October 5, 2021 2021年10月5日
8个可靠的策略来预售你的 SaaS 创意
In the startup world, idea validation is becoming the norm. Pre-sales are without a doubt the best approach to validate an idea, as they provide concrete evidence that people are eager to pay for your product. We’ve compiled 8 proven strategies that will help you land pre-sales for your next SaaS idea.
在创业公司的世界里，创意验证正在成为一种常态。毫无疑问，预售是验证一个想法的最佳方法，因为它们提供了人们渴望为你的产品付费的具体证据。我们汇编了8个行之有效的策略，它们将帮助您为下一个 SaaS 创意做好售前准备。
The easiest way to run a startup project into the ground is to spend time and resources on something that the market doesn’t need. According to our research, 34% of startups fail because of a lack of product-market fit. This applies to all kinds of innovative projects, including SaaS startups.
最简单的方法就是把时间和资源花在市场不需要的东西上。根据我们的研究，34% 的创业公司因为缺乏产品与市场的契合而失败。这适用于所有类型的创新项目，包括 SaaS 创业公司。
Idea validation is becoming standard in the startup world. Without question, the most reliable way to validate an idea is to run pre-sales, as it provides hard evidence people are willing to put down money for your offering.
In this guide, we’ll give you a detailed breakdown of how to pre-sell your SaaS to make sure you are on the right way to product-market fit.
Why pre-selling is the best way to validate a SaaS idea
为什么预售是验证 SaaS 想法的最佳方式
Customer interviews, waitlists, and other soft ways to validate your idea are inferior to pre-sales because of one simple reason: they leave space for the niceness gap.
The niceness gap is the difference between the people that tell you that your idea is good and the actual number of people willing to buy your product in reality.
Since people don’t want to be mean and deflate your enthusiasm, they are willing to overstate how much they like your idea and how likely they are to use it. Because of this, even after running customer interviews, you can hardly feel safe your idea has been validated.
This is not the case with pre-sales. Money in the bank is hard data.
Of course, having objective proof of the validity of your idea is not only suitable for your level of certainty – it can be beneficial for fundraising, finding co-founders, partners, etc.
Furthermore, the feedback, if you ask for money, would be more honest. If someone declines to pay you, they would be inclined to tell you why and point you in the right direction of improving your idea.
Before your Start Pre-Selling your SaaS
在你开始预售 SaaS 之前
Here are the steps you need to undertake to be ready to pre-sell your SaaS:
以下是你需要采取的准备好预售 SaaS 的步骤:
Create some visuals and mockups to help you pre-sell
Selling a naked idea without anything to showcase is very hard. People need to imagine what you are offering them before they can confidently make a purchase decision.
That’s why mockups are a fundamental tool for pre-selling any kind of software. They are orders of magnitude easier to create than a working prototype while simultaneously being equally effective at visualizing the whole idea.
UI/UX sketching apps like Sketch, Figma, or inVision are the perfect tools to show customers what you plan to build. You can quickly and easily create a clickable prototype.
UI/UX 草图应用程序，如 Sketch，Figma，或 inVision，是向客户展示你计划开发什么的完美工具。您可以快速、轻松地创建一个可点击的原型。
For example, this SaaS for web designers made $1225 in pre-sales (25 copies) by creating a mockup of their idea.
例如，这个网页设计师的 SaaS 通过创建他们想法的模型，在预售中赚了1225美元(25份)。
Once done, you can animate your prototype with an animation tool (even simply “Keynote”) to create a video demo of the product.
For example, Brian Casel, founder of Ops Calendar, recorded a screencast video walkthrough explaining the product concept after animating some mockups with Keynote. This video was the main asset that secured him $3k in pre-sales in 6 weeks.
例如，Ops Calendar 的创始人 Brian Casel 在用 Keynote 制作了一些模型之后，录制了一个视频演示，解释了产品的概念。这个视频是他在6周内获得3000美元预售的主要资产。
You need to decide on how much you’d want to polish your prototype from a design standpoint. A prototype that looks well-made might help you attract more presales, but it might not justify the extra effort if you are planning to run tests of multiple iterations.
