No one said startup life would be easy, but it’s all been worth it because you did it. You finally received funding!
And now you’re wondering — what comes next?
You certainly should indeed celebrate, you made it! But getting funding is not the apex of your startup journey. Securing funding is just the first step to launching a successful startup that grows into a stable and profitable SaaS company.
Securing funding is only the first step in launching a successful startup that grows into a stable and profitable SaaS company. You’ll need to prove your ability to generate sales with the funding you received. Or, at a minimum, you’ll have to present a detailed and compelling strategic plan to convince investors you’re worth their time.
To make your business successful, you’ll need to have a predictable and reliable method of landing new customers and managing the growing pains as you scale.
We've outlined four steps below to show you how to align your SaaS product with your customer’s desire to boost sales.Quick Note: As a Digital Marketer Certified Partner, we utilize many of their tools in our recommendations throughout this presentation. Contact Us to find out more about how we can help you utilize these industry-leading tools to grow your business.
Know Your Customer & Their Buying Triggers
Many new business owners think they have a good grasp of who their ideal customers are and how to get them to buy, but they're often off base. Or, if they do have a good idea of who their target audience is, they don’t know enough about them to get their attention.
To solve this problem, create a customer avatar for each of the types of people you think are your ideal customers — such as moms, entrepreneurs, doctors, etc.
What is a Customer Avatar?
A customer avatar is comparable to creating a character inside of a role-playing video game (RPG). When playing an RPG, like Final Fantasy 14, you’ll get to choose the species, gender, physical traits, skills, and other attributes of your character.
Most gamers tend to create characters who resemble themselves or other people that they know. Creating a customer avatar is just like creating a video game character in this way.
How to Create a Customer Avatar
To create a customer avatar, we use the Customer Avatar Worksheet to answer the following:
- What are your ideal customers’ goals and values?
- What sources do they frequently access to find information?
- What is their demographic information?
- What challenges do they face?
- What pain points do they have?
- What objections would they have that would prevent them from purchasing your SaaS product?
Customer Avatar Example: Meet Business Owner Amy
Imagine that you sell a project management software that helps someone outline project steps while setting and monitoring deadlines. Think about who would make a good fit for your product.
Some of the ideal customers you could target that would benefit the most from your software include:
- Solopreneurs or Business Owners leading a small team of people
- Project Managers who work inside of other organizations or who freelance and take on their own clients
- Busy parents looking to manage their household more efficiently by delegating chores and household tasks to members of their family or roommates
- College students looking for ways to manage their assignments and keep track of important due dates and test dates
Out of all these avatars, the ones who would be the best fit and easiest to land as customers would be solopreneurs or business owners. Why? Because they’re the decision-makers when it comes to purchasing new software solutions, and they can profit from time saved using your product.
Now that we know who we’re targeting, we can dive into more detail to better understand what makes them tick. For this example, we’ll call out avatar Business Owner Amy.
Business Owner Amy is the founder and CEO of her own marketing agency, and she manages a small team of 10-15 employees or contractors.
Amy’s Goals & Values
Amy wants to:
- Streamline workflow so she can get more accomplished in less time while using fewer resources
- Delegate work to her team more effectively, so they always know what’s expected and what to do
- Refine and tweak business processes to save time and reduce problems
Amy is committed to:
- Professional development
- Providing value for her clients
- Using “white hat” marketing strategies and tactics
Sources Amy Uses For Information
- Private Facebook Groups for Marketers
- Private LinkedIn Groups for Marketers
- Mastermind Groups for Marketers
- Online Courses
- Gurus She Follows
- Conferences and Expos
- Name: Business Owner Amy
- Age: 40
- Gender: Female
- Marital Status: Married
- # and Age of Children: 2 ages 4 & 11
- Location: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Quote: “I surround myself with people who’re smarter than me.”
- Occupation: Digital Marketing
- Job Title: CEO/Founder
- Annual Income: $150,000
- Level of Education: College Graduate
Amy’s Challenges & Pain Points
- Scaling her agency
- Attracting and retaining top talent
- Stay updated on the latest trends in the industry
- Fear of losing business to her competitors
- Fear of her agency falling behind because she spends too much time working on and not in her business
- Will your project management software actually make my workflow faster?
- Is there a huge learning curve to using it?
- How easy is it to implement and train a team to use?
- Does it have all the necessary functionality and features I need?
Follow this example to give you inspiration and ideas for filling out your own Customer Avatar Worksheet. Make sure you fill out a new worksheet for every avatar your business targets but only focus on attracting one avatar at a time.
Step #2: Create a Transformation for Your Customers
Now that you know who your ideal customers are and what makes them tick, it’s time to seek some clarity on how your SaaS product will take them through a customer transformation journey.
