The most powerful SaaS growth lever
November 10, 2023
Recap: Customers 1-50
Previously, we talked about how to easily get our first five customers.
Then we moved on to how to get our first 50 customers.
Up to this point, we’ve focused on things that don’t scale.
What we’ve learned thus far
Along the way, we’ve gotten some customers, our first revenue, and we’ve gathered a ton of information.
Through these conversations, we should know our customer profile pretty well and the words they use, which has driven our messaging.
Our product market fit is coming along, and if we did things right, we’ve spotted the friction along the way, and optimized, with little micro-pivots along the way, as we learn who are customers are and what is and isn’t important to them.
We’ve learned the difference between what they think is “cool”, versus what motivates them to put their money where their mouth is.
Your unique marketing approach
While we’re going to continue having a lot of conversations, we’re ready to start thinking about scaling.
The reality is that every app and market is different, as are the strengths of the founder.
There’s no predefined path to execute here, rather, if we’ve paid attention along the way, it should be pretty clear what marketing paths make sense to experiment with.
I’m going to leave that conversation for another time.
The most powerful SaaS growth levers
For now, I want to point out the most powerful growth levers at your disposal: affiliates and resellers.
The reason these are so powerful is you can have an army of people selling on your behalf with little to no cost out of your pocket.
You can think of it as having a sales team that gets paid purely on commission, because that’s essentially how it works. For every customer they bring in, they get a cut.
Instead of working for individual customers, we’re looking for individual people to go and get them for us.
We’re transitioning from one-to-one, to one-to-many.
This is scaling at its finest, and by far has the most potential of any marketing effort to be the most cost-effective customer acquisition channel.
In my case, I never actively recruited any affiliates or resellers, but I had more than a dozen people ask to be a reseller and more than that to be an affiliate.
Don’t try to grow up too fast
While outsourcing customer acquisition for your SaaS can be highly effective, and can drive exponential growth for your SaaS, don’t think you can skip the critical step of finding product/market fit.
In the early stages, the most important job of the founder is to be there to navigate those early conversations and find that fit. This can’t be outsourced, so be careful not to get ahead of yourself.
In my case, I grew to ~$8k+ MRR on my own before bringing on resellers.
By the time I sold, my $61k MRR was made up of:
24% direct customers
76% sales via resellers
With a little upfront work, your business has the potential to scale exponentially with just a few good resellers and/or affiliates.
You can then choose to continue to do sales and marketing yourself or rely on the resellers so you can focus on product and other parts of the business, which is a beautiful thing, for any lean startup, especially a solo founder.