Build a pre-selling site where you take pre-orders
Once your prototype is ready, you need a landing page to help you sell it.
Creating a good landing page is more of a science than an art. Being overly creative can confuse your visitors, which would make them bounce rather than investigate further. That’s why it’s best to adhere to well-established industry practices.
Generally speaking, you want your landing page to include 4 main sections.
- Hero image + extremely short and accurate description. People need to get what you’re offering at a glance. The explainer video could be placed here if it is concise – otherwise, put it further down the landing page.
- 英雄形象 + 极其简短精确的描述。人们需要对你提供的东西一目了然。解释视频可以放在这里，如果它是简洁的-否则，把它进一步下降到登陆页。
- Call to action: Pre-order button with a price (ideally at a discount).
- 呼吁行动: 预订按钮与价格(最好在折扣)。
- Testimonials: Social proof is essential to give people the needed certainty to commit to a purchase decision. You can use testimonials from past clients, endorsements from people, press you’ve been featured in, and past successes in business.
- Last but not least – the mockup and explainer video.
To do this easily, you can use No-Code tools like Carrd and Webflow. Stan Rymkiewicz, the founder of Orapa, shared in this short interview how he used different no-code tools to put together a landing page and started selling right away.
要轻松做到这一点，您可以使用诸如 Carrd 和 Webflow 之类的无代码工具。Orapa 的创始人 Stan Rymkiewicz 在这个简短的采访中分享了他如何使用不同的非代码工具来建立一个登陆页面并立即开始销售。
Craft an excellent deal for early-supporters
Since the product isn’t ready and the customers will have to wait to access a working version, pre-sold products are generally offered with a hefty discount. They include various bonuses, such as customer support and closer involvement in the building of the solution.
Offering a great deal is important because if you don’t provide an incentive to purchase now, many of your (future) customers will prefer to wait until your product is done. This way, you wouldn’t be able to judge if your validation test is successful or not and if you should build the SaaS product in the first place.
提供一个很大的交易是重要的，因为如果你不提供一个刺激现在购买，你的许多(未来)客户会宁愿等待，直到你的产品完成。这样，您就不能判断验证测试是否成功，也不能判断您是否应该首先构建 SaaS 产品。
Here are some discount and bonus ideas:
- Lifetime deal. Headlime’s founder, Danny Postma, sold 200 lifetime deals in 48 hours (making him $16k), leveraging his 9k Twitter following and an email waiting list.
- 终身协议。Headlime 的创始人丹尼•波斯特马(Danny Postma)在48小时内完成了200笔终身交易(这让他赚了1.6万美元) ，利用了他在 Twitter 上的9000名粉丝和一份电子邮件等待名单。
- Discounted plans. PriceUnlock’s founder successfully pre-sold over $1,000 for his new SaaS idea by offering a discounted yearly plan and leveraging his website’s audience.
- 打折计划。Pricecunlock 的创始人通过提供折扣年度计划和利用其网站的受众，成功地预售了超过1000美元的 SaaS 新想法。
- Customer support through direct calls with the founder. It’s a win-win situation since it’ll also give you direct access to your future customers for customer interviews.
- Free migration or installation service to lower the barrier to entry (especially if your SaaS deals with a lot of data)
- 免费的迁移或安装服务，以降低进入门槛(特别是当 SaaS 处理大量数据时)
- Free consultancy (tailored individual attention for helping your first customers solve the problem you are targeting)
Use scarcity to your advantage
Scarcity could be another great tactic to nudge more hesitant potential customers towards purchasing decisions by creating FOMO.
稀缺性可能是另一个伟大的战术，通过创造 FOMO 来推动更多犹豫不决的潜在客户做出购买决定。
Strategies to generate scarcity:
- Make the offer to a limited number of customers. PriceUnlock’s founder limited the offer to 100 customers to generate scarcity and minimize refund costs if the project didn’t work out and they couldn’t fulfill their presale promise.
- Price increases as sales are made. Steph Smith used a tiered pricing strategy for her book, Doing Content Right, which meant the price went up as more people bought. This triggered scarcity and also helped her find the right price point/discounting mechanisms later.
