lead to successful outcome while other be disastrous!