SaaS narrative: The Art of Storytelling for SaaS Companies

The SaaS business ecosystem has recorded a tremendous growth in the past decade. As per Statista, the Software as a Service (SaaS) market has swelled from a little over 10 billion US Dollars in 2010, to more than 150 billion US Dollars in the year 2020. The future for the SaaS businesses in India looks on the promising side too. It’s expected to reach 20 billion US Dollars in valuation, and claim almost 9% of the global SaaS market by 2022. 

These numbers sound great, and considering the growth patterns in the last few years, the targets are achievable. However, with so much potential in this market, there is also a need for SaaS companies to look at things differently, and rewire the thought process to stay relevant in the market. In short, if we put it in a very simple way, they need to get their narrative right. 

A SaaS narrative is a lot like storytelling, but there are multiple aspects to it. And, to uncover them, dive deep into their meaning we invited Joseph Abraham in our expert webinar series, where we invite industry specialists to share their thoughts and expert knowledge on their area of interest. 

In the following part of this blog, you will find excerpts from the webinar. We have also added the recorded session here, so if that interests you, click on the thumbnail below to watch the video

What is a SaaS narrative and why exactly is it important?

It’s always important to start from the basics. So, we wanted to start our webinar with this question, and set the stage for all the listeners. We think Joseph did a fabulous job in answering this question, and there is a lot of takeaway from his experience. Here are some quotes which will help you understand.

“Earlier, people were very passionate talking about product stories, and there was a whole narrative built around the founder which was highly successful. Then people moved to talking about products, but there are 400+ products in each category now.

So, the old value proposition of better, faster, smarter is not an added advantage anymore, it’s default now. The narrative has shifted to telling what you exactly do, and how it will help me as a customer. If you sell CRM software, you have to tell how your CRM software will be helpful for sales people in the manufacturing sector.”

How do you think SaaS storytelling has evolved over the years for SaaS companies?

We thought of going a little deeper in this concept of storytelling. Building on where Joseph left his answer, we thought of quizzing him more about moving from product-centric storytelling, to brand- centric, and then finally customer-centric.

“The stories that are shaping today, are the ones that have context. However, it’s laced with thought leadership. The whole idea about thought leadership is about telling your perspective or insight about solving a problem. It’s not about telling you’re fast, but more about why you’re fast.

The important thing here is that the thought leadership has to be owned by everyone — marketer, support, salesperson, and everyone else in a company. Once a customer comes in, you should be able to tell the customer’s story to other customers in a justified and an effective way.

However, the problem here is that the story is told to the customer in different versions, there is no meta-narrative. So, in a nutshell, storytelling at this point of time is about building the right narrative, and then contextualizing it to different use cases.”

What is your take on Indian SaaS companies in the global arena?

Now that we were sufficiently clear about the concept of writing a narrative, and how storytelling has changed over the years, we thought of making this webinar more interesting by asking this question. Indian SaaS companies have come a long way, and the numbers at the beginning of this blog proves that.

However, when we compare with the global market, how do we stack up? Are we there yet, where we can confidently announce that we’re in a position to dominate the global market?

“It’s all about people. People in India buy products differently from the people in the US. A lot of businesses make the mistake of following the same marketing and sales process in India, and applying it in the US. The challenge here is that in India, people want a breadth of solutions, whereas in the US, people prefer point solutions. 

There are many aspects here, but overall I have seen many Indian companies do well in the international market, and there are a few things that we miss out. Companies need to figure out two important fits here: Product-market fit and culture fit.

Culture fit is very important because you need to have the right channels and people behind it who know the culture. The other problems include not taking a mobile-first approach, getting the pricing wrong, and establishing the sales process that is not aligned with the way market functions.

Where can we use a SaaS pitch? Can we include it in the sales pitch too?