- 随着销售量的增加，价格也随之上涨。史蒂夫 · 史密斯在她的书《正确使用内容》中使用了分层定价策略，这意味着随着更多的人购买，价格也会上涨。这引发了稀缺性，也帮助她以后找到了正确的价格点/折扣机制。
- Invitations to have access to the tool. Superhuman and Hey.com were built through an invite-only strategy. This is an excellent solution if you want to build “behind closed doors” while at the same time benefiting from invaluable customer feedback, retaining the possibility for a big launch event.
- 访问该工具的邀请。Superhuman 和 Hey.com 是通过邀请才能使用的策略建立起来的。这是一个很好的解决方案，如果你想建立“关起门来”，同时受益于宝贵的客户反馈，保留了一个大的发布活动的可能性。
- There are other strategies like countdowns and using numbers to show popularity.
Note: It’s essential to prioritize trust above marketing tactics.
Be prepared for objections, deal with them clearly
People are naturally going to be skeptical. That is normal – you are asking for their money with nothing to sell (yet). It’s up to you to earn their trust!
- State refund policy: Offer no-hassle refunds if possible to show trust. PriceUnlock is a great example once again: they offered hassle-free refunds and were willing to cover Stripe’s refund fee to give their consumers 100% confidence that they were not risking anything.
- 国家退款政策: 提供无麻烦退款，如果可能的话，以显示信任。是一个很好的例子: 他们提供无麻烦的退款，并愿意支付 Stripe 的退款费用，让消费者100% 相信他们不会冒任何风险。
- Write an extensive FAQ: A great way to do it is to write down any customer question that comes up more than once and add it to the FAQ. Remember that a lot of people expect to see all relevant information on your website.
- 写一个详细的 FAQ: 一个很好的方法就是写下任何一个顾客提出的问题超过一次，然后把它添加到 FAQ 中。记住，很多人希望在你的网站上看到所有相关信息。
- Create social proof: Use the first customers/fans’ reviews to craft that social proof. You can also use testimonials of previous products you’ve built.
- 创造社会认同: 利用第一批客户/粉丝的评论来创造社会认同。你也可以使用之前产品的推荐信。
8 Strategies to Get Pre-Sales for your SaaS
8个策略，让你的 SaaS 预售
Once the groundwork is laid, you need to go to work, and you need to do it smartly:
1) Leverage your Audience
If you have an audience on social media that is following you, you are in a great position to run validation tests and turn your followers into customers.
One of the best things you can do in this position is let your followers tell you what product/service/software to build.
Pat Walls did this well. Before creating his online course “Lean SEO”, he had been sharing for many months helpful information about his Programmatic SEO efforts and how he was growing Starter Story’s organic traffic. He’d tweet stats and strategies, share numbers in his monthly reports, etc.
帕特 · 沃尔斯在这方面做得很好。在创建他的在线课程“精益搜索引擎优化”之前，他已经分享了很多个月的有用信息，关于他的程序化搜索引擎优化的努力，以及他是如何增长的入门故事的有。他会在 twitter 上发布数据和策略，在他的月度报告中分享数据，等等。
One day, he tweeted:
Of course, Pat’s approach was made possible by his big Twitter audience.
当然，帕特的方法之所以成为可能，是因为他的大量 Twitter 用户。
Another excellent example of creators leveraging their audiences is the founder of “CSS for JS Developers”. He leveraged his 50k Twitter following to presell $50k worth of copies in 10 minutes, reaching $500k within a week.
另一个很好的例子是“ CSS for JS Developers”的创建者利用他们的受众。他利用自己在 Twitter 上的5万名粉丝，在10分钟内预售了价值5万美元的副本，一周内就达到了50万美元。
Keep in mind that what kind of people are following you plays a significant role in this. E.g., Pat was able to sell the SEO course because he was followed by a lot of people interested in SEO.
请记住，什么样的人正在跟随你在这方面扮演了重要的角色。例如，Pat 能够推销 SEO 课程是因为很多对 SEO 感兴趣的人都跟着他学习。
Moreover, a social media following is great for this, but the most invaluable resource by far is an active mailing list because of the much higher engagement percentage.
