A Lesson in Startup Efficiency: 3 Strategies to Get You There
Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a two-part series featuring Logz.io co-founder and VP of Product, Asaf Yigal. In the first installment, Yigal shares tips about how to win customers over in the crucial first five minutes of product engagement.
Efficiency is a word we use a lot in the SaaS space. It’s something we strive to deliver via our products and solutions, and it’s something we try to achieve on a daily basis with our own teams. But, as often as the word comes up, it’s still frequently misunderstood. Efficiency isn’t about doing more or about doing things more quickly, it’s about finding the shortest route from Point A to Point B, whether that means getting from initial idea to finished product, from the top of the funnel to conversion, or from first touch to brand loyalty.
As the co-founder and VP of Product for Logz.io, Asaf Yigal is always looking for opportunities to increase his company’s efficiency, and he finds them in a variety of areas. In almost all cases, the opportunity lies in “going direct to source” to solve a particular challenge or optimize a particular workflow.
Sales: Go Right to the Pain Point
“For any SaaS product, one thing you need to be clear on is your target audience – who you’re selling to and who’s going to be using your environment,” says Yigal. “And, more often than not, these are two different personas: buyer and user. You want to target the user more than the buyer.”
Based on this philosophy, Yigal and his team take a more bottom-up approach to sales and marketing.
“A lot of the product and marketing people I talk to tell me they’re selling to the CTO, CIO, or CISO, but we’re doing things differently. We send our product to the users – the people with the pain – and then work with them on how to justify the purchase to their managers.”
This approach helps Yigal eliminate scenarios in which a product has been forced on an unwilling user. “Companies who sell from the top down run into the probability of forcing the product on employees, and then you end up with products that aren’t being used,” Yigal says. “We want our customers to use our product, so we work directly with users to make sure they gain value the system. It’s much easier to sell someone from that point rather than having to use a ‘talk-down’ approach.”
Public Relations: Go Right to the Relevant Contributors
PR is a tricky piece of the marketing puzzle because it’s driven primarily by elements outside your control. To complicate matters, many SaaS companies operate in super-specialized and niche areas that aren’t always of interest to the mainstream business or tech media. It often feels like the only way to get any press is to do something a little crazy. Yigal takes a different approach.
“We don’t use PR firms because most of what we do is very technical. We’ve learned that going after the big-shot reporters at major publications is not a good strategy for a tactical product like ours.”
Instead, Yigal’s in-house PR team focuses on hyper-targeting contributing journalists with special interest in the topics related to Logz.io.
“Every major publication will tell you that their reporters are very busy and getting hundreds of pitches each day,” Yigal says. “But, that’s not always the whole truth. Some of them may get hundreds of pitches, but many don’t; and it’s very possible to reach someone who is a contributor to a major site – like Forbes – who doesn’t get that many pitches and who is interested in getting story leads. Identifying these individuals and being able to pitch them directly is a more efficient way of doing good PR.”
Capital Management: Go Right to the Data
“When you run a startup, cash is obviously a big concern,” says Yigal. “You have to be capital efficient. But, many people still make decisions about capital based on gut feelings.” Instead, Yigal advocates for data-based decisions.
“If you make decisions based on gut feelings, you might be right or you might be wrong, and you’ll never know which. If, however, you make decisions based on data, you can backup your gut feelings with numbers and will be able to move forward more quickly, which will lead to a more capital-efficient organization.”
As an example, Yigal uses a simple scenario in which a company is questioning whether or not to request a phone number as part of the registration process. “Sales will want the phone number because they believe that direct contact will help them get the sale,” Yigal says. “But if you go by that gut feeling alone, you’ll never be sure if that was the right decision.” Instead, Yigal recommends A/B testing to collect data that will show how asking for a phone number actually impacts overall volume and conversion.
The same approach works in product development. “For each feature we develop, we measure how many people are using it and what they’re using it for,” Yigal explains. “Without data, you’re just flying blind – spending money and wondering why something that makes perfect sense to you isn’t working for your customers. But if something doesn’t work, there’s a good reason for it; and you’ll see that reason in the data.”
From engineering and PR to sales and capital management, taking the time to find and utilize smart, direct-to-source efficiencies can go a long way toward moving your business ahead. “Efficiency is a big thing,” Yigal sums up. “It’s about being able to make the right decisions quickly because you’ve shortened the time it takes you to learn what will work and what won’t.”