In case you’re somehow involved in a fledgling startup, you’re certainly confronted with a wide variety of challenges. One of them, probably the most crucial endeavor, is finding early adopters for your B2B SaaS startup. And that’s because trading in business terrain makes things much more complicated than you may have originally thought.
Early Adopters wanted
You’re probably familiar with the term. And you may have already familiarized yourself with a long list of articles on how to attract your early adopters; and how to convince them give your product a chance. However, there are some crucial differences in what makes earning a handful of B2B SaaS early adopters a really challenging undertaking.
Usually, discussions and articles are focused on getting early adopters for B2C solutions. The profiles of people who are usually eager to test/use a new product for personal purposes are thoroughly explained all over the web. Making this work for your own solution may sound quite trivial. Based on what you may find on this category of customers, they are waiting for new solutions to try out; plain and simple. Thus, you need only to find the right ones. Those who definitely need a new solution to a problem and are willing to test your product and invest some money, time and effort on. It sounds relatively easy, right? Well, it’s not.
The truth is, adopters of B2B solutions have nothing to do with those overzealous visionaries. They may be indifferent to the type of rush that urges one to be the first to use the next high-tech gadget, the moment it’s released.
What makes early adopters of B2B SaaS solutions so different?
They may make choices based the profile of B2C early adopters in their personal life. But, when it comes to their professional welfare, they will probably be more prudent and selective before they give your product a chance. Here’s why:
Exposing their business to risk
As we initially mentioned above, it’s all about business. The product or solution of choice is going to be used within a company. This reason alone, makes the decision and adoption of this new, probably not so fine-tuned product, quite risky. So, no matter what solution you’re offering to your potential customers out there, if it is going to be used for a company’s interests, it won’t be that easy for them to just say yes. Even more so when this solution puts their own business reputation at risk and leaves them out to dry, with respect to their own customers or partners.
Subscription to a SaaS entails commitment
When it comes to solutions offered as a service, it means that you and your potential customers are going to be working together based on a kind of long-term relationship, as business partners. And why is that a problem, you may ask? Well, here’s a thought:
Contrary to a tangible product, a service solution means that a customer’s business, once they adopt your solution, grows in parallel with yours. Especially if the solution contributes as a growth factor in and of itself. A one-off solution probably involves some financial risk, but a service your customers may build their businesses on, involves one too many risks.
Most of them are probably not even foreseeable. Why would any business want to gradually store their data on your SaaS platform? Why build their business on a software platform that will probably lead them to vendor lock-in situation? How can they rest assured that you and your startup be there the next day to update the system and support them, as needed? What of the wasted time, effort and money in case you decide to jump ship?
Can you win your early adopters’ heart?
Working towards business growth yourself, you should probably get in their shoes, perhaps try and understand what is it that will make them want to try your solution.
Walk a mile in their shoes
Vague as it may sound, that is the only way to increase the odds of getting your service …well, adopted, by your early adopters. So, most of the time, businesses of any type focus on these following criteria (and perhaps more) to decide whether to give you a chance to prove your worth, or not:
- Mitigating risks, not adding new ones, as mentioned above
- Increasing their revenue, as soon as possible; or at least in the long run. Offering a guarantee that your Software as a Service solution will help them work towards that goal, is of paramount importance to them.
- Reducing their costs: of course, most of the time SaaS solutions, compared to their enterprise equivalents, are much more cost-effective choices. But, again, that needs to be justified.
- Increasing their own customers’ satisfaction
- Increasing their own market share in whatever industry they’re looking into
These are some of their minimum criteria in their decision making process. Try and think of any additional aspects that may affect a business decision. Does your service add up to success, helping them achieve one (or all) of the their objectives? That’s what you need to test. Once you’ve develop the required insight, work towards that direction.
Think like an insider
Focusing on specific aspects of that specific industry, which are probably well defined in your product specification, won’t cut it. It is your positioning in the market and who you’re going to such extents to help solve a problem. Knowing your customer well is a great advantage. Especially when your segments are considerably different.
For example, in a corporate structure, the final decision of trying out a product or, more importantly, buying a product is made by different decision makers, depending on what this structure includes. You may need to get several people to buy in to your offering, before you can get them to blink.
“The person you want to sell to, is the person with the pain and/or the person with the money”.
Think about it; are you banging on the right door? That’s what you need to keep in mind, before you can close a deal.
The story of your team, your vision, are also important to your early adopters. Especially if you want to get them to give your solution a try. Knowing why you do what you do, understanding your mission, might contribute to their level of trust and eagerness to give it a shot. And even if you won’t admit it, you know it; at the end of the day, it’s all about trust.