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March 10, 2022

Self-service is the holy grail of SaaS. Everyone looks for the self-serve quest, but they are never found because you can’t hang unhappy customers out to dry or ruin your reputation.

These users provide revenue generation with zero marginal costs because your customers can find, try and buy from you — even if no one is actively selling to them.

But just because they have the ability to do it doesn’t mean they will. Some products are impossible for them to use on their own.

The Self Service SaaS Maturity Model

The end of my recent New Breed of B2B Buyer series introduced the concept that when a customer desires instant gratification but is blocked by purchasing complexity, then it’s time to call in your salesperson. The purchase barriers are informational and emotional. If either or both become too high for the buyer on their own, they won’t buy without assistance.

In the self-serve quest, the more experienced a customer is, the less likely they will be attracted by financial incentives. So when you’re first starting, and your customers don’t know about you yet, it’s important to have high base pay so they cannot just take their money elsewhere.

As the market matures, the proportion of experienced buyers increases. If you trust and understand your brand, experienced buyers will prefer it and you will be closer to self-service.

Increasing knowledge share reduces the emotional and informational complexity of buying your product. Click To Tweet

A strong brand reputation can eliminate buyer anxiety by reassuring them that you are a legitimate business, and eliminating the need for sellers to provide information about what your products do or how they are bought used.

Consider Google AdWords as an example: experienced buyers do not speak with anyone from Google but know everything they want to know without help. When this service first launched, there was always at least one person on staff who knew exactly how things worked.

Mindshare, Market Share, and Knowledge Share Drive Organic Growth

While most SaaS executives understand the basic marketing concept of brand awareness and are all about getting out the buzz (mindshare), far fewer understand that it is important to build knowledge share.

Building a deep understanding with your customer community is important in the battle for market share and self-service search. No one is buying from you if everyone has heard from you.

When a company first begins, it may compete with enterprise software because the SaaS startup is only targeting SMB segments that the larger companies cannot reach. However, as these startups mature and expand their customer base, competing becomes more difficult. This is because many of those customers have already been using an established product from another company.

A successful company will have a positive feedback loop between mindshare, market share, and knowledge shared in the self-serve quest.

The more people who know about your business, the greater their trust in you, which leads to higher sales numbers. Click To Tweet

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