2) Niche Communities
Having direct involvement in a niche community with a high concentration of likely users of your (future) product is a great idea.
When interacting with such communities, the number one rule is to become an organic, valuable member of the community rather than interacting with it to advertise your offering. You need to help people without expecting anything in return and genuinely interact with people who could benefit from the solution you are offering on a 1 on 1 basis.
For example, suppose someone is not happy with a competitor. In that case, this is an excellent opportunity to win a customer while genuinely solving a problem (i.e., without being spammy) while at the same time understanding the issues that your target users are facing.
Of course, this takes more effort than engaging your audience, but unlike the previous tactic, it’s practically available to anyone, not only to those who have an audience.
Many niche communities are hosted in Facebook groups. Content Snare’s founder shared in this post how he engaged in relevant FB groups to get 25 pre-sales for his SaaS.
许多利基社区都是在 Facebook 群组中托管的。Content Snare 的创始人在这篇文章中分享了他是如何参与相关的 FB 团队以获得25个 SaaS 的预售。
When pre-selling Ops Calendar, Brain Casel also made use of this strategy. He looked on Twitter, FB groups, and Quora for people asking for solutions and advice on content calendars in the previous 6-12 months. He founded 20-30, to whom he sent a message pitching them his SaaS. He got 6-7 conversations from there, which he turned into 4-5 sales calls. Besides, these calls made him realize the frustrations with the existing solutions and that his target customers weren’t hard to reach.
在预售 Ops Calendar 时，Brain Casel 也采用了这种策略。在过去的6到12个月里，他通过 Twitter、 facebook 群组和 Quora 寻找那些在内容日历上寻求解决方案和建议的人。他创立了20-30，并向他们发送了一条信息，向他们推销他的 SaaS。他从那里得到了6-7次的谈话，然后变成了4-5次的销售电话。此外，这些电话让他意识到了现有解决方案的不足之处，他的目标客户并不难接触。
3) Publishing and Promoting Content
You can create a blog with content that is directly related and useful to your target audience. While this can help with presales, the value of this strategy will keep increasing with time as your content starts ranking organically through some SEO.
In the early idea generation and validation stages, however, it’s crucial to actively promote your content because it would be too early for SEO to have an effect.
然而，在创意生成和验证的早期阶段，积极推广你的内容是至关重要的，因为现在对 SEO 产生影响还为时过早。
A great example of this strategy in action is the case of Encharge.io, which started publishing lots of content related to its target audience and earned $3,950 in preorder revenue.
They wrote a lengthy guide on “How I launched, marketed and sold my first SaaS – HeadReach” and marketed it heavily to SaaS people, entrepreneurs, and marketers, which were the potential audience for their new marketing automation tool.
他们写了一篇关于“我如何推出、营销和销售我的第一个 SaaS HeadReach”的长篇指南，并大力向 SaaS 用户、企业家和营销人员进行营销，这些人是他们新的营销自动化工具的潜在受众。
The post included some lead magnets asking people to leave their emails. After collecting 500 emails, they created a landing page with a hypothesis for a “Marketing automation software built for SaaS people”. They sent an email blast to their list, which resulted in 50 orders.
这个帖子包括一些铅磁铁，要求人们留下他们的电子邮件。在收集了500封电子邮件之后，他们创建了一个登陆页面，其中提出了“为 SaaS 用户开发的营销自动化软件”的假设。他们给他们的名单发了一封电子邮件，导致了50个订单。
Engineering as marketing is the strategy of creating valuable tools (calculators, widgets, browser extensions, micro-sites, etc.) to get your company in front of the eyes of potential customers.
While this approach is costly because it requires developers’ time, it can help you stand out from your competitors, who use regular content as lead magnets and can result in an ongoing stream of traffic if the mini-tool is valuable to the users.
The most significant benefits of engineering-as-marketing are:
- It doesn’t feel like marketing.
