One of the main reasons that I was excited to take on a new role at 10gen was the opportunity to learn a new business model: Software-as-a-Service.
As an early marketing employee, I had the opportunity to help build our enterprise software business from the ground up. This was a fascinating process, and it involved building demand gen programs, working closely with the salesforce, and implementing marketing automation tools.
But enterprise software has long, high-touch sales cycles. Would anything I learned in enterprise software be applicable to the low-touch, buy-online SaaS model? Luckily, there have been some parallels:
Always talk to your users
In any business, understanding your audience is critical. In order to craft product message, build campaigns, and grow the user base you have to know what your target market wants. One of the first things that I did with the team was administer a survey of our MMS user to get an understanding of our demographic. I’ve been joining as many customer calls as I can. If you are using MMS I want to talk to you! This is not unlike my role in community, where I often attended meetup and events and constantly talked to MongoDB developers to understand their needs.
Metrics are key
In SaaS, we’re optimizing for online conversions, looking at the steps in the web funnel that each visitor passes through before they make a purchase (in this case, our goal is to sell them hosted MongoDB backup). This isn’t all that different from when we built a model around our subscription business to understand the number of leads that we need to generate the required marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for sales, the number of MQLs that convert to sales opportunities, and then the percentage of opportunities that sales ultimately wins. Once you understand your baseline funnel, it’s all about optimization the conversions.
Freemium models work
10gen’s business model could be called a “freemium” model – the software is open source, and customers pay for subscriptions. MMS is no different: monitoring is free, and we offer backup as a paid service. This model is a win-win: for the user, they get a free service while building a relationship with the product or company; for the company, they have an inexpensive path for acquiring sales prospects.
Overall my new adventure is already fun. In conclusion I thought I would share two articles that I found particularly interesting for getting started with SaaS: