Creating value for customers
Before generalizing markets, it’s important to focus on individual customers and how this SaaS product creates value for them through a focused value proposition.
In B2B SaaS, a customer is typically defined as an account (or business) that ultimately pays for the software. There are several roles within the business, including an advocate (internal champion), a purchaser (the person writing the check), and cohorts of users (people that login or interface with the software). Value is different for each role and should be defined separately.
Who are your most important customers?
This can seem quite complex when many parties are involved in the process of successfully generating value. For example, in a multi-sided platform like eBay, is the customer the seller of goods or the buyer? This matters when answering questions like “How do we prioritize features for the seller?”
We recommend defining customers only as the source of the funds into your bank account. If that’s from a fee on a transaction between two parties, it’s typically where the funds are coming from and other party is a partner or provider (or even the product itself). This doesn’t mean ignore them—just don’t treat them like a customer.
Getting specific for team alignment
After narrowing down specific problems and customers, we then define a specific prospect persona to guide outbound sales efforts and align product teams, including details like:
- Company size
- Department of purchaser
- Common product advocate roles
- Common user roles
- Unique traits of roles (time at company, specific buying event)
- Symptoms (signs of problem exists)
- Common problem exceptions (negative filters)
- Common channels (eg. influencers, email, LinkedIn)
These sales and product teams can then know which data in the system to analyze and build from, instead of all the data they have. We typically repeat this process several times for many different customer personas. It’s important to time-box efforts put into each persona and pivoting away from failed ones instead of infinitely diversifying, as too many will distract and confuse even the best-intentioned teams.