- The tools provide repeated usefulness (content isn’t generally re-consumed, but tools can be). Repeated visits give more significant opportunities to make an impression, collect a lead, or sell.
- It’s not a competitive acquisition channel yet (at least not as content marketing).
- It’s pretty easy to build such tools if you have developers in your team.
- No technical background is required for many cases because of the advancement of no-code tools (I.e., the marketing people can create some tools themselves).
- It can give you organic traffic to your website, and you can send people to other pieces of content or landing pages.
- Last but not least, it can give you high-quality backlinks (especially if you get press coverage). This can help you increase the domain strength of your website, making it much easier to rank your other pieces of content in Google for relevant keywords.
We were recently contacted by a software factory called UpTech, which had created a tool called Startup Blow Up, which randomly suggested reasons why your startup would fail.
最近，一家名为 UpTech 的软件工厂与我们取得了联系，他们创造了一个名为 Startup Blow Up 的工具，这个工具随机提出了你的创业失败的原因。
We liked the idea and shared the tool in our newsletter. They got +75 clicks, which may have resulted in leads for their software services.
我们喜欢这个想法，并在我们的通讯中分享了这个工具。他们得到了 + 75次点击，这可能导致了他们的软件服务的线索。
If they had created a piece of content on causes of startup failure, we probably wouldn’t have shared it, as we already have posted on the topic, as well as dozens of other blogs writing about it. Engineering-as-marketing allowed them to differentiate.
Guest posting is a great tactic that could have two significant benefits for an early-stage project:
- First, it allows you to leverage an established audience. This is extremely valuable because building your audience takes years which makes it an unsuitable tactic if you want to validate and test a new idea through pre-sales sooner rather than later.
- The backlinks from guest posting can help you grow the domain strength of your blog, which can have positive long-term effects on actually building your audience.
Of course, the obvious drawback is that every piece of content you publish on another blog (or podcast) is a piece of content you are not posting on your own. That said, this is not a big problem if you plan your content intelligently:
- Evergreen content that has a chance to rank on Google goes on your blog.
- 有机会在 Google 上排名的常青内容会出现在你的博客上。
- Narrative-driven, interest-grabbing content (that wouldn’t rank on Google because it doesn’t answer a specific query) goes on other blogs and links to your content or landing pages when appropriate.
Leo Widrich, Buffer’s co-founder, made great use of this strategy. He wrote 150 guest posts during Buffer’s pre-launch stage, which helped the social media scheduling app gain +100k customers.
Buffer 的联合创始人 Leo Widrich 充分利用了这一策略。他在 Buffer 发布前的阶段写了150篇来宾帖子，帮助社交媒体日程安排应用程序获得了超过10万的用户。
Reaching out to potential clients and business partners might seem highly inefficient in the age of scalable communication and marketing through social media (especially if you have a low customer lifetime value that doesn’t justify one-on-one sales).
In a way, however, it is one of the most powerful tools of any early-stage project. The main reason is that it allows you to gain first-hand experience of how various stakeholders perceive your business and offers. This is invaluable feedback in the validation stages, so not doing cold outreach is a big mistake.
Stan Rymkiewicz sent 100+ cold emails when validating his business idea for Orapa. He’d pitch the product, get on a call, and try to sell it. He got around 10 yearly subscription purchases in this way. These subscriptions included a 90-day guarantee and a 60% discount on average.
斯坦 · 雷姆凯维奇在验证他为奥拉帕提出的商业构想时，发送了100多封冷邮件。他推销产品，打电话，试图推销它。通过这种方式，他每年可以订购大约10本书。这些订阅包括90天的保证和平均60% 的折扣。
We also employed a cold outreach strategy for validating and pre-selling Scouth, our productized service offering remote talent scouting. Our cold outreach strategy centered on finding clients on Twitter:
我们还采用了一种冷延伸策略来验证和预售 Scouth，我们的产品化服务提供远程人才发现。我们的冷战战略集中在在 Twitter 上寻找客户:
We started by researching the competition on Twitter and found a tweet from someone interested in hiring overseas staff who had asked the competitor an unanswered question.
