SaaS Go-to-Market Strategy

You've been toying with an idea for a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for months, but you're not sure what the next step should be. Friends tell you to just go for it. After all, "if you build it, they will come." Your family is more reserved, suggesting that you shouldn't quit your day job. It's too risky. Some colleagues think you need a business plan first, but who has the time to put that together?

You know your family is correct. Starting a business is risky. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, about 20% of U.S. small businesses do not survive their first year. By the fifth year, half of all businesses have failed. At ten years, only 33% are still in business. The primary reason for business failure is cash flow. Over 80% of small businesses believe they failed because of problems with cash flow.      

The truth is a lack of funds is a symptom of more fundamental flaws. Many entrepreneurs if the idea is good that buyers flocking to purchase their products. What they don't realize is that a business has to have a plan to get people to buy. No one is going to look at a product if they don't know it exists. That's why SaaS businesses need a go-to-market (GTM) strategy.    

SaaS Marketing Strategies Aren't Just Any Old Marketing    

A SaaS go-to-market strategy is not the same as just any old marketing strategy. A GTM is a tactical action plan that outlines the steps necessary to succeed in a new market or with a new customer. It is product-focused and requires explaining something technical in a way that goes beyond features and functionality of the product. You need to build a marketing plan that grows and maintain brand identity and loyalty. A B2B SaaS go-to-market strategy is a framework for establishing a SaaS solution in a the market for a specific type of customer persona.    

This framework helps startups choose a direction, tailor their marketing efforts, and measure their pipeline growth and revenue as progress. These SaaS marketing strategies identify the obstacles that are hampering a new company's success, so they can be addressed before they become showstoppers. It helps the realize wheather or not they are event building the right product. The right SaaS go-to-market strategy for startups presents the best approach for the successful penetration of a market and proper allocation of resources. A GTM strategy should identify the opportunity in the market, their customers pain points, product features tied to the solution to their problems, and a detailed distribution strategy that serves as an action plan for their growth.    

Go To Market Strategy Example    

Sometimes the best examples don't come from doing it right the first time. Upscope is an example of a SaaS company that learned how the right B2B go-to-market strategy can shorten the path to success. Upscope is a London-based online interactive screen-sharing service that targeted technical support specialists, onboarding agents, and customer service teams. The company didn't target the average user, but organizations that could benefit from having all parties working off of a shared screen.    

Upscope understood the pain that comes with screen sharing in a business environment. There's always one user who isn't savvy enough, so it takes forever to get the software working. In addition, latency can be an issue creating confusion for all parties. These factors lead to a frustrating experience for all those involved. Easing that pain point seemed an easy sell.    

Sales Strategy #1    

What Upscope didn't understand was the corporate buying process. Had the company followed a go-to-market strategy example, it would have analyzed the buying cycle for faster close times. In large companies, the individual who first stumbles across a product may not even be a user of the solutioon. Instead of a quick progression from interest to sale, the sales process can travel through six or more layers of management before approval is received.    

The long sales cycle that comes with B2B selling can be a contributor to company failure. Since the majority of businesses fail because of cash flow problems, not accounting for a lengthy sales cycle can be the cause of the financial shortfall. Pardeep Kuller, co-founder of Upscope, pointed out, an incorrect GTM strategy can mean years of slow growth because of incorrect pricing, poor marketing channels, and unrealistic sales processes.    

Sales Strategy #2    

Before spending time and money refining a product behind closed doors, SaaS startups need to spend time with potential customers learning what is important to them. They should consider a minimum viable product (MVP) approach that can elicit customer feedback for product improvement before a single item is sold. This approach is a SaaS go to market strategy example.    

As Egan Montgomery of High Alpha points out, selling before you have a product is the best way to marry your product and vision with market wants and needs. It is also how to mitigate risk by building a better product. Using Montgomery's B2B go-to-market strategy example, SaaS companies can find their product fit while still building the product.    

Go to Market Strategy Framework    

Go-to-market strategy frameworks are real or conceptual structures that serve as a guide for creating a go-to-market strategy. It doesn't matter what go-to-market strategy framework template is used. What is important is that the following information is present:

  • Define a value proposition. What pain points is your SaaS solution trying to address? How is your value proposition different from others in your market niche?
  • Create messaging for pain points. What message do you want customers to retain about your product's ability to address their issues? The messaging needs to be clear, consistent, and tie back to the value propositions.
  • Identify all buying personas. In a B2B market, buying is a multi-layered affair. Knowing what each persona in the cycle needs ensures that the information is readily available.  
  • Understand the buyer’s journey. Someone in an organization is championing your solution. You must provide the resources the person needs to traverse the company's sales process.
  • Choose a marketing strategy. Your target customer has to know your product exists. How do you plan to create that awareness? What channels will you use to deliver your messaging? 
  • Choose a sales strategy. How do you plan to sell your product? Most B2B companies want some type of salesperson relationship. They want a resource to rely on when it comes to presenting technical solutions to larger corporate audiences.
  • Set pricing. Determine your pricing models. Will you use subscription services? Will you have defined subscription lengths? What will be the service agreement terms?
  • Decide what you want to track. Develop key performance indicators and other metrics to help determine how well your plan is working. If you don't know ahead of time what data to collect, it may not be there when you need it.

The trick to a good GTM framework is focus. The more targeted the framework, the more clarity there will be for all involved.    

Go To Market Checklist    

After drafting a strategy, use the following go to market plan checklist to ensure that you have not forgotten to include crucial pieces of information.

  • Identify Your Target Market. The business world is quite large so saying your market is B2B doesn't narrow the field of potential clients. Every industry has unique requirements that may not translate across market segments. Determine the markets that best fit your value proposition.
  • Know Your Target Customers. It's possible that your SaaS solution will cross-market lines. In those instances, the customers in those markets need to share the same pain points. 
  • Understand Your Brand Position. How does your brand fit into the existing market? Is it competing with similar products? What differentiates your solution?
  • Define Your Unique Value Proposition. What value does your solution bring to the company? How does it help improve operations, reduce costs, or expedite digital transformation?
  • Select Your Marketing Channels. Are you using a website, social media, email, or direct mail? These channels need to be defined with clear expectations to ensure a return on investment.
  • Set Your Budget. What financial resources do you have available? How will they be used? How will you counter cashflow concerns?
  • Outline Your Sales Strategy. With B2B markets, how do you plan to deliver the personalized service many clients expect? Do you want your sales staff to be on customer's speed dial?
  • Put Together Your Marketing Strategy. Finally, with all this information, you are ready to pull together a marketing strategy that will get your product to market as quickly as possible.

Making sure your strategy has these essential steps can help move your product to market faster.    

Go To Market Strategy for Startups    

Startups have choices. They can spend hours building a product that no one wants, or they can use their investment dollars in perfect the solution before going to market. The best SaaS go to market strategy for 2021 is one used at High Alpha.    

As a venture studio that conceives, launches and scales B2B SaaS companies, our go-to-market strategy is focused on putting the solution before potential clients as soon as possible. We suggest that entrepreneurs begin selling their product before it's a product. Instead of spending time and money -- that are always in short supply -- startups should focus on a minimum viable product that can be used to start conversations with potential clients. Our approach considers a MVP as a way to collect information on what is and isn't essential to the end-user. We also promote developing partnerships with early clients as a means to strengthen your product offering and to acquire additional customers.

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