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5 min read

SaaS Companies: How to Nail Product Validation and Avoid an Epic Faceplant!

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So, you've got a kick-ass company, a mind-blowing product, and even a few customers on board. But wait, why isn't your business taking off like a rocket? It's time to do some soul-searching and get to the bottom of customer pain points. Product validation is an ongoing process—not just an initial step—to ensure you are meeting a genuine need people are willing to invest in. And it starts with some serious dialogue with customers and prospects.

The Quest for Truth

In B2B, convincing people to open their wallets is no easy task. It becomes even more challenging because you have to cater to distinct personas, each with its own priorities.

On the one hand, you have the decision-maker who holds the purse strings and views the problem and solution through a financial lens. On the other hand, you have the end-user who values their time above all else. To achieve true product-market fit in B2B, you must strike a balance that satisfies both parties. Your product must make business sense to the budget-conscious decision-maker while also delivering a seamless experience that saves valuable time for the end user. It's a delicate dance that requires aligning the product and the overall user experience to meet the needs of both personas. 

To get there, you need to dive deep into both of their experiences. And you have many ways to do that, such as:

  • Conduct customer interviews: Set up interviews with your existing and potential customers to gain insights into their needs, pain points, and preferences.
  • Analyze customer data: Dive into your customer data, such as purchase history, feedback, and support interactions, to identify patterns and trends.
  • Utilize surveys and questionnaires: Create surveys or questionnaires to gather quantitative data on customer satisfaction, preferences, and opinions.
  • Monitor social media and online communities: Keep an eye on social media platforms, online forums, and industry-specific communities to listen to customer conversations and gather valuable feedback.
  • Engage in customer support interactions: Pay attention to customer support interactions to understand common pain points, frequently asked questions, and areas where customers seek assistance.
  • Participate in industry events and conferences: Attend relevant industry events, conferences, and trade shows to meet and engage with customers face-to-face, gaining first-hand insights.
  • Shadow and observe customers: Whenever possible, observe customers using your product or service in real-life situations to understand their behaviors and challenges.
  • Seek feedback and testimonials: Regularly ask for feedback from your customers and encourage them to provide testimonials or reviews, giving you valuable insights and social proof.

The Power of Customer Interviews

If a tree falls in a forest...

Companies that do well are ones that can clearly state, "We solve X problem" and then actually solve it. 

When an audience recognizes the solution to their significant problem within the words on your website, they will buy. Describing how your product solves a problem in the customer's language requires real world insight. If you cannot clearly do this—and sooo many SaaS companies run into trouble here—you need to come to grips with the fact that even if you have the best product ever, your customer will never know.  

To truly understand your customers' pain points, you must engage with them directly. Ask open-ended questions that explore their challenges and be prepared to delve into unexpected areas. Remember, the goal is to understand your customer's real point of view and to focus on real-life situations and practical solutions. 

For example, if you were exploring a customer's experiences with a task management software solution, you should:

  1. Ask them about their day-to-day experiences using the software. Inquire about specific instances where they struggled to organize their tasks effectively or encountered any limitations. Find out if they have implemented any workarounds or sought alternative solutions.
  2. Inquire about their recent interactions with customer support. Ask if they have encountered any challenges or frustrations when seeking assistance. Explore whether they have taken any proactive measures, such as utilizing self-help resources or joining user communities, to address their support needs.
  3. Discuss their experience with collaboration tools.  Find out if they have encountered difficulties sharing and collaborating on documents with colleagues or clients. Ask for concrete examples of pain points and any steps they have taken to overcome these challenges.

You can gain valuable insights into their needs and preferences by understanding specific pain points and their proactive actions to address them.

The Myth of "No Competition"

Part of the product market fit process is finding out about your competition. Think you don't have any? Think again. Many SaaS companies believe they have no competitors because they think of competition as software that does exactly what they do.

While there may not be direct competition, other software on the market may overlap with your offerings. Alternatively, customers and prospects may handle tasks manually or rely on tools such as spreadsheets, leading them to perceive your service as unnecessary and not worth paying for.

Questions to ask here include:

  1. How have you been doing this task?
  2. If this task didn't get done, what would be the impact?
  3. How much time does it take to do this task the way you're doing it now?

Win-Loss Analysis

Win-loss analysis interviews are your secret weapon against the competition. They not only help you uncover your product market fit but also assist you in finding the right pivot if needed. And by engaging with prospects who did not choose you, you gain valuable insights into where your offering falls short.

This step in the process sheds light on alternative solutions and competitors that might be influencing decision-making processes. It's best to have a product person or an executive ask, instead of a salesperson, to get a more honest answer. Ask questions like:  

  1. What key factors influenced your decision to choose our product over competitors?
  2. Were there any specific features or functionalities you found particularly valuable or lacking in our product?
  3. How well did our product align with your specific needs and goals?
  4. Were there any challenges or obstacles you encountered while using our product?
  5. Did our product meet your performance, reliability, and usability expectations?
  6. Did our product provide a clear and significant advantage compared to alternative solutions?
  7. Were there any aspects of our product that you found confusing or difficult to understand?
  8. How would you rate the overall value for money our product offers?
  9. Did our product help you achieve your desired outcomes or solve your pain points effectively?
  10. If you were to recommend our product to others, what would be the key selling points or benefits you would highlight?

By analyzing the responses and identifying patterns, you can make informed decisions and take action to improve product market fit.

Being Prepared to Pivot: SaaS Survival Tips

Obviously, it's best to avoid having to pivot, BUT the reality is that sometimes it's necessary. SaaS companies usually pivot for two main reasons: financial viability and market response. In such cases, a pivot becomes essential to find a new direction that resonates with the market.

Let's take a look at a real-world example—and we have many as we exclusively market for SaaS companies. We once had a SaaS business that developed some amazing AI technology, but they struggled to find a place to deploy it. They had good investors and did absolutely everything by the book, but they lacked real market validation.

Eventually, they pivoted into the product planning space, focusing on business strategy. Although they faced some challenges, they managed to stay afloat and adapt to the evolving needs of their customers. This example shows that pivoting, while daunting, can lead to survival and success.

There are plenty of other more famous examples:

  • Netflix used to MAIL videos!
  • Android was a photo-storing platform before it was a mobile phone OS!
  • YouTube was a dating app!

Don't be afraid if you have to depart from your origin, you need to lean into your customers to survive sometimes.

Learning from Failure and Building Resilience

Remember, failure is not the end of the world. Hundreds of companies go out of business each year because they run out of money, but the root cause is often a lack of product-market fit. By understanding your customers' pain points and continuously validating your product, you can avoid sinking into the abyss of irrelevance. Embrace lessons learned from failure, iterate, and keep striving to build something that truly solves your customers' problems.

The Never-Ending Quest

Our agency specializes in helping SaaS companies validate their products, engage with their customers and prospects, and outshine their competition. With our expertise, we will guide you in understanding your customers and leveraging market insights for exponential growth.  Contact us to learn more!

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