A SaaS pitch can make things a little complicated for the SaaS business owners. It might compel them to think if it’s one of those pitches that has to be kept ready only for specific occasions like an elevator pitch for a business conference. We had this question too, and we were not letting this opportunity of getting the right answer from the right person go away so easily. 

“There are five areas where you can use a SaaS pitch:

  1. Customers

       It varies depending on the stage you’re, but you have to make good assumptions, and see where and how your pitch is working. As you become more mature you will understand your customers, and identify the areas where the revenue is coming from. 

  1. People 

Your own people who belong to different teams are also important for using the SaaS narrative. Tell them your story in a simple and effective manner, so they know clearly what you do.

  1. Investors

Investors are tired of looking at decks. Predominantly, they’re interested in only two factors: what’s your current valuation and how much you’re looking to raise. 

  1. Analyst firms

In your initial days, you might not be a part of their network, but they’re still scouting for the next big thing. So you have to build your narrative in a way that they pick your stories, and talk about them.

  1. Partnerships

Having a great narrative will help you get more partnerships. Other companies will like what you’re doing, and reach out to you saying that they would like to partner with you, and share their customer segment too.

Where should a Start-up focus in their initial days?

There are so many things to look out when you launch a start-up. There are funding concerns, you need to get your first paid customer, and then there’s hiring too. With so many things on their plate, it’s natural for founders to get confused about where they should get started. Joseph had a brilliant take on this question.

“The first thing is nailing the product-solution fit. It’s easy to say that solve the customer’s problem, and they will buy it. But, there are many companies who learned this by pivoting their way. The starting point is not what industry reports or analyst firms are saying; it’s only when you empathize with the problem you can create a problem statement. The second part that you have to discover is who you are as the founder -  are you a developer, a marketer, or none of these. 

If you’re none, don’t start because in the initial days you cannot outsource, so you have to be a specialist in one thing. When it comes to funding, raise money when you need proprietary software in the initial days, otherwise bootstrapping is more preferable in the initial days. Once you have an architecture and product roadmap ready, you can start raising seed money.”

How a Start-up can differentiate itself from the crowd?

If there is so much opportunity in the SaaS market, it’s easy to predict that there will be more companies looking to venture into this space. We posed this question to Joseph because we were very eager to learn that with so many companies playing in the same field, how can a startup differentiate itself from the crowd.

“The answer is elementary - have a great product, and a great story. Building a great product first is very necessary because a great story cannot replace a great product. Once that you have told the story, map the sales process according to it.

The final part is working on customer success; your customers need to say a good ROI within the first 30 days. If they don’t get that, they’re looking for a switch even before you know that.”

What would you suggest to Startups who are in the early stages of building a team?

Building the right team while scaling a startup is like investing in your future. If you hire the right people, and excel in team building, you know you’re writing your own success story. However, it’s easier said than done. To get more actionable insights on this, and to conclude the webinar we asked this question to Joseph.

“Early stage hiring is the most difficult part because you can’t write a job description. So, it’s more about understanding what do you need a person for and clearly defining the jobs to be done. If the expectations are wrongly defined, things fizzle out after some time. Besides, have the right metrics set as it helps to build social proof.”

Summing it up

That was all about the SaaS business and writing a successful narrative. Starting from the basics we tackled many questions related to surviving the global market, using the SaaS pitch, differentiating from the crowd and building a successful team in the initial days.We hope there were a lot of takeaways for you, while this was just the excerpt, we highly recommend checking out the video.

You can register for our upcoming events on our webinar page. If you miss that, you check our YouTube channel. We upload the recorded version on the next day.

You can also be a part of our Facebook and Slack community to participate in many conversations related to business, productivity and growth.

Few of our previous Webinars

If you like our webinars do check out our previous webinars summed up below as blog posts.

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Mastering Communication For Agile Teams In 2021
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How COVID Has Disrupted The Way Startups Operate
6 Proven Ways to Improve Sales Productivity in 2021
5 Proven Ways to Improve Customer Service in 2021