(This is a rough draft)
When I started Log(n) and SchoolMint, I had to learn everything about sales and marketing from the very basics. For the first few years of Log(n), most of our business came from word of mouth and thus I never ended up building a formal sales or a marketing team. That changed when I started SchoolMint. Even though a big portion of our new customers came from word of mouth, it was clear that Marketing and Sales were going to be very critical for us to create awareness of our offering and achieve the type of hyper-growth required to grow a venture-backed business. What I am going to cover here is my view on how to think about SAAS marketing/sales conceptually and following up with various tactics to make it a full-blown marketing and sales engine.
Once you have found the product-market fit and have a few customers that are actively using your product and paying for it, the next step is to really understand how many potential customers exist and various ways to convince them to buy your product. This prospect set includes:
- Customers who are facing the problem you are solving and have heard about you!
- Customers who are facing the problem you are solving and have not heard about you!
- Customers who are (“not yet” facing the problem you are solving, or don’t know that they are facing the problem) and have not heard about you!
The goal of Marketing is to help these customers who are in different stages of a purchase life cycle
a) Make them understand the problems they are facing
b) Show them ways to solve these problems using your product
c) And overall make them better at what they do by using your product and making them smarter by educating everything about their job.
This can be best visualized as a funnel.
This is the first phase at the top of the funnel. Here you are creating awareness about the problem they are facing and about the product for folks who either are facing the problem you are solving or haven’t faced the problem yet but will do so in the future. For you to create awareness, you need to connect with the customers where they are and bring them close to your brand so you can continue to increase their awareness. You do that by following tactics
- Word of mouth – using your existing customers as a channel
- Conferences – Going to conferences where you think your potential customers go to.
- Booth — Either get a booth
- Speaking Engagement – Or get a speaking engagement
- Just visit and attend – Attne
- Email Marketing – Get a list of customers and send them stuff that educates them on an ongoing basis
- Blog and Thought Leadership Articles – Write thought leadership articles about the topics that might be interesting to them.
- Brand – Build a strong brand (how ?)
- Partnerships – Partner with other businesses that already have a relationship with your potential customer. So when they are looking for a solution…
- Resellers – Partner with other businesses that are already selling to your potential customer
- SEO – Increase your search engine presence so whenever a potential customer is searching anything related to the problem you are solving, your website shows up
- Online Ads / SEM – Show online ads to these customers
- Comparision sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd – Add yoursel of software review sites
- Other Ads
- Podcasts – Be part of the podcasts
- Other Sites
Once the customers get to know about your brand and realize that they potentially have a problem that your product is solving, then the next step is to continue educating them about how your product solves the problem better than anyone else. In this phase, the customer is still not ready to jump in and buy your product. This could be because the problem isn’t really an acute pain for them or because they don’t have a budget to pay for it or for some other reason. Your job is to continue educating them, continue showing them how your other customers are solving the problem, continue showing how others are paying for it and what type of ROI they are getting — all of that without being too pushy.
Evaluation and Sales Phase
This is the final phase where the customers are in the market to buy a product like yours, ideally, they know about your brand and they have the budget to pay for the product and they want to buy the product soon as it’s acute pain. They might also be looking at your competitors or other similar product. In this case, your job is to really be a trusted partner in helping them make the best decision. Really understanding the pain point, mapping how your product solves those pain points for them, how your product solves it better than other competitors out there, and how customers will get the most value by buying your product.