98. How to Create a New SaaS Product

Welcome back to another episode of Monetization Nation with Justin Rondeau. In the first episode, we discussed the tectonic shift of Software as a Service (SaaS) and why businesses are shifting towards it.

In today’s episode, I asked Justin to talk me through his top secrets and strategies we should know when creating a new SaaS product. Here are three tips he shared:

1. Know the Problem

In order to begin creating a new SaaS product, we first need to determine what problem our product will solve for our audience.

Before developing a new product, Justin always asks, “Why are we doing this? What’s the very specific problem we’re trying to solve by developing this product?”

Once we have determined the purpose of our product, and the problem we’re trying to solve, we can move on to the next step.

“Be very intentional about what you’re trying to build, what you’re trying to solve, and make sure you are certain that you have access to the audience that you’re trying to solve those problems for,” Justin said.

2. Have Access to Our Audience and Get Their Feedback

After we have found a central purpose for our software, we need to make sure we have access to an audience who would actually buy it. We need to build demand before we create a code.

“Do you have any visibility in the space that you’re trying to provide value in? Do you own the media and some of that space or are you starting completely from scratch?” Justin asked.

We can begin by offering free value to our customers in order to get a feel for what they want and like. Create a website. Create social media accounts. We should start building our audience even before we launch our software product.

“If I were to do anything over again . . . I wouldn’t even start developing the tool yet [until] I started building up a content site or a media site to build an audience of people who would be interested in the tool I’d want to sell in about a year,” Justin said. “Once you have that list of people, you are able to work with them.”

Before we officially launch our product, we should start with a trial. We can do a walk-through with somebody and make sure it is simple and easy to use.

“Right at launch of something, regardless of the price point of the product, what you need to be doing is one-on-one onboarding with people, even if it’s dead simple, and walk them through it, because that’s going to give you conversations with the customer . . . to see what you missed.”

Once we get feedback from a couple of different people and make the necessary revisions, our product is ready to be initially launched and tested. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be launched. In fact, when we get our software out to customers sooner and get their feedback on how to improve it, that will help us to build much better software than if we were trying to build it in a vacuum without client feedback.

“Get constant feedback. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone with people; don’t be afraid to do anything. If you’re not willing to jump on calls and do demos, you’re in the wrong business,” Justin explained.

3. Keep it Simple

As we are building our product, we need to remember to keep it simple.

There is a power in simplicity. If we are willing to take the time to make our product simple, the adoption curve will go a lot faster. What are the features our audience is actually going to use?

Our product should be understood without a manual. If we have to really explain how to use it to our customers, we’ve failed. This is why implementing a walk-through is so important. It gives our customers a chance to show us what is missing. That is where we’re going to get our main breakthroughs. We need to have an onboarding process in the early stages.

“Keep it simple, stay on point, and avoid scope creep at all costs,” Justin said.

Scope creep means adding additional features to a new product that go beyond the agreed-upon scope (Source: Project Management Institute).

Sometimes we try to build our software with every single feature we can think of, but we don’t realize our audience is only going to use about 20% of those features. By adding five times as much as they really need, we add an unnecessary and counter-productive level of complexity.

Disciplining ourselves to really identify the 20% of the features that our clients are actually going to use can help the development, growth, and profitability of our product.

Additional Tips

In addition to the three steps above, Justin gave me some extra tips to take into consideration when building a new SaaS product.

He explained that we need to create a solid hand-off process between development and product. We should create milestones and have a unified definition of what “done” is.

If we do this, the process will run much smoother as we have better communication with our teams.

We also need to be aware of how the market is changing. The SaaS market is becoming much more saturated. Because of this, it may be harder to get customers to subscribe.

“I’ve been finding a lot that people just don’t want another subscription. So one of the things I’ve been doing is trying to find . . . those nuggets of things that could almost stand alone by themselves,” Justin said.

Instead of offering a single SaaS product, Justin makes sure to provide more value. He created additional products his customers could purchase for a flat fee — without a subscription. This was the first step in his marketing funnel. Once a customer entered the funnel — bought a product, he implemented a follow-up sequence. He offers them more. If they want full access to even more products that would help them, they simply need to buy a subscription.

“We’re front-ending simpler pieces of technology, and then back-ending the larger subscription. That’s been wildly effective for us, and that’s what I’ve been starting to look at,” Justin explained. “How do we create these more hyper-focused single applications that work within our tech stack that we could then use to upsell later into a subscription? I think that’s going to be more of a movement. You’re going to see more people start creating one-off payment applications that then funnel into the overarching SaaS company or SaaS product they’re looking at.”

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Justin for sharing your knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. We should start building an audience even before we build our product. The most important thing to do to have a successful SaaS product is to have a following of targeted customers who know, like, and trust us before we launch our SaaS product.

2. Before we begin developing a new SaaS product, we need to know the problem that the product will solve.

3. We should create a demo or walk-through of our product and get customer feedback before we officially launch it.

4. We need to keep our product simple and avoid adding additional features that aren’t essential.

5. As the market is changing, it may be smart to offer hyper-focused, single applications that customers can purchase for a one-time fee. These hyper-focused products can then be used to up-sell later into a subscription.

Connect with Justin

If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Justin or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn, email him at justin@scalable.com or find out more about his company at Scalable.com.

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