Don’t throw more even more features into your enterprise SaaS. Preventing high churn rates is something you can do in go-to-market messaging — even before the first purchase.
The fact is, churn prevention starts before product launch.
It’s true. And it’s got everything to do with the your product’s go-to-market messaging.
Customers make purchases based on a variety of external factors. The demo, your brand, your reps’ selling process, the “wow” factor, even your other products, for example. But their expectations are set from moment one with the information they see (and interpret) in your messaging.
Many symptoms of churn show themselves (far too late) as problems rooted in budget, onboarding, and sales issues. But there’s good news. When properly addressed in advance, many of these types of churn can be stopped in their tracks before launch.
Prevent budget-based churn
If the reason for churn is budget objections, the problem isn’t bad pricing – it’s that value has not been portrayed adequately, so people didn’t truly know what they were buying into. Prevent budget-based churn by ensuring the value proposition in your go-to-market messaging is both strong and relevant to the buyers you hope to adopt onto your platform.
Does this sound too much like a guessing game? It’s not – because you don’t really write a value proposition; you reveal it by doing lots of customer and product research. What you do need to do is articulate it in a compelling and sharp way that resonates with long-lasting buyers.
Prevent adoption churn
Another easily pre-launch preventable source of churn happens when the sale is made and it’s time for the users to take the handoff.
A useful onboarding process is vital to this phase, but there’s something else going on, too: disconnect between the buyer of your SaaS and its users.
What happened? You got your value proposition right; you identified the business buyer and even developed a buyer persona that hit all the right points. The buyer you sold to agreed your software could solve the organization’s problems… but the user never got the memo.
When you’re working on your pre-launch strategy, you need to address all the stakeholders involved in a sale with their own buyer persona: the economic buyer, the technical buyer, and the functional buyer—the one using the product.
The go-to-market messaging, content and materials should speak to each stakeholder type. After all, even though in B2B the users don’t write the PO or hand over their credit card, they are arguably the most important persona when it comes time to renew.
Prevent acquisition churn
Too many B2B SaaS companies (and too many B2B companies or, for that matter, any type of tech companies in general…) feel the need to just keep adding in new features and that will solve their churn problem.
But what if you feel like your product teams are getting whiplash from (off-roadmap) feature requests? Some of which seem less like requests and more like complaints, and others that suddenly crop up when a competitor muscles into the account?
In this case, continuing to add new features to your product is not going to make your customers happy—because your product isn’t the problem.
The problem is that neither your Sales process nor your go-to-market messaging identifies the target buyers that make up a sustainable base of loyal customers.
If sales reps (and management) are after highly aggressive sign-on quotas, then they’ll put all their energy into acquisition mode. (There’s an industry term for this—“acquisition addiction”—and it’s fatal to renewals.) Then these customers, energized by a deal or a short term need, will let their subscription lapse the moment the honeymoon is over.
Prevent acquisition churn by having sales reps spend the time it takes to identify true customer matches your SaaS. And then, to work with customers to ensure that the SaaS will continue to deliver value for them after the first year.
The thing about churn prevention…
You need to look at churn prevention the same way as preventing an illness or crime or disaster. Inevitably, some will make it through, but only a fraction as if you hadn’t put prevention strategies in place.
Unlike illnesses, crimes, and disasters, however, you do want some customers to churn out. Ones that are high maintenance. Or whose payment fails. Or who overtax your support mechanisms disproportionately to the majority of your user base.
Customers like these can end up costing you more than they pay. So don’t throw more features after them like a life raft. Just gracefully allow them to drift away.
Download the 5-point Churn Checkup
This quick, five-point diagnostic will show you the most common places to look beyond the product for sources of churn, so you can save your organization from scrambling to make reactive (and expensive) changes to your software based on user surveys alone.
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