Scaling as a SaaS business: How to go about the S of Service?

This month, there’ve been multiple conversations in the CEO Masterminds I run about the second S in SaaS: the S of Service. The essence of the discussions: How to go about Service (Delivery) to accelerate growth, not inhibit it.

I know that the essence of this word is about how the customer receives the solution (as a Service). But grey clouds grow around this concept when the actual delivery of it requires a lot of labor. And that can seriously inhibit both growth and momentum.

I’ve worked with many tech-entrepreneurs and interviewed even more on my podcast, which started by taking a manual (service-led) approach to delivering the solution.

This is how they find their way to product-market fit. That’s all fine – but on that journey, they should not forget to answer the critical question: “What growth do we aspire to, and what will be the biggest roadblocks to overcome?”

The things I continuously see that make answering this question harder is this:

  1. There’s ill alignment at the top level around the approach to achieving the growth aspiration: Service led or Product led.
  2. There are individual (misaligned) targets on each revenue component: the Software and the Service.
  3. There’s no responsibility and accountability for the end goal across departments: A happy customer.

Just picture this: It’s the end of the quarter. You’ve just sold a sizable SaaS deal. Everyone is happy – especially sales. Now it’s time to deliver the solution. This is where services come in. And the critical question is: What’s their mindset? Is it – ‘We have to make the customer happy and …

  1. …we’re going to leverage our skills and expertise to give them exactly what they want. You ask, and we’ll build it…
  2. …we’re going to get them live in record time by leveraging templates based on expertise from dozens of similar customers

Both mindsets are good in isolation – it just depends on what your objectives for growth are.

If a good year is a year with 30 new customers that all turn into ambassadors, having a boutique-style service-heavy approach can be a valid route to bet on.

If the aspiration is to change the world, which is about volume and scale, making the delivery approach leaner and leaner is possibly the best route to bet on.

The problem starts when you aim for volume with a services-heavy approach. No one wins there – not your customer, not your business.

It’s all about choices.

About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.