8 things small businesses look for when considering SaaS

Cloud marketers and SaaS pros share their advice on how to make cloud-based software attractive to small and midsized businesses.

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In addition, “cloud and software vendors should seek out and post real third-party reviews about their services,” says Rob Boirun, CEO, Reviewster Network. “Credibility can go a long way and most consumers nowadays know what a fake review or testimonial looks like. Independent positive reviews are usually a key buying indicator.”

5. Offer a free trial. “By offering a free trial, you’ll immediately standout as having confidence in your technology’s performance and ability to successfully compete,” says Doug Hazelman, vice president, Product Strategy, Veeam Software. Moreover, a free trial “is not only a great way for the customer to compare multiple vendors, it’s an opportunity for you to show you can truly solve their issues instead of just meeting obligatory criteria from a marketing checklist. It’s also a good idea to supply customers with a generic test plan so they can try out different features of your product they may not have been aware of.”

[ Related: 6 tips for small businesses considering outsourcing ]

6. Be transparent about pricing. “Be transparent with prices so that people don't have to ask you about them and can understand them,” says Benson.

“Cloud companies need to make their pricing as transparent and simple as possible,” agrees Andrew Leigh, vice president, alliances, Jitterbit, a cloud-based integration platform. “Make the entire price list publicly available on a single page of the website. Customers are much more likely to renew and expand their cloud service contracts when they can clearly understand and plan expenses; hidden fees and surprise charges for new services destroy the foundation of trust that cloud sales requires.”

7. Offer tiered subscriptions/different pricing options. “Cloud service companies shouldn’t be afraid to sell small, prove value and let the customer buy more over time,” says Leigh. “Cloud services should be sold with natural up-sales built into the customer journey, so that deals are agile and scalable, just like the technology they offer to customers.”

Specifically, “SaaS solution pricing plans need to be designed with discount tiers and volume incentives that ensure that pricing does not become a significant barrier to broader adoption,” says Bob Muglia, CEO, Snowflake Computing.

8. Provide excellent customer service and support.“Be available to your customers,” says Shawn Miller, CEO, eComLane, a provider of dedicated business-class servers. “It's shocking that most cloud server hosts rarely have a phone number or live chat available on their site. If a customer can't reach a person or their hosting company, they [will] run to Facebook or Twitter to voice their issue.”

[ Related: 10 ways multichannel companies can build trust with customers ]

“A dedicated and highly trained account manager [and support staff are] crucial to the happiness of a client,” says Couto. “In the tech world, especially when dealing with data backup, when a client contacts the support team they are often looking for quick help. Having a highly-responsive, 24/7 team will set you apart from the rest and can often lead to customer referrals.”

“SaaS products that provide 24/7 helpdesk services have a competitive advantage for small business owners when making software and service product decisions,” says Ebba Blitz, CEO, Alertsec, a provider of encryption software. “Providing a level of support that enables small business owners to focus on the business of their business, rather than operations, aids in overall success.”

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