Due to many of the features in SaaS products, SaaS growth is not easy. That being said, you’ll most likely need help with marketing at some point in your journey as a SaaS CEO. With so many tasks comprised in the role of a SaaS marketing consultant, especially when it’s a product with a long sales cycle like SaaS, it is impossible to keep up without a dedicated expert by your side.
In this article, we’ll go through the characteristics of a great SaaS growth consultant, and how to hire the right person for the role.
1 – The differences between SaaS growth Marketing and other Marketing types
Is it different to sell a SaaS product from any other product? Well, actually it is extremely different.
As we mentioned in the intro, the sales cycle in SaaS is a lot longer, and that’s one of the main reasons why you should go after an expert SaaS growth consultant.
After all, when you’re selling something tangible like a pack of noodles, all you have to do is convince customers that your noodles are the best – or the best for their price range. When it comes to SaaS, you need to worry about other things: especially, customer retention.
SaaS products are quite difficult to sell. First of all, they are not cheap. It’s an investment that users (usually businesses) need to think about for a while.
Other than that, you need to make sure your users remain happy with your product in order for them to keep their subscription. That’s not as easy as convincing someone to buy goods that are tangible and that carry a low cost.
The three pillars of SaaS growth are acquisition, monetization, and retention. It’s harder to improve monetization and retention than it is to acquire new customers. So, you need to understand how you get users to stay with you, and even better, to upgrade. Those two steps are essential in order to keep your SaaS business growing.
2 – Factors to look into when choosing a SaaS growth consultant
Other than the factors we previously mentioned, there are several other important things you should know before you hire a growth consultant for your SaaS business. We’ll go through the main characteristics of a SaaS growth consultant in the following sections.
2.1. Strategic Expert or Functional Specialist?
SaaS growth consultants usually are divided into two categories: strategic experts and functional specialists. These come from different paths: strategic experts are usually from an executive background. When it comes to functional specialists, they usually studied human resources, law, and similar subjects.
A strategic expert will usually prescribe measures that apply to your organization as a whole. Strategic knowledge defines the areas of your business that need prioritizing, whereas functional specialists define priorities in a more granular level, increasing operational prowess.
It’s up to you to understand the needs of your business. Do you need to develop strategies across your business or do you need help in making your processes more efficient? The answer to this question will partially define what kind of professional you need. But that’s far from the whole picture, so let’s move on.
2.2. Choose Top-Line Focus or Bottom-Line Focus
This is another difference that is best defined by the tasks each focus improves.
A bottom-line focus will improve operational effectiveness, reduce expenses, manage human resources and talent costs. So, bottom-line is highly related to the way your business operates.
On the other hand, top-line focus is about creating new products, improving brand awareness, enhancing growth, and customer relationship management.
So, you need to understand what does your business require: do you need help with growth? Or do you want to improve your efficiency? The right SaaS marketing consultant for you will then be focused on the area you need to improve. However, you need to understand this question on your own and ask yourself whether you need a top-line focus or a bottom-line focus. Once you’re able to define this for your business, it’s a lot easier to get the right help from your marketing consultant.
2.3. Make Sure that Consulting is Their Primary Service
It’s easy to get lost while looking for a SaaS marketing consultant. However, one thing you should always keep in mind is whether that professional offers consulting as their primary service.
We always recommend picking a SaaS growth consultant over an agency. The reason behind this is that agencies usually find a way to fix every issue you might have by subscribing to more of their services. Let’s say your website needs a bit of tweaking. Whether a consultant will guide you into a developer that can help you fix your website, an agency will convince you that you need a whole new website.
This is when it gets tricky to hire an agency, and why we recommend hiring a consultant instead. It’s difficult to say no to an agency when you have trusted them with your services. A consultant will have your best interests in mind just because it’s their job. An agency might try to bleed you dry with extra services just to increase their monthly fee.
2.4. Check their Client Portfolio
It’s always a reasonable request to see your candidate’s portfolio.
Nonetheless, checking their portfolio does not mean that your candidate must have experience in SaaS in order to be competent. Sometimes, some candidate that has no SaaS experience will be better than another one that has worked with SaaS. We’ll explain why.
We recommend looking for candidates that have a comprehensive portfolio across different industries. Usually, a consultant that is experienced in different areas is willing to learn everything you might need them to. And that’s the main feature you should look for in a consultant when it comes to experience.
If their portfolio is limited to the tourism industry, as an example, you should question why. There might be a good answer: you’ll never know if you don’t ask. However, usually you should look for diverse portfolios, especially if they include SaaS businesses.
