The SaaS sector is still a relatively new phenomenon and a hotbed of technical innovation, with new start-ups being born out of just a simple idea and some coding skills.
These companies are pushing boundaries and testing new approaches in a variety of business areas, including product development, payments, and company structure. It’s the way that these companies approach customer acquisition and conversion which I find fascinating.
Many of these companies have unique approaches to marketing, sales and retention, which offer valuable lessons in a rapidly evolving sector.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at three companies that have used interesting or unusual approaches in their sales.
Objection Co: Using Strategic Partnerships to Grow
Objection Co identifies and disputes illegitimate online reviews to protect its customers’ businesses.
Founder Curtis Boyd came up with the idea for the company when he was training as a nurse. The story goes that a cosmetic surgeon at the hospital he was studying at had lost lots of patients after a bad review was posted about his work.
The surgeon promised to pay off Boyd’s $30,000 student debt if he could find a way of getting the review taken down. Boyd took him up on the offer and actually managed to do it. Not only did he get the money, but the surgeon also recommended him to the entire physician network – within a week he had over 500 clients and Objection Co was born.
The system uses AI and machine learning to identify and then dispute reviews on more than 18 of the most widely used review websites.
To get customers, the company developed a social listening tool that identifies bad reviews for all kinds of businesses. They then feed this data into their own software to see if the reviews qualify for removal.
If they do, they give the business a cold call and send them a postcard. This approach led to the company growing from 40 users to more than 300 in less than four months.
More recently, the company has changed its front end to make it a more data-driven solution, using hard figures to show how much value the service could bring to customers.
The company is now focusing its efforts on building strategic partnerships with larger partners in order to get longer-term contracts amongst its customer base.
GMass Is So Good It Gave the FBI a Problem: A Kick-Ass Product That Found Users on Reddit and Product Hunt
GMass was born out of necessity, when software developer Ajay Goel wanted to send out an email campaign using Gmail and was surprised to find that no plugin existed that allowed him to do so.
Goel created a prototype within a month and shared the product on a number of online news sites, including Reddit and Product Hunt.
This drove a large number of users to the product – as did listing it on the Chrome Web Store, where it was ranked number three for the search term ‘mail merge’.
Initially GMass was free to use. However, after Goel was contacted by an FBI agent and told that it had become the tool of choice for scammers he switched it to a monthly subscription model – plans now range between $7 to $20 per month.
In 2019 the company was aiming to finish the year having made $3 million and achieved 10,000 paying users.
To do this it built new tools to attract traffic. These include a tool that enables users to see if their emails are landing in people’s inbox, spam or promotions box. Another allows people to get email statistics and information on different domains.
Baremetrics Lays Its Figures Bare to Build Trust and Loyalty
Baremetrics provides a range of products for SaaS and subscription businesses, mainly centring around payments, content and user metrics.
Transparency is one of the company’s core values and the company’s blog takes this to a level that few other businesses would dare reach.
For example, its founder has written very personally on subjects like how he failed to sell the company for $5 million, how one of their new projects was shelved before it even got off the ground, and the company’s strategy for growth.
Elsewhere, the company even allows website visitors to view its own metrics in real time. Not only does this evidence the company’s transparency, it also provides potential customers with a real-world example of how the product works.
This approach is smart; as a SaaS business that supports other SaaS companies, this insight into the ups and downs and internal processes at a successful organisation are useful, supportive and interesting.
The company also operates the Open Project, an anonymised database of all the figures generated by Baremetrics’ users. It is divided into two main areas: benchmarks and start-ups.