我们开始在 Twitter 上搜索竞争对手的信息，发现有人有意雇佣海外员工，并向竞争对手提出了一个没有回答的问题。
We sent an email to that person:
And it resulted in a new client.
We could also have found someone asking for technical support, new functionalities, or a refund through similar efforts and employed the same strategy.
7) Run Ads
The benefit of running paid ads during the validation phase is that you shouldn’t worry too much about the unit economics of the activity. Even if your client’s lifetime value is lower than your acquisition costs, which would make paid ads a lousy strategy for scaling your business, this doesn’t make it a wrong approach for validating your concept.
If you manage to get pre-purchases from such efforts, this would indicate interest in your offering and would be a positive signal for moving forward, even if this means abandoning paid ads in the later stages of your business.
Here are a couple of ad strategies to help you run your ads in a way that maximizes pre-selling your SaaS:
这里有几个广告策略可以帮助你以一种最大化预售 SaaS 的方式运行广告:
- Make an ad promoting your product name to start ranking on searches right away (before Google can index and rank your page organically).
- Promote a lead magnet rather than the actual product/newsletter.
- Retarget people who have visited your pre-order page but didn’t purchase.
- Bid on competitor keywords. 对竞争对手的关键字出价
- Focus on keywords with high selling intent.
- Create a few campaigns with different headlines to find which converts the best.
Headlime’s founder used Google AdWords to validate his SaaS idea. He ran various ad campaigns with different titles. Along with tweeting, this resulted in a pre-launch email list of 350 subscribers.
的创始人使用 Google AdWords 来验证他的 SaaS 想法。他用不同的标题开展了各种广告活动。除了推特，这导致了一个350个订阅者的预发电子邮件列表。
Besides that, he was able to A/B test the performance of different headlines, which he could then use for his landing pages.
除此之外，他还可以通过 a/b 测试不同标题的表现，然后用于登陆页面。
Kettle and Fire’s founder made use of Bing Ads instead. He built a landing page where users could buy bone broth. He purchased $50 worth of Bing ads and got some sales. In 2 weeks, he made $500.
8) Attend or Run an Event
Finally, a great way to test your offering is to ask people in person. You can do that by attending events (e.g., industry conferences) with a high concentration of your potential customers.
In a way, this is a strategy that has some of the benefits of guest blogging and cold outreach:
- You are burrowing the audience of the event.
- You are interacting one-on-one with potential clients/partners with helps you judge their level of interest and their willingness to commit.
Spiffy’s founder made excellent use of this strategy. He built his SaaS on top of another platform, and he assisted an event related to this platform. He shared with us:
“The spark that got us started was going to major industry conferences and showing off the mock-ups. They felt authentic on a phone as people scrolled even though it was just a picture… the software we started as an addon had a very tight-knit community, and what we were doing was thought to be impossible.”
“让我们起步的火花是去参加大型行业会议，炫耀那些模型。当人们在手机上滚动时，他们感觉很真实，尽管那只是一张图片… … 我们作为附加组件启动的软件有一个非常紧密的社区，我们所做的事情被认为是不可能的。”
Of course, it is also possible to organize and run your event (e.g., a webinar) with the same goal, but this is easier to do if you have a well-developed network.
For example, Aazar Ali Shad, Ecomply.io’s founder, put together 3 webinars on different topics and promoted them on relevant FB groups. The results were 5 pre-launch customers for $560 in MRR.
例如，Ecomply.io 的创始人阿扎尔•阿里•沙德(Aazar Ali Shad)就组织了3次关于不同主题的网络研讨会，并在相关的 facebook 群组中进行推广。结果是5个发布前的客户560美元的 MRR。
We hope that the strategies mentioned above and tactics for pre-selling your SaaS are helpful!
我们希望上面提到的战略和预售你的 SaaS 的策略是有帮助的！
When you plan to implement any of them, consider that depth is usually better than scope. It’s sometimes tempting to try too many things at once, but not putting enough effort into the tactics you’ve chosen can vastly reduce their effectiveness.
Do the prep work, choose one to three strategies you think you’ll be able to excel at, and generate some pre-sales!