A buyer’s guide to evaluating SaaS products

Information overload: we’ve all been there, and it isn’t fun. Unfortunately, when you’re looking for a new software product to fill a business need, it’s easy to fall foul of information overload. There are hundreds of options out there, and it’s impossible to test every solution.

But this exposes you to the risk of choosing a product that isn’t right for your business, only to be ditched later down the line. It can cost your business time and money, and leave you worse off than when you started.

So, when it comes to evaluating SaaS products and providers, how do you ensure you choose the right solution for your business, without succumbing to information overload?

Step 1: Know what you want

Before you start looking for your shiny new software service, it’s important that you know exactly what you want. So, start by sitting down and working out the answers to these questions:

  • What are the pain points of your current methods?

Identify the fundamental issues with your current solution. Consider what isn’t working and how it could be improved. By identifying the problems that you want to fix, it’s easier to select products and features that will prove both relevant and helpful.

  • What do you want to achieve?

As well as the technical issues you want to solve, consider the overall goal of signing up for the software. What would a successful solution help you achieve? This could be something like improved customer satisfaction or optimised email organisation.

  • What features are the must-haves and deal-breakers?

Using the issues and goals you’ve identified, specify a set of features that the new software must provide. Focus on core features that will help your business, not novelty features that are cool but useless.

Step 2: Refine your selection

When you start evaluating SaaS products and companies, the sheer amount of options you’re presented with can seem daunting, and information overload looms. Instead of evaluating every SaaS solution you can find, be selective. There are a few pathways you can use to find the services likely to be most relevant to your business.

  • Look at successful use cases – are any of them like your brand? Alternatively, look for brands like yours, what solution do they use? Is it working?

By looking at the solutions that businesses similar to yours are using, you can identify popular (and not so popular) SaaS products that are likely to fit well with your organisation.

  • Don’t look at singular comments or reviews – take all of them into account

This way, you avoid being fooled by outlying successes and failures of the company. If 99% of the reviews are good, the 1% is less important.

  • Apply your criteria, and be ruthless

When looking at potential services to evaluate, make sure you’re armed with your must-haves and deal-breakers. By using the criteria of what you want to achieve, you can start to narrow down your choices by dropping solutions that don’t fulfil your overall goal or feature requirements.

Step 3: Evaluating SaaS products

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential services, you can start evaluating each solution more thoroughly, without facing information overload. When conducting a deep evaluation, be sure to do the following:

  • Use the demos close to your desired purchase date

Many SaaS companies will be continually updating their software. This means that the product could have changed if you wait too long between your free trial and your purchase. When you do come to using your free trial, evaluate how easy the software is to use. Have you already seen any results by the end of the trial?

  • Ask the companies – scrutinise the services

Don’t be afraid to ask the providers about their service. Quiz them on whether their service fulfils each of the criteria you set out in step 1. If not, can they provide that feature with an extra charge? Ask for more information – which companies have been successful with their software? What’s the average ROI?

  • Focus on long-term, not short-term

It’s common for humans to think in the short term and choose the most immediately beneficial option, with little regard to the long-term potential. When evaluating SaaS products, however, it’s important to think in the long-term. For example, paying a little more upfront and getting a great ROI later down the line is better than buying cheap and regretting it.

Choosing the right solution

Ironically, settling for ‘good enough’ just isn’t good enough when choosing your new software. By ensuring you know what your goals are and that the service you choose fulfils them, you’ll be away with the right solution in no time. Happy SaaS hunting!

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