- Athina Mallis
Top tips for Cloud and SaaS vendors to stand out from the crowd
There are more than 15,000 SaaS vendors globally and that number is only increasing. With that in mind, brands need to think about being 'better' than their competitors instead of being 'different,' according to best-selling author and commercial software strategist Stewart Marshall, also known as 'Mr SaaS.'
Speaking with AZK Media Founder and Managing Partner, Azadeh Williams, Marshall says because there is so much noise out in the market vendors need to focus on 'being better.'
"Anybody can be different, every platform is different and by all being different they're all the same - that's the harsh reality, you have to be better," he says.
Marshall also mentions vendors need to produce engaging content that will appeal to the emotional side of a consumer. He explains while it is software, people buy with their heart, so understanding and empathising with your client is absolutely critical.
"One of the biggest challenges for vendors is the space right now is competition," he adds. "There are tens of thousands of vendors in the market meaning there is an overwhelming amount of choice for clients."
Customer retention in a crowded marketplace
Marshall says the biggest thing vendors have to focus on at the moment is making sure they don't lose customers.
"One of the bigger problems I see typically with vendors is they go to the market, the people they try and talk to are the wrong customers, the wrong prospects.
"They're a loose-ish fit and they invest in those, they get them in the funnels, they get them through, they get a purchase and then they don't really quite fit. This for me is about finding the right ones, finding quality," he said.
For many cloud and SaaS providers, customer retention and trust is top of mind, but how do they achieve that with all the competition? Marshall says it goes back to thinking about customer experience beyond the sale.
Marshall explains, "I talk about the "bye" in "buy" when you get vendors, they come along, somebody buys and they say 'bye thanks for your money!' We have to be better than that."
"We've got to now look at how we improve service quality and make sure that we engage with customers regularly. This is not just an occasional marketing email. This is about actively engaging, investing in evangelism, making sure the customers are really engaged in the product given every chance to really maximise their value."
The power of customer advocacy
Azadeh Williams adds what she's finding with clients is that building customer advocacy is critical in demonstrating that value-add, and that SaaS and cloud vendors often overlook the power and potential of exceptional customer stories in their marketing mix.
"It's important now, more than ever, to ensure your customers are your champions and that you're sharing the right use cases across the right verticals with prospects," she explains. The customer stories can not only help support demand gen initiatives, but also lead gen tactics and support sales in their conversations and engagement with prospects."
"But many SaaS vendors undervalue the power of a customer advocacy program, or put it in the 'too hard basket.' That's why it's really important to partner with the right experts in the field, like AZK Media, that can help remove any bottlenecks and open the channels to building and scaling customer advocacy.
Marshall agrees, noting, "We see that at the moment, businesses are bunkering down, when really what they need to be doing is reaching out to the client base and really engaging with them at every opportunity and looking to build quality into their system."
He says this could be a sales system or marketing, but no matter what - brands need to get some value from their efforts, so when the lights come back on there will still be money to spend.
Key takeaways for growing your SaaS + Cloud business:
There are three tips for vendors that they should consider doing as a matter of priority, according to Marshall:
1. Invest in quality: "Do anything to position yourself today, to get ready for tomorrow."
2. Get rid of anything that's costing you money that you don't need today: "That might be some of your really crappy customers. If they're in the way, costing you time, energy and effort, then they are not the ones you are wanting to be dealing with."
3. Look at the market and see who you're up against: "Work out how you can be better. Don't be different, just better.
This article was written by AZK Media's Content and Communications Specialist, Athina Mallis