How to build custom features in SaaS and make money
Selecting which feature to build next is an important question for every SaaS business. These choices can determine if we gain customer traction, hit our quarterly revenue targets or survive the competition.
How to pick the correct feature to work on, especially when customers are providing you feedback, is a big question. This was made evident when almost 1,700 people recently viewed the question below on Quora asking about this exact subject.
We’ve got a problem where customers say they will use our product if we will implement X, but they still don’t end up using our SaaS product if we implement the feature. How do you know if a customer really wants a feature?
Jason Lemkin provided a great short answer to the question but with so much interest in the topic I thought it would be helpful to elaborate on his answer and provide a few actionable tips to help you get on your way!
1. Stay on the road map
A lack of focus has been the death of many companies.
It’s not that you shouldn’t build things for individual customers; you just need to be sure that committing to this feature won’t derail your company.
You may want to ask yourself the following questions before you say “we can build that for you.”
- Is this feature inline with your company vision?
- Is this a feature request or a problem statement?
- How much time will this feature take to build and maintain?
- Will this feature give us a competitive advantage in the market?
- Who else will use this feature?
There is no correct answer to each question because the specifics of the deal will be very important.
2. Get a signed contract
This is the most important step of all. If you can’t get a signed contract, it’s a signal that the deal isn’t closed. There is something else, other than a single feature that is stopping your customer from being able to commit.
But how do you get the contract signed?
I personally like to create proposals for a customer. Proposals are written with the goal of providing all of the information required about the feature in question so that your customer can say ye at the end of the document.
Some typical things you may want to include in your proposal are:
- Overview and executive summary,
- Screenshots and functionality walk through,
- Pricing schedule with payment terms,
- Deployment schedule including what both parties will do and when,
- And answers to frequently asked questions.
Once you have a complete proposal the customer can sign off on it and only now can work safely begin!
3. Building the feature
As a SaaS company, this is the area you likely have the most experience, so I won’t go into the details of delivering.
The one tip I will share with you, and you should share with your team, is about delivery and team moral.
It’s very important that you hit the deadlines you set with the customer. However, the customer will more than likely fall behind schedule at some point. This is ok!
Your customer will notice that you are on schedule. This alone is a reason for them to speak very highly of you, which will help with future sales.