What is Customer Transformation?
Customer transformation is the process of taking your customers from an undesirable “BEFORE” state to a more desirable “AFTER” state through the use of your product. This process involves solving some kind of problem or helping them prevent problems from occurring in the first place with your product’s help.
How to Create a Customer Transformation
The 10-question “Before & After” Grid helps you find out how your SaaS product changes your customers’ lives for the better. Here’s an example of what this Before & After Grid looks like:
To fill out a Before & After Grid, ask yourself these ten questions:
- What do your ideal customers have in the before state?
- What do they have in the after state?
- How do they feel in the before state?
- How do they feel in the after state?
- What does an average day in the before state look like?
- What does an average day in the after state look like?
- What is their status in the before state?
- What is their status in the after state?
- What pain points are tormenting them in the before state?
- How does your product solve their pain?
Before & After Grid Example: Business Owner Amy
Here’s an example of what a Before & After Grid would look like for our example avatar, Business Owner Amy:
Step #3: Build a Path from Education to Conversion
After you’ve completed the Before & After Grid for each avatar you’re planning to target, you can plot out their Customer Value Journey.
What is a Customer Value Journey (CVJ)?
The Customer Value Journey is the steps your customers take from when they become aware of your brand to the time they start promoting your brand to others. The tools & tactics you deploy should help your ideal customers move along the steps of the Customer Value Journey.
The Customer Value Journey strategically builds a relationship with new prospects and converts them into loyal, repeat customers. It's about turning strangers into superfans.
No one finishes the journey when left to themselves. Customers get lost along the way, stall out, or forget they ever started on a path with your brand. So you need to create a strategy to walk people through all eight steps, so you can give them a boost when they get stuck and encourage them every step of the way.
How to Create a Customer Value Journey (CVJ)
The Customer Value Journey is a tool that helps you plot out the steps in your customer’s journey. Here’s an example of what this worksheet looks like:
The eight stages of the Customer Value Journey are:
- Aware: potential customers learn that your brand exists
- Engage: they engage with your brand through social media or your blog
- Subscribe: they sign up for your email newsletter to receive gated content
- Convert: they want to make a small purchase or schedule a demo of your product
- Excite: they’ve gotten value from their first transaction with your brand
- Ascend: they purchase additional products or upsells from your brand
- Advocate: they provide a testimonial or material for a case study
- Promote: they tell others about their experience with your brand and recommend your product
For each step of the Customer Value Journey, you’ll need to think through the resources you’ll need to have or create to guide your customers from one step to the next and what actions you’ll need to take to put your new strategy into action.
Customer Value Journey Example (CVJ): Business Owner Amy
The following is an example of a completed Customer Value Journey worksheet for our example avatar, Business Owner Amy:
Step #4: Establish a Process for Continuous Improvement
It’s not enough to clarify your customers and plot out your strategy. You’ll also need to establish a process for continuous improvement, so your business never goes stagnant. To do this, we recommend using the growth triad framework created by Ryan Deiss.
What is the Growth Triad Framework?
The growth triad framework outlines the three main things your SaaS business has to have in order to achieve repeatable and profitable growth over the long term. The three components of the growth triad include:
- A documented strategy: you get this by completing the CVJ worksheet
- Actionable metrics: use the growth scorecard to determine what metrics to track and color-code items that need your attention or not
- Tools & tactics: social media pages and groups, your website, an email newsletter, or other resources you need to implement your chosen strategy
Business owners often find that they have one or two of these components, but not all 3 — resulting in a few common problems that stunt their business’s growth.
No Tools & Tactics
Stuck in the mud: they have an idea, a strategy, and metrics to track, but they don’t have the tools & tactics required to bring their vision to life.
No Actionable Metrics
Bull in a china shop: they have an idea, a strategy, and the necessary tools & tactics, but they have no idea what’s working and what’s not — causing them to divide their efforts by attacking all fronts at once.
No Documented Strategy
One hit wonder: they have tools & tactics to use and metrics to track, but their efforts are disjointed and not as effective because they’re participating in “random acts of marketing” vs. having a pre-planned strategy.
How to Use the Growth Triad Framework
To use the growth triad framework, think about what components you already have and which ones you don’t. Depending on where you’re lacking, that’ll show you where you need to focus on improvement to get all three components set up and functioning optimally.
Build Your Marketing & Sales Foundation
Sure, you can read through all the information we provided and attempt to implement the teachings yourself. But, we’ve found that it’s often easier to learn the theory behind something than it is to actually put that theory into practice.
That’s why we created our 3-hour marketing boot camp — to guide you through the process of:
- Developing a dedicated customer avatar with a Before and After Grid
- Mapping out your Customer Value Journey
- Highlighting your current bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement