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Bridging the gap between a SAAS product and customers, What would you recommend ?

I have a SAAS product that is almost complete and ready to market/sell to customers.

Customers are easy to find and the sales process in my mind is initiating contact (email/phone) with the customers, building the
sales pipeline and everything that follows. I was wondering what is the best way to get from point A to point B.

What are my options ?

a) Cofounder with marketing/sales experience ?
What are the pros and cons of this approach, will this work ?

b) contact a reseller ?
How does this work ?

Are there any other ways of approaching this ?

13 Replies

David Evans
1
0
David Evans Advisor
Fractional CTO and Investor
Is the sales process hypothetical or do you have customers? If you don't have customers yet, I'd suggest trying to find at least two yourself to understand the effort involved. If it really is that easy, giving up equity to a co-founder may not be the best option.

Lots of ways to set up channel partners, but before you can add one, you need to understand the sales process in order to to understand what you are asking of potential partners.
Pradeep Thomas
0
0
Pradeep Thomas Entrepreneur
Co-Founder/Product Developer at Thinktag Ltd
The sales process is purely hypothetical so I'm assuming in theory the cofounder would bring the expertise needed to sell the product.

However if there is a ready made solution of dropping the details of the product on a channel website and supporting the technical aspects
of the sale that would be probably be preferable as opposed to working with a co-founder (because it seems to be an easier/simpler option). This option however may not bring the desired results I suspect.

David Evans
3
0
David Evans Advisor
Fractional CTO and Investor
There are very few ready-made solutions to sell anything. You need to have a target customer profile and messaging suited to that audience.

So, in that same vein, I'd reiterate the need to try to find the first customer. Before giving away equity, which is incredibly expensive in the log run, you need to know what type of sale you have. Is it institutional? Is it a long or short cycle? Is is just a mass marketing exercise? Questions like these will shape the type of co-founder you are looking for.
Obonyo Odhiambo
0
0
Obonyo Odhiambo Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at Tech Garage
Hi Pradeed, What is the core function of the SaaS? 1. Is it a sales management solution? 2. is it a customer acquisition solution? If 2 then I would be interested, there is an industry ready for a solution that can be modeled into a customer acquisition framework (note it should be very agile, mobile, PC, POS) Le me know.
Christoph Ranaweera
0
0
Christoph Ranaweera Entrepreneur • Advisor
Product Lead
the usuall answer is that it depends on the product but you can pretty sure exclude b no matter what the product is.
This is coz you need to give the reseller the motivation to promote your product more than others, normally - if your product is one of a few or many this will be difficult.

Find a sales co-founder who has experience in that particular field, he can as well give you the insight into the market
Though you should have a few testing customers before you start big sales activities.

And regarding co-founder in general: don't bother about giving away relevant amount your company shares. If you have full trust in the person capabilities and ideally network then you should be fair on not try to get him as low as possible (in many cases co-founder teams break up if the shares distributed differ very much and if it does not mirror effort and responsibility).
100% of nothing is worse than 1% of 50 million
Peter Geisheker
1
0
Peter Geisheker Entrepreneur
Digital Marketing Director - B2B Marketing - SaaS Marketing - Seeking a Digital Marketing Position
David is correct. You need to try and acquire some customers yourself to understand your sales cycle and the complexity involved in it.

A question I have is, what is the price point for your SaaS? Are you selling a high-end and expensive solution that will require a sales person to be involved to make the sale or are you selling something that is fairly inexpensive where businesses will just signup on your website and pay their monthly fees with their credit card?

If your solution is low cost and businesses will just signup at your website (make sure to offer a free trial), then what you need to do is hire an experienced SaaS marketing expert instead of a salesperson.

If you want more info on how to create an Internet marketing sales funnel, I wrote an ebook you can download for free and no you do not have to signup for my email list or anything. Just click the button on that page to download my ebook as a pdf. Here is the URL to download my ebook:

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Peter Geisheker


Theresa Marcroft
1
2
Theresa Marcroft Entrepreneur
Marketing Strategist / CMO / Interim VP Marketing
Hello Pradeep,

It's time to bring on your VP Marketing or CMO.

Typical early-stage marketing that person would do would include:

-Definition of your target customers, clearly outlining each group of target customers and the 'buyer persona' of each;
-Review of your offering and the benefits you offer your target customers;
-Assessment of competitive solutions, outlining your strengths and weaknesses vis a vis other solutions;
-Development of your unique value proposition;
-Crafting of a messaging hierarchy, both highest level summary points and lower level supporting points;
-Determine what makes a qualified lead for your offering and then create a comprehensive lead generation plan to bring in leads that meet those criterion.
I would suggest that these steps need to come before hiring resellers as they do not usually have the motivation to position and market your product before they can sell.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss.

Theresa Marcroft, Interim CM, MarketSavvy
Tele: (408) 656.1876
Web: www.Market-Savvy.com
Email: [removed to protect privacy]

Find me on LinkedIn


Tim Wat
1
0
Tim Wat Advisor
Adjunct Professor at California State University, East Bay
I would concur with David's line of reasoning and advice.

Different target markets require distinct engagement approaches, distinct experience / skills. I would also caution against bringing on a co-founder primarily to approach / secure distribution channels.

Presuming you've confirmed your value proposition and target market via Customer Discovery (you've spent time with potential customers making sure you're solving actual, real pain), it sounds like your channels options presuppositions are ready to be tested - and I'd suggest that the founder(s) are often the best folks to test these hypotheses, learn from initial customers, and secure the first sales.

Katie Curtin-Mestre
0
0
Katie Curtin-Mestre Entrepreneur
B2B Tech Marketing Executive
It really depends on the nature of your product. Do you plan to sell your product via an eCommerce platform or does it require interaction with a sales person? If the latter, does your product lend itself to telesales or does it require F2F meetings with prospects? On the reseller front, in the early days of a product, most resellers expect the vendor to do the heavy-lifting in terms of finding and closing opportunities. Hope this helps!
Brendon Whateley
2
0
Founder at Kugadi
My experience is that NOTHING is that easy to sell. Hopefully, you have been working with several paying customers already to get to this point. Until you have several customers paying for the solution, you have no real evidence that anybody needs to solve the problem badly enough to hand over money!

Regardless of how you got to where you are now (i.e. if you didn't know you should have customers before you wrote the first line of code!) then I completely agree with others, go out and get a few customers yourself. If you are right and the product is spot on, and you prove that you can sell it rapidly. At that point, you don't need a co-founder, just a sales team. You can then start building that out yourself and hire a VP of sales who has been successful in other ventures at the same size.
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