2.5. Check them out on LinkedIn
Your candidate LinkedIn profile should be an open window into their skills. Check out every single SaaS growth consultant candidate you are seriously considering on LinkedIn.
First, look for the other users that recommend them for their skills. Are they colleagues from other companies? Are the recommendations from clients they had as marketing consultants?
You should notice the way your candidates promote themselves on LinkedIn. Are they active posters? Do the things they post have relevance towards the job you want to get done? These are all important questions, and you shouldn’t be afraid to dig into their LinkedIn profile to find the answers.
2.6. Make sure they are proficient in Digital Marketing
This should be evident from the beginning. If your candidate does a great job with offline advertising but has no digital marketing portfolio, beware.
It’s not everyone that does advertising that suits online media. If your consultant says they were able to grow someone’s ROI using digital marketing, there has to be proof.
The biggest proof you can find is on their social media. If your candidate has a great reach (measured in shares and likes), he or she should probably be able to advise you towards getting the same results.
Their social media, other than LinkedIn, should be on point, especially Twitter. It’s easy for a digital marketing professional to grow on social media: if your candidate didn’t, there’s probably a reason. Beware of candidates that boast a lot of accomplishments but don’t even have their social media optimized for results.
2.7. If they offer a trial, accept it!
You should never ask a professional for a free trial. That said, if a professional offers you a free trial of their consultancy services, you just accept it, no questions asked.
The reason behind this is simply that only a highly confident professional will offer a free trial. If someone offers you to try them out for free, they know what they’re doing.
If for some reason this does not apply to the candidate you are testing out, no loss for you, right?
A free trial is always good, as long as there is no harm to your business. Of course, in a free trial, you should get the gist of what that candidate offers, but without compromising yourself.
We don’t advise using whatever you get on a free trial if you don’t commit to that professional, but that’s just our opinion. After all, it’s one thing to be a good businessman, but it’s a whole different thing to profit from free work.
2.8. Check out their website
This should go without saying, but you need to check out your candidate’s websites. If you find an old school website that seems to have been designed in the 90s, that should be able to make you run for your money.
Of course, there are exceptions. Your SaaS growth consultant website should not be the only thing you care about when evaluating a candidate, but it’s quite relevant. If a consultant can’t be trusted with caring about their own online presence, how can you trust them with yours?
Look for websites that explain that consultant’s role, what they propose as their main benefits, and previous results they achieved (especially in terms of ROI).
Your ideal candidate’s website should have all that information. After all, you need to know what you’re getting into by hiring that consultant.
3 – Why should you get a Growth Consultant over an Agency?
We’ve already mentioned a few reasons why we don’t advise hiring a marketing agency instead of a SaaS growth consultant. The main reason it’s been explained in this article already: agencies always try to get you to pay more.
That’s just one of the issues with agencies. If you need something, you might bet an agency is going to expand your needs into an extremely expensive project.
A SaaS growth consultant will be able to understand your product better than an agency team, mostly for the reason that agencies use the same approach to every single project. Of course, you know your brand needs something different: and that’s another reason why you should go after a SaaS growth consultant rather than an agency consultancy.
The right consultant will be able to make more informed decisions, and that’s going to make a huge difference in what that consultant can offer you in terms of improvements.
Your SaaS consultant should also be able to understand which marketing activities you should engage in. You might think the next best thing is Google Ads: however, your consultant might say you should focus on SEO and Facebook Ads. We recommend going after what your consultant recommends: but only when you have gone through all other advice in this article in order to make sure you have the right professional by your side.
Every step in this list takes you closer to your goal. It’s important to think about all your needs as a business before you can move on to hiring a SaaS growth consultant.
Now that we’ve gone through all the characteristics that you should take into account when hiring a SaaS growth consultant, you get the idea of what you should privilege while looking for this kind of role.
Nonetheless, a SaaS growth consultant is a specialized professional, which makes it harder to evaluate them. It can get a little confusing: how are you supposed to find a consultant when there are so many pitfalls in this business?
We have gone through a few tips that you should take into consideration. Check out their website, check out their LinkedIn… it’s not easy! The right way to go about this choice is not an easy one, but it will lead you to great profit. And that is why all these tips are extremely important in order to make the right choice.
We recommend keeping this article in mind while looking for your consultant. Of course, there can be other factors at hand when looking for a SaaS marketing consultant, but you know your business. In the SaaS world, only those who persevere are successful.
If you’d like to learn more about how we help B2B SaaS companies grow their MRR through SEO and PPC, schedule a free SaaS scale session to speak with someone on our team.