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The 10 Essential SaaS Growth Strategies

Enable Self Service

Introduction

For every successful SaaS company that has grown over 50% year over year — including such well-known companies as Zendesk, Box, Hubspot, and New Relic — there are thousands of startups that have failed.

In fact, according to a recent McKinsey study Grow Fast or Die Slow,

If a software company grows less than 20% annually, there is a 92% chance of failure.

McKinsey, Grow Fast or Die Slow

When you’re a startup, it’s fairly easy to double revenues in a month (for example, going from $10K to $20K). As you start to grow, you can expect to double revenue in a quarter, then in a year. But as you get larger, it’s very, very difficult to double your revenues in these same time frames — after all, how many companies grow from $50M to $100M in one month?

So how can SaaS companies grow, grow fast, grow efficiently, and keep growing?

In working with hundreds of SaaS companies, we’ve learned that the solution to sustaining a high growth rate is to diversify your approach to growth and embrace multiple growth strategies.

We’ve boiled it down to the top 10 essential growth strategies: this article highlights the sixth – Enable Self Service.  

Enable Self Service

While there’s a lot of emphasis on SaaS startups moving upmarket from self-service sales to a sales-assisted model, that isn’t the only path.

Successful, mature SaaS companies generally use some sort of hybrid sales model in which they embrace self-service, transactional, and enterprise sales.

Self-service sales, with their lower price points and shorter sales cycles, are a growth strategy unto themselves. What you lose in deal size, you make up for with sheer volume (not to mention upsell opportunities). 

To deploy a self-service sales strategy, you need to simplify. Your customer needs to be able to easily find, understand, try, buy, use, and pay for your product.

Towards this end, the key to successful self-service sales is to have fully automated systems to manage customer acquisition, onboarding, billing, payment, and account management. These automated systems eliminate the need for sales support which translates into a lower CAC (customer acquisition cost), relative to the ASP (average selling price) for a new customer. 

STAR EXAMPLE: DOCUSIGN

DocuSign, a trusted esignature solution, employs self-service sales to bring on new customers and capture the lower end of the market, with more than 130,000 new users joining the DocuSign Global Network every day.

For most of their plans — Personal, Standard, and Business Pro — customers can sign up right from their website. Only their Advanced Solutions requires sales support. Their Personal version serves as a lead gen tool. Every one of the five included documents a month sent by an individual user is branded with DocuSign (“Powered by DocuSign”). This naturally lends itself to viral growth. With more than 85 million users worldwide in 188 countries, this is a guerilla marketing/ sales team unto itself! 

Companies like DocuSign that sell to both consumers and businesses often track individuals that sign up with the same domain name (e.g. [email protected] and [email protected] abc.com). Once they see traction for a certain domain, they can then target those customers for an upsell to a business plan. Thus the self-service channel funnels into an upsell path. 

Self-service extends to account management as well. Through self-service amendments, DocuSign customers can make changes to their plans. This ability for customers to easily self-service their own accounts is also a great driver for conversions and upgrades. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

To deploy a self-service sales model for customer acquisition and lead gen, SaaS businesses need the ability to:

1. Track usage to target free-to-paid conversions

2. Empower customers to self-manage their own accounts beyond sign-up (e.g. view balance, change subscription, update billing information, and pay for invoices)

3. Support a wide variety of electronic payment methods targeted for different geographic locations

4. Keep all customers in a single system so that the customer experience, over self-service or assisted-sales, is consistent

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