Understand what's connected to what

We renovated our house a few years ago. The larger kitchen, new family room and the extra bathroom we love. The process of getting it built... not so much.

Though resurrecting "construction nightmare" stories might be entertaining for you and even therapeutic for me, I'm actually prohibited from revealing any details of the experience per order of a legally-binding agreement with the original contractor. Yup, that's how well it went.

Beyond the obvious "home renovation can be hazardous to your financial and mental health," I did learn an important lesson:

"Everything is connected to something else."

As in, "Sure we can extend the deck another two feet, but that's connected to the sub-floor over the new basement, so you're looking at <insert big dollar amount here> and another <insert big number of weeks here> tacked on to finish the project."

Or, "Of course, we can put in central air, but that system needs to be connected to an upgraded electrical system. Figure on < insert bigger dollar amount here> and another <insert even more weeks here> to do the work. And, by the way, we'll need to pull another permit."

When you're doing construction, if you don't understand the connections between different elements in the process, things can get very costly, very quickly.

The same applies to marketing SaaS solutions. In particular, you need to understand the connections within the "lead-opportunity-win" funnel. A couple of examples will illustrate the point.

"Sure you can quickly generate leads with a more aggressive pay-per-click campaign. But your system for generating leads needs to be connected to your system for nurturing leads, opening opportunities, and closing business. If you don't have the complete process in place, you're wasting your money on lead generation."

Or, "We'd be happy to add more inside sales people to convert opportunities into paying customers. But that process is connected to the proposal and contracting process. But if you already have a backlog of qualified prospects waiting for approved contracts, pushing more volume into that bottle necked connection won't yield more paying customers. The investment in new inside sales reps will be wasted."

I would suggest that much of the waste in marketing spending is due to folks not recognizing the connections between the individual elements in the marketing program. An email campaign, telephone qualification programs, or a webinar series may appear to be very effective by themselves. But unless they're measured in the context of the overall marketing program, they may not really be effective in achieving your strategic objectives. Things get clogged up as they move across the connections.

Given that marketing and sales expenses will likely comprise the largest on-going expense for SaaS companies, and a poorly devised and executed customer acquisition strategy is as likely to sink a SaaS firm as a poorly developed product, marketing people need to know how the entire program fits together. Understand what's connected to what.