5 Lessons for Growing a SaaS Business
Creating growth through partnerships
Many leaders struggle to create the rate of growth they strive for. This is especially true when it comes to growing a Software as a Service (SaaS) business. No one knows this better than Karl Pontius, CEO and Founder of ServTrax, a SaaS and managed services company. The ServTrax application, called TRAX, helps organizations track technology investments and the service and maintenance contracts that go with those investments. Karl took time out of his busy schedule to share how he has grown his SaaS business with GuideForce.
ServTrax has developed partnerships with technology solution providers to sell TRAX and deliver the solution to businesses. By using a network of solution providers, the company has been able to serve more businesses. The company has grown quickly over the years, largely due to its solution provider network.
With about 20,000 organizations using TRAX, it is clear this strategy works. Additionally, the company has witnessed and benefited from the dramatic shift from on-premise information technology (IT) solutions to cloud-based services, all while helping its solution providers grow.
Growing through Partnerships
For decades, instead of selling hardware and software to businesses, companies like Cisco, HPE, IBM, VMware and many others, have relied on solution providers to sell and configure their solutions for businesses. The solution providers serve as the channel to market for the hardware and software companies. With cloud solutions, the complexity of deploying these solutions has decreased because the businesses no longer own the technology assets. Instead of having large data centers with servers and network hardware, they let the cloud providers own the hardware. Solution providers that have traditionally focused on selling hardware, are finding it increasingly difficult to remain relevant to the needs of businesses. Enterprise and small businesses alike are expecting more from the solution providers they rely upon for technology solutions. Now, more than ever, solution providers need to deliver ever greater value to businesses. Solution providers that can deliver operational efficiency and accountability are earning the loyalties of the organizations they serve.
Developing a network of solution providers delivers high-impact growth. Here are lessons industry-veteran Pontius shared with us so we can gain from his experience.
“Prioritizing partnerships leads to opportunities for business growth.” – Karl Pontius, CEO & Founder, ServTrax
Lesson 1: Where there’s complexity, there’s opportunity
“Now, more than ever, technology solution providers need to boldly redefine the role they play in the value chain,” shared Pontius. As Pontius points out, the cloud has made it easy to source and deploy technology infrastructure, but easy doesn’t mean simple. As companies continue to acquire more cloud-based services, the complexity of managing and keeping track of the services and how they are being utilized becomes complicated. Due to the ease of access, anyone in an organization with a credit card can spin up a new service in minutes. Combine the need to account for and manage newly acquired cloud services with existing on-premise assets and service contracts, and the situation gets even more complicated.
Organizations, big and small, struggle with cloud creep today. Solution providers that can provide a solution to this complex challenge, while differentiating themselves from their competition, see the next generation marketplace as ripe with opportunity. Managing complexity and costs is a winning formula.
This is where ServTrax comes in. ServTrax has developed an asset and annuity management platform called TRAX. TRAX enables solution providers to deliver a system for addressing the complexities customers face in the ongoing management of asset and annuity agreements. ServTrax supports solution providers by helping them provide real value to the organizations they serve. The SaaS-based platform gives organizations a single view of their asset and annuity services – whether that asset is a cloud service, subscription, managed service or on-premise asset.
Lesson 2: Customization and white-labeling are key growth drivers
Here’s the crazy thing about the success of ServTrax: Most of the businesses using TRAX don’t know they are using it. That’s because ServTrax white labels the SaaS solution for each solution provider it works with. The solution provider brand look and feel are infused into the portal customers log into. Plus, TRAX can be easily customized by the solution provider to meet the specific requirements of the businesses they work with.
Taking a partnership-first approach is surprisingly rare. Yet, when considering how to create business growth, it’s a winning strategy. SaaS solutions are easily delivered via a white label approach and it doesn’t add a lot of cost. “The scale of the cloud combined with our channel partner strategy has allowed ServTrax to grow well beyond what we could have done selling direct to businesses,” says Pontius.
It’s a model that has worked exceedingly well for ServTrax. Giving solution providers the power to help their customers add process and control to the purchase and management of their IT assets has paid big dividends. Now, with a customized, solution provider-branded platform, the partner and its customers can see what, where, when, and how each asset is being used – or not.
Lesson 3: Don’t limit your view of the market. Large and small companies often face similar challenges
Today, even small businesses are challenged with the complexity of managing their technology assets and services. Many SaaS providers focus on deploying their solutions to large enterprise companies. While the enterprise often represents big opportunity, big growth opportunities exist within small companies as well.
“With the ease of access, companies are finding they have cloud services they have lost track of,” says Pontius. “People come and go within the organization and soon a company, even a small one, may have services they are paying for that are no longer being utilized. No one can afford to pay for technology they aren’t using. Many companies lack the processes to determine when a service needs to be discontinued.”
Lesson 4: Everything is cyclical. Be prepared when the pendulum swings the other direction
Watching trends and cycles can help you predict the future. Typically, when things move dramatically in one direction, there is a correction that follows. Knowing this, is an advantage.
The more-than-two-decade industry veteran has seen a lot since founding ServTrax. In the end, it all comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. It took a good decade for cloud services to really catch on. Now, the go-to means of acquiring IT assets is via cloud services. “Cloud services are not always the most cost-effective solution. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a resurgence of on-premise solutions for some applications,” advises Pontius.
Lesson 5: Data creates smart decisions
In a world where data is overflowing, it is refreshing to hear from a leader that has a means of utilizing data to make smart decisions. This has been another key to success for Pontius. Businesses need to use data to drive operational efficiency and accountability. Providing the tools to deliver savings and better use of resources is a big differentiator for the solution providers working with ServTrax.
“Our goal is to simplify the complexities of managing today’s distributed IT environments,” explained Pontius. It’s a simple formula, and it works. In the end, business is all about trust, and that trust is earned with solid business practices.
Let’s review the lessons we learned
If there’s one crucial lesson to learn from Pontius’ experience of growing a SaaS business before SaaS was cool, it’s that prioritizing partnerships leads to business expansion. Here’s a review of the lessons he shared with us.
- Where there’s complexity, there’s opportunity.
- Customization and white-labeling is a key growth driver.
- Don’t limit your view of the market. Large and small companies often face similar challenges.
- Everything is cyclical. Be prepared when the pendulum swings the other direction.
- Avoid monetizing data when it comes at the expense of your customers.
The closing lesson: Let go
If there’s a way to summarize these lessons into two words, it would be: Let go. Instead of trying to control outcomes, let go. Let your partners take the lead and focus on their success. The more successful our solution providers are the more success ServTrax has as well. Give partners the ability to customize your solution. Let go of leading with your company brand. Instead, grow your business by letting partners lead with their brands. The strategy of letting go has resulted in more than two-decades of business success for ServTrax.
Learn more about ServTrax at www.servtrax.com.
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