It seems like cloud-deployed software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions have become standard tools of the trade in almost every area of enterprise computing. The message seems obvious—if you can create the next big thing, SaaS is a potential gold mine.
So you’ve assessed an industry need. You’ve coded up a solution, and you’ve done your big launch. You have a couple of clients locked down, and a few quarters have gone by. Now you’re running into a problem. A problem that can be nerve-wracking to say the least, if not downright frightening. When the time comes for your customers to renew, you’re finding more and more of them are bailing out. Your numbers are reflecting that Achilles’ heel of the SaaS selling model: churn.
As much as the SaaS model lends itself to unprecedented profit through generating recurring subscription-based revenue, it also raises the bar on the importance of ongoing customer relationships. After all, if you’re selling a big-ticket product where you’re in, out, and done with a client, locking down the sale and maybe providing a little support here is all you have to worry about. If you’re running a subscription-based service, you need your clients to keep using your product—which means your client needs to continue finding it useful, relevant, and unrivaled.
While it might sometimes seem like a good development team and a whole lot of luck are the only two factors that can prevent churn, there’s another one that’s just as important. How you sell, not just what you sell, can protect you from customer attrition. Channel partner relationships can actually help you bring your churn rate down—and here’s how.
Assessing Real Needs From the Field
If you have a channel sales team selling your SaaS solution in a variety of different markets, you’ll have a far clearer conception of what your customers are actually doing with the product. That goes beyond just understanding what features they’re using and what bugs they’re running into. You’ll discover, for instance, if there are features that a substantial number of different end users are asking for, or if end users are using a competitor’s product as an “off-label” workaround in conjunction with yours that could inform a feature you could build into a future release.
This is a level of insight that only a fully engaged channel partner that knows its clients can get you. It’s a source of information that you can send back to your developers to make sure that, rather than your customers dumping their subscription and going with a competitor, you’re constantly adding those new features they’ve been demanding in their offices. In doing so, you can head your competition off at the pass.
Seeing What Works and What Doesn’t
The market that you plan on selling in isn’t always the market you’ll end up dominating. You may have imagined that your SaaS software package was going to be the go-to solution for giant hospitals to handle their HR needs and end up being a resource exclusively for small educational institutions instead. These days, successful businesses are the ones that can pivot.
And if you have channel partners that are out there selling in different markets, they’re the ones who can open your eyes to where your real success is going to happen. They’ll help you discover where your product performs the best and introduce you to new clients working in that same space. And if some of those relationships with earlier businesses you thought would be your main client base atrophy, they’ll be replaced with twice as many diehard customers—so in the final analysis, you won’t see churn, you’ll seen an upturn.
Doubling Down on Customer Satisfaction
As a SaaS supplier, you’re doing a lot of different things—some of them customer-focused, some of them development-focused, and so on. A channel partner, on the other hand, can focus more closely on serving its clients. So if you have the right partners representing your products the right way, you can benefit by proxy from the satisfaction they bring. Your partners’ clients trust them—and in turn they trust your product. And that’s your best defense against churn.
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