We hope you enjoyed the first Simply SaaS Slack Social! On June 5th we hosted another great session and we are featuring questions and comments from David Cummings, Jacey Lucus, Durantae Lucas, Jon Birdsong, A.T. Gimbel, Hubert Liu, Matt Lovett, Lance Weatherby, Landon Bennett, Luke Beard, and Chad Estes. We want to provide new avenues for sparking engaging conversations that help our SaaS entrepreneurs ask burning questions and learn more along their journey. You can also ask any lingering questions here: bit.ly/SlackSocialQuestions
Jacey Lucus kicked off the afternoon conversation with a questions about Product/Market Fit.
Q1: How do you know you’ve found Product/Market Fit?
Product/Market Fit is a super interesting topic.
Definitely a continuum and not black/white.
Some of it is feedback from the customer.
If you turned the product off, how much would customers plead to get it back? A big challenge early on is that 10 different customers can get value 10 different ways, I think PMF is more about consistency of value to customer and repeatability.
Depends on type of product/user (i.e. a $10/month customer/product vs. a $50K annual customer/product).
I think an important part is you also have non-friendly customers, all solving the same problem/use case.
The actual $ amount of sales is less relevant than the number of customers aligned on the use case.
Many times, Product/Market Fit can be "sold" early with existing relationships or heroic sales, but real Product/Market Fit happens when customers are buying faster than you can build, IMHO.
If you have the ability to articulate an Ideal Customer Profile, you most likely have Product/Market Fit.
Here's a good post on Product/Market Fit we like to continue your research.
Follow-up questions to Q1
Q: What is an example of an Ideal Customer Profile to you? How granular do you get? What was the target market at CallRail when you left?
You get more granular as you go along. :) Early at CallRail, I used "10 person agency focused on data-driven marketing" as an ICP. It was good enough. Later on, that developed into personas, Mark Marketing, Andy Auto, Carrie Corporate. They were all unique.
Q2: What is your design process when planning new features?
When designing new features, I love to start on the whiteboard, fast iteration with all the stakeholders is the best way to get started. Make sure to loop in the sales team, and some representative of the customer, those are key stakeholders.
We use Realtime Board.
Freehand from Invision rules.
In George's case, he built a product recs document first.
Depending on the size of the feature/product it can also be helpful to start with a "press release" document on how you intend to sell it, that can help the product team to clarify the value being derived, the problem be solved and exactly how to sell it, then you have a guiding light when you eventually face the de-scoping step.
Check out Ryan Glasgow’s piece on 6 Steps for New Feature Development as an additional resource.
Follow-up Questions to Q2
Q: Any rules of thumb for making sure customer request can be applicable across your entire base, instead of making a product just for one client?
Talking to several customers with different profiles will help with that, your loudest customer is not always going to give you feedback for all users.
Make sure you understand the business objective they are solving and not just a feature request.
Customers generally think more short-term around features that ultimately don’t move the needle in terms of future revenue.
Yes great point - it's also helpful to drive into the problem/objectives when customers ask for new features. That way you can ensure you're addressing the problem across the customer base instead of building a one-off feature for a single customer.
Q: Does anyone use any form of "customer advisory board" to vet new product features/functionality?
Yep I've setup customer advisory boards, but that usually came once we had a mature set of customers and we could more easily identify who were strategic and would work well in a CAB scenario.
I do. I have ~10 people I go to pretty frequently—mostly to test the value proposition—but we use customers for feature level feedback.
I found Pete Kazanjy’s thinking on CAB’s to be helpful. It’s a bit different than what works for us but a great read if anyone’s interested.
Q3: What positions should be the first few hires?
I’m biased toward sales!
I think David mentioned a sales assistant back in the day...
I’m a big fan of an office manager as an early hire, so much value in taking the simpler tasks off the plate of other team members; I like a generalist that’s eager to get stuff done and is very self starting.
Same goes for a sales assistant :)
I like a generalist that’s eager to get stuff done and is very self starting.
Sales is definitely key but you also need to have somebody that attends to customer needs - so if the founder roles aren't handling the customers then somebody needs to be on the ball.
If you're able to turn your first customers into advocates it can really make sales & marketing a ton easier.
Depending on if you have engineering talent, I think that's a pretty important thing to have in-house engineers to help iterate product quickly is good, but i'm partial ;).
Here’s another resource to help you know what traits to look for in your startup's first employees.
Follow-up Question to Q3
Q: How quickly do you need a dedicated QA resource?
Establishing a QA process can maximize your efforts. Roping in other members of the team (sales, CS, etc) can help do QA before you have a dedicated person.
Or can you survive with a strong test-driven development mindset and a nimble and multi-talented product team member?
Documenting key things to validate on each deploy will make it easy for everyone to contribute.
Thanks so much for the quick SaaS Chat! Great insight all around. It’s great hearing from all who participated to understand what you want to know! We hope this session provided you with the knowledge you needed about Product/Market Fit and some helpful takeaways when hiring and launching new features.
Make sure you keep your goals in mind, if you need help staying organized, check out the Simple Strategic Plan.