No, this isn’t a post about feature creep. It’s a post about the features you’ll need to line up in order to make your Software as a Service (SaaS) business a success.
SaaS is becoming more competitive each year. As competitivity increases, it becomes harder to convert and retain customers. In 2019, successful products need to make these 3 features work to win:
1. The Differentiator
The differentiator is the feature that convinces customers to adopt your product; it’s your shoe-in. It moves the prospect from consideration to action.
To overcome the status quo and justify the time, money and attention investment spent on a new solution, your product needs to differentiate from the current technology being used and bring the promise of a 10X return on investment.
As marketing density continues to increase, freemium or some form of free trial is becoming the norm. It helps lessen the cost (or commitment) of trying something new. If your differentiator delivers value, the customer will adopt..
2. The Exciter
The exciter typically builds on some kind of limitation with your initial feature set. The exciter is the feature that drives that initial decision to “upgrade”.
The reasons why customers buy are often different from the reasons why they stick around. The customer might have bought your chat solution because of its search functionalities, but ends up embedding the solution because of its ease of use or your amazing analytics. Exciters get you that initial conversion. They might not drive retention.
3. The Expander
The expander is the feature that helps cement the customer relationship. It’s what drives retention and gets the customer to switch from a one-time purchase to a multi-month (or multi-year) engagement with your product.
This feature can drive some form of lock-in through increased user engagement, growth in the number of user accounts or internal teams using the product. It’s the feature that confirms and justifies the buying decision (e.g. a chat that integrates with all the other products used!); it solidifies the decision to commit long term.
What Your Product Needs
The same feature might play all 3 roles for your product. If that’s the case, the path forward is pretty clear: continuously make your « core » offering better and integrate.
However, most businesses will have different features play the roles of the differentiator, the exciter and the expander.
- Without a differentiator, you’ll have a hard time attracting customer interest.
- Without an exciter, you’ll have a hard time convincing users to buy.
- Without an expander, you’ll have a hard time expanding the duration or depth of the relationship.
Now, what features will play these roles for your product? Have you tested those assumptions?
More on Product Needs
- How Much Time Do You Need to Get to Product-Market Fit in B2B?
- Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want (Course)
- How to Truly Validate Your Product in B2B Customer Development
⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. It covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »
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