After three failed attempts at SaaS and two unsuccessful apps, I concluded that to be profitable, your startup should be designed with profit in mind. Many entrepreneurs postpone the inevitable by enhancing their product’s features and avoiding conversations with potential users. This strategy often leads to a product’s death within months due to a lack of users.
Previously, I was under the impression that gathering emails was a sign of validation. However, zero paying customers out of 160 emails disapproved my theory. The most efficient way to authenticate your SaaS idea is to market your product as soon as possible.
I hope you don’t abandon your aspirational product. Therefore, I’ve composed this comprehensive guide to assist you in validating your SaaS idea by achieving sales as swiftly as possible.
The Basics of SaaS Idea Validation
Before delving into the specific steps, let’s begin with the basics.
SaaS idea validation essentially means determining whether there’s a market for your proposed product. If you don’t authenticate it, there’s a considerable risk you’ll squander months, or possibly years, on a product that no one is willing to pay for.
For SaaS idea validation, connecting with prospective buyers and gathering feedback about the product concept is crucial. However, this is often easier said than done, so idea validation remains a significant challenge for SaaS founders.
The Key Challenge in SaaS Idea Validation
Most SaaS founders and entrepreneurs would be familiar with the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) loop, made popular by The Lean Startup:
- Build: Transform your concept into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
- Measure: Gather data that reflects the market’s response.
- Learn: Authenticate or debunk your idea based on the data (then iterate and adjust).
The cycle continues until you achieve your desired results.
Despite being an excellent model theoretically, SaaS founders (including myself) often encounter difficulties in its practical implementation.
The primary obstacles? Gathering information is challenging, and interpreting the obtained data can be even harder.
The solution? Start selling your product as quickly as possible, even before you start programming it. If this advice seems bold, continue reading. I will guide you through the entire validation process from inception to completion.
Start with a Problem
Some startups initially obsess over pleasing a particular customer group. However, it’s difficult to identify this group before knowing what you intend to do. It’s uncertain how extensive the group should be and whether you’re addressing the same audience throughout your validation stage.
Conversely, some startups stick to the product, push the prototype to potential customers, and then begin marketing it. Using this method, my products typically lasted for four to eight weeks before being abandoned.
I prefer to focus on a problem: "difficulty in finding B2B leads". Thousands of successful products cater to this issue for various customer groups.
When you focus on resolving a single problem, the chances of finding the appropriate solution increase after several iterations. Ideally, the founder has also experienced this problem, which will require less time to validate its existence.
Rather than switching from one problem to another every six weeks, focus on a single issue you’re confident about. You can complete half of this milestone before even creating anything by doing pre-sales.
Define Your Ideal Customer Profile
The process of validating a SaaS idea begins by identifying our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). ICPs are so desperate for our solution that they’re willing to pay for it. We’ll test three different segments and see which one converts more easily.
After we list our hypotheses about potential buyers, we brainstorm about where they spend their time and strategize our outreach plan.
Pre-sell Before Coding containing an embedded link.
Once we have a clear understanding of our potential customers, we then move on to pre-selling. Pre-selling, simply put, is selling your product before it actually exists. It’s all about selling the concept and the promise of what you will deliver. This is where the validation really begins.
You can pre-sell your idea using a landing page that describes the product you’re building. Include visuals, a description of the problem it solves, key features, benefits, and a call to action. You can use a tool like Unbounce or Carrd to quickly set up your landing page.
To sweeten the deal, you could offer early-bird discounts to those willing to purchase the product in advance. This provides validation and initial revenue that can be used to fund development.
Remember, the goal here is not to deceive but to build a relationship with your customers. Always be transparent about the product development status and provide regular updates to your early adopters.
Leverage Existing Communities
There are numerous communities online where your potential customers might already be hanging out. For example, if you’re building a SaaS product for graphic designers, you could join communities on Reddit, Slack, or other design forums.
Participate in discussions, provide value, and only then subtly introduce your solution when it’s relevant. The aim is not to spam, but to build relationships and gain trust. Eventually, you’ll have the opportunity to ask for feedback on your SaaS idea, which could lead to early adopters.
Invest in Paid Advertising
If you have a budget for it, paid advertising can be an effective way to quickly get your landing page in front of a larger audience. You could use Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or even LinkedIn Ads, depending on where your potential customers are likely to be.
However, keep in mind that paid advertising is not a replacement for direct conversations with potential users. While it can generate traffic and leads, you’ll still need to talk to your potential customers to understand their needs and validate your SaaS idea truly.
Gather and Analyze Feedback
After executing the above steps, you’ll likely receive feedback from potential customers. This feedback is crucial as it can help validate or refute your initial hypotheses.
For example, if many people are willing to pre-purchase your product, that’s a strong indicator that your SaaS idea has potential. Conversely, if you’re struggling to find anyone interested, it might be a sign that your idea isn’t as viable as you thought.
Remember, idea validation is an iterative process. If your initial idea isn’t resonating, don’t be afraid to pivot and explore new angles.
Authenticating your SaaS idea isn’t straightforward; it requires creativity and resilience. By following these steps, you’ll have a robust framework to help you navigate through this journey. Remember, the goal isn’t just to validate an idea but to build a profitable business that delivers real value to its customers.