Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tired brains are bad for SaaS

Thinking too hard can tire out your brain.

Research has shown that our brains can suffer from "decision fatigue" after strenuous mental exercise. It's similar to the way our muscles get tired after strenuous physical exercise.

Experiments conducted at German automobile dealerships put prospective customers through a kind of mental decathlon. They asked them to choose among four choices of gearshift knobs,13 choices of wheel rims, 25 engine and gearbox configurations, and 56 color options. After being forced to make a string of decisions, the subjects/ customers succumbed to "decision fatigue" and opted for the default option. They lost much of their capacity to make choices.

Too many choices can be exhausting, and the customer quickly opts for the path of least resistance. That may mean choosing a default option or it may mean choosing to do nothing.

What applies to cars, applies to SaaS too

When prospective customers' brains are tired, it's more difficult to sell automobiles. It's also more difficult to sell technology solutions.

That's a special problem for SaaS solutions, when it's critically important to acquire customers quickly and cost-efficiently. Anything that impedes purchases is a SaaS business killer.

What hoops have you set up?

What kind of decisions do you force your prospective customers to make? How many hoops do you ask them to jump through?

Walk through the process yourself - from start to finish - and count how many decision points your prospects confront. Often we're asking them to navigate through a tortuous labyrinth of options,... even before they buy anything:

  • Which of our solutions is most appropriate for your company?
  • Which version is the best fit?
  • How many seats will you need?
  • Would you prefer the free trial or the freemium version?
  • Which payment plan works best for you?
  • How long would you like to subscribe for?
  • Would you like paper or plastic? (OK I don't actually see that one very often for SaaS solutions.)

I agree that there's a legitimate desire to steer the prospect to the best solution to meet their particular needs. But be careful to balance that against the real danger of tiring them out. And offer default options when possible.

Very few exhausted and frustrated prospects become profitable and satisfied customers.

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This work by Peter Cohen, SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SaaS advantages in a volatile market

For the last few years, NASCAR, Indy car, and Formula One drivers have been wearing a special head restraint, known as a HANS (Head and neck support) device. It's designed to prevent severe injuries from violent whiplash when the race car suddenly decelerates, as in a crash.

For business folks who have been whiplashed over the past few days by the sudden jolts in the stock market, this device might look attractive for more than just race car drivers.

But along with head and neck restraints to deal with volatility, businesses should be looking at software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions as well. SaaS offers several valuable advantages in this uncertain market, and marketers should be touting them.

No long term lock-in

Many SaaS subscriptions run year-to-year or even month-to-month. Companies don't need to lock-in a long term commitment. They can assess their need for the solution periodically and easily make adjustments.

Greater flexibility

SaaS subscriptions often give companies the flexibility to add or subtract users as needed. There's no new hardware or software to bring up or take down. When expanding the business, companies can add users. When scaling back, they can subtract users.

Faster deployment

Most SaaS solutions can be deployed fairly quickly. Though it may take some time to input data, configure the solution and learn how to use it, the SaaS application itself is already up and running. The months required to install and customize on-premise applications is cut to days or weeks.

Coping with uncertainty

The bottom line: your prospective customers are trying to manage in an usually volatile environment. Show them how a SaaS solution can help.

Creative Commons License

This work by Peter Cohen, SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.