Guidance from three SaaS experts on pivoting your company strategy to stay relevant in the COVID-19 downturn.
COVID-19 impacts every business differently depending on the company’s scale, product offering, and capital, among many other factors. For many SaaS CEOs, there may be a need to pivot company strategy in order to sustain business operations and reduce risk amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In our recent webinar: “We Survived the Global Financial Crisis. You Can Survive the COVID-19 Downturn. Lessons Learned from Three SaaS Pioneers.” we asked three experienced SaaS professionals for insight on adjusting their company strategy to stay relevant during a recession.
Vinay Bhagat, CEO of TrustRadius, on Pivoting Market Focus
Vinay Bhagat, CEO of TrustRadius, provided insight into how an analysis of their customers enabled them to pivot their focus to the right market segments.
When the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent earlier this year, his team immediately analyzed buying and retention behaviors across various sectors and size. There were a number of insights gained, but what jumped out was how enterprise customers were behaving very differently than small companies. Enterprises had resources and budget to continue and move along in the sales cycle. Whereas smaller companies were stalling in sales funnels as they focused on their own internal operations are were more limited in terms of resources. Per Vinay: “The first thing we did was shift our lead generation efforts to focus on larger companies,” (See Response in Webinar).
Vinay also recognized that driving revenue through new logos would be far more difficult than expanding within existing customers. Therefore, his second action was to increase focus onto existing customers. Vinay stated: “When you’ve had a relationship with a company and you’ve proven yourself and delivered, the chance of expansion is just so much easier.” Shifting his focus to existing customers will have the added benefit of maximizing retention as well.
Kent Hudson, Founder of Dude Solutions, on Customer Focus
Kent Hudson, Founder of Dude Solutions, described how he led his company through the Global Financial Crisis and exited stronger than before. He stated: “One thing we did that was extremely successful…we said: ‘instead of focusing on our pain, let’s focus on our client’s pain,’” (See Response in Webinar). By making sure his customers weren’t suffering, Dude Solutions wouldn’t either.
Kent and his team focused on deepening the trust within his business relationships. Kent realized that goodwill works in both companies’ favor, especially in a downturn. His view is that you have to build goodwill through this: “If you tell your clients that you’re having problems and you have to increase prices or cut their service, it might work temporarily. You might make it through the year, but you’re killing the future of your business.”
Kent is advising current SaaS leaders to leverage what worked for him. Speak with their clients and “find a way to engage intellectually. You have to tell them the numbers, come to plans, and engage on the emotional side too.” In simple words, Kent assured his clients “we can survive, and we can succeed.”
Terry Slattery, CEO of Checkpoint ID, on Capturing Opportunity Through Product Innovation
Terry Slattery, CEO of CheckpointID, spoke about launching a new product during the downturn and knowing when to do so.
Launching a new product is never easy, especially in a downturn. Terry realized early on in this pandemic that there will be lasting impacts. He realized an opportunity to create a new product to meet future customer demand. He quickly changed his product offering from needing to be in person to being online. As a result, CheckpointID “is having the largest sales month of the in the history of the company, based on looking at a product launch to meet the needs of the customer,” (See Response in Webinar).
By adapting quickly to a suddenly changing market environment, Terry positioned his company to thrive in an uncertain environment. Terry’s guidance for SaaS leaders was: “There’s always an opportunity for your company if you know your vertical, you know where it possibly could go, and you can get there quickly. That’s really what launching a product is about right now.”
Change Creates Opportunity
Nearly every company is facing challenges from COVID-19 and addressing the company strategy may be a necessity. Learning from those who have emerged successfully from a recession before can help minimize risk as you navigate these challenges. As evidenced by these SaaS leaders: there is hope, and change creates opportunity. As Terry Slattery stated, “Don’t be afraid to pivot. The world is going to change, your customers’ needs are going to change, and you need to meet them where they’re going.”
If you’d like to view the full discussion, please see the recorded webinar. Please also see our related blog: Managing Employees During a Recession for SaaS CEOs.