Dear SaaStr: I’m Moving to SaaS After Years in Consumer. What’s Different?

Q: I’m starting a job at a SaaS company after years in consumer apps. What should I know that might not be obvious to a newcomer?

You have to love customers and all the struggles and dramas around making and keeping them happy.

I know this doesn’t sound profound, but it is.

B2C folks are focused on users. On the quantitative side of users. On satisfying the majority of users. Users are an aggregate. Very rarely does one user in particular matter, or anything really except a cohort of users.

B2C folks often never even talk to their users at all, other than a small subset of folks that work at the company. B2C folks can write off individual customer complaints unless in the aggregate they impact virality, usage, etc. B2C folks can ignore feature gaps and feature requests unless everyone really needs them.

In SaaS …

  • Customers will complain. All the time. Every day. Constantly.  And you’ll have to deal with it.
  • Your best customers will threaten to leave and you can’t just let them go like free users or $6 a month paid subscribers.
  • Feature gaps will seemingly almost wreck your company as the competition doesn’t have them.
  • You’ll have to get on a lot of Zooms and even jets and talk to customers. You can’t just code and click.
  • You’ll have to meet and host customers. At events. At your office. All the time.
  • You’ll have to deal with the fact customers have pretty bad ideas of what you should do with the product. And you’ll still sometimes have to build it.
  • The whole company will have to align around customers. They’ll have to respond to the challenge of what it takes the close, upsell, and retain revenue. Of getting the highest NPS and CSAT, the most second-order revenue.

Many, many B2C folks struggled to work successfully in this environment, no matter how bright and talented they are.  They have to move from being focused on users to being focused on customers, and even, individual customers.  Not just numbers and conversion metrics.

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

A related video on the kind of stuff you’ll need to learn to love 🙂 here:

Published on July 11, 2021

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