What Is the End-User Era?
The end-user era refers to a new trend in how businesses buy software. The decisions about which enterprise applications to purchase are shifting from company executives. Instead, it’s the employees who will use these software tools to do their jobs. In the end-user era, both software makers and the businesses that buy from them are changing the way they operate based on this new reality.
How Product-Led Growth Relates to the End-User Era
Product-Led Growth Model
How to Build a SaaS Product in the End-User Era
Given the important role that employees within your customer’s company are playing in choosing which software to buy, here are a few best practices when building a B2B SaaS application that will attract those employees:
1. Make it free.
In the end-user era, your enterprise customers’ employees will be the ones advocating for your SaaS apps within their organizations. But many of those employees will have no company approval to purchase software, or anything else, directly. If you hope to enlist their help in championing your product over others, you’ll need to let them experience the product for free.
This could mean making a basic version available for free indefinitely and charging for more advanced features. Think of Slack. That company makes a bare-bones version of its digital-workspace platform free.
But if an enterprise wants to add more instant-messaging capacity, or add more sophisticated video calling capability, the company will need to upgrade to a paid version of Slack.
2. Build a network effect in the product.
The network effect describes a product that becomes more valuable to its user base as it gains more users. Facebook is a good example. When Facebook had 100,000 users in its early days, the typical person wouldn’t have found much value in it. The chances were low that the person would’ve known anyone else on Facebook. But when Facebook reached 100,000,000 users, it became more interesting to the typical person.
Slack also offers a good example of this best practice. The more of a company’s employees sign up for a Slack account and use the platform on a regular basis, the more useful Slack becomes to each of those employees.
If you’re going to build a SaaS product with the end-user era in mind, you’ll want to make it appealing for one employee at your prospect’s company to encourage their colleagues to use it as well.
Eventually, the user count in that organization will reach a critical mass—and many employees will be asking their executives to buy your upgraded “professional” or “enterprise” packages.
3. Solve the end user’s problem.
A SaaS product team that hopes to capitalize on the end-user era needs to build its product with the end user’s pain in mind. This might sound obvious, but many enterprise software makers instead focus on developing products that solve problems for the buyer persona—such as the company’s CIO or a department vice president.
To succeed in the end-user era, a B2B SaaS company should focus the majority of its efforts on trying to solve the end user’s problem. That means, first, learning about those employees’ challenges, concerns, needs, and goals. It also means designing a software product that zeroes in on solving one big challenge or helping the employee achieve a single key objective.
Employees don’t start using a B2B app because it does a lot of things fairly well. They sign up to use a business app only if it does at least one thing—something they need—extremely well.