We've arrived at Part 4 of Chameleon's Product Adoption Platforms (PAP) Buyer's Guide. This series aims to help SaaS buyers navigate through the process of adding a product adoption tool into their tech stack, from identifying the need for it to implementation.
Make sure you’re all caught up 🤓
So far in this series, we have taken you through almost all phases of the buying process: from becoming aware of product adoption platforms to considering buying one, and making an evaluation of different software.
Now, we have arrived at the last stage of buying: making the decision.
Decision-making in SaaS buying doesn't resume itself to choosing the tool that best fits your teams' needs and your stack – the path from this stage to implementation has a few moving pieces that need to be coordinated between both ends of the deal.
In this part, we'll take you through the stages of procurement and negotiations, giving you some best practices and key factors to look out for when closing a deal. And since we wouldn't leave you hanging after making it all the way here, we'll also get you started implementing your tool of choice.
Once you have arrived at the stage of actually buying software, there are several things you have to remember in order to ensure everything proceeds smoothly without any problems.
First, establish a standard procedure and criteria for procurement
Second, make sure you negotiate and explicitly establish baseline expectations from the vendor.
Lastly, for the most effective implementation, closely work with user data.
Want more detail on how to best handle the buying stage? Read on to find out!
The Procurement #
Procurement is the fancy term for procuring or obtaining a product or service. Unlike our everyday purchases, buying B2B SaaS doesn't happen by just swiping (or tapping) a credit card.
During procurement, a lot of back and forth happens between both ends of the deal to ensure that everything checks out in legal and structural terms. This is when security and compliance clearances happen and probably where active involvement from leadership and other teams will be most required.
Let's start by recapping some of the best practices for buying before you kick off the procurement phase.
Have a criteria for what makes a product worth purchasing #
There are lots of products out there in the world of SaaS, each one capable of doing wonders, as long as they are deployed correctly for their intended purpose. But without a problem to solve, even the world’s best product simply becomes nothing but a line in the list of expenses.
This is why you have to set clear criteria for your team when it comes to buying products. Whenever any product purchase is brought up, ask yourself questions such as:
What problem does this product solve for your team? First and foremost, does the product actually address a core problem your team is facing right now?
How high of a priority is this problem? Is the problem you’re trying to solve super important, or can it wait?
Is the product within your budget? Is the problem so costly that it actually drains more value than it adds?
Is there a DIY solution to this problem? If there is a way to hack together a solution that works, and it makes sense to do so in terms of resources, then you should stick to that instead.
Such criteria may be different depending on what your team’s needs are and what industry you work in. But there are more critical parts that should always be checked for, such as security and compliance.
Set clear security and compliance standards #
These days, most SaaS companies deal with sensitive user data, which is why having the highest security and compliance standards is important when it comes to winning the trust of your clients.
This also extends to all the products that you use. Let’s say you buy a tool for data analytics. If that tool does not meet the security standards that you uphold, then now your product as a whole has become less reliable for handling sensitive information from your customers.
This is why it is of the utmost importance to ensure every product you buy meets your security and compliance requirements. Other than ensuring there are no vulnerabilities, having a clear standard that everyone can follow lets employees know what they can or cannot run.
Establish security and compliance criteria that clearly let people know what apps your team can or cannot use, and gives good guidance on how to navigate the web safely during work hours.
Also, having a tool that automates security and compliance monitoring like Drata can be very helpful.
Create a company-wide SaaS procurement process #
Let’s say a team needs to sign off on buying a new tool. Who do they ask for approvals? How do they know if there is a budget allotted for this? Who gets the final say when it comes to actually signing the contract?
If none of this is known beforehand, every purchase will end up involving too many meetings and discussions around it. For a small team, this might be acceptable, but as a company grows and its structure gets more complicated, you may be looking at quite a bit of drain on time and efficiency.
By creating a standard procurement process for everyone to abide by, you can reduce confusion around who approves what, where the money comes from, and everything else that may come with buying a new product.
Always have full visibility on all your SaaS purchases #
In many companies, business units and teams are given the freedom to purchase whatever SaaS solution they see fit for a problem they're facing. On one hand, this could be seen as an efficient process - why have teams be bottlenecked by all these steps and back-and-forths when you can just let them make their own decisions?
On the other hand, you'll have a problem when products in your stack build up and result in expenses that don’t really give much value as they should. Instead, they become a drag on your Return on Investment (ROI), only to be scrubbed later down the line.
Ensure that you have full visibility on all SaaS products you use across the entire company. Make sure that there is absolute transparency on the list of tools that all your teams have access to.
Maintain strong relationships between different teams #
As mentioned above, one rule of thumb for SaaS procurement best practice is clarity and transparency. For this, a good flow of communication between teams is critical.
A healthy relationship between your teams and departments motivates your employees to communicate with each other more openly, and also allows different units to better understand the needs of other teams.
Mutual respect facilitates processes to move faster and smoother. A stronger sense of stakeholdership motivates team members to be more proactive. The ability to trust that other team members have their best interests at heart means feedback is heard sincerely. Just imagine that the marketing team ignores warnings by the dev team on a product, only for the issue to surface after the purchase is made.
These are all non-quantifiable characteristics, but at the end of the day, they all affect the team’s ROI, because flawed communication and misaligned interests lead to waste and loss of value. This is why a strong relationship between different teams is a great way to ensure that procurement processes move efficiently.
The Negotiations #
So once you’ve tried a product and decided that you would commit to it, it is time to actually put pen to paper. But before all of that, you have to negotiate the terms of your contract with the vendor.
You may ask, why do you have to negotiate? Don’t you already know what to expect? Aren’t you basically buying what they advertised on their website?
Well yes, but there’s more. Your contract essentially determines what kind of relationship you’ll have with your vendor. It also outlines critical conditions such as how to terminate your contract, or what you can ask for outside of what has been shown on their website.
Simply put, this is where you determine what your rights are in this client-vendor relationship. So let’s take a look at what you should pay attention to during negotiations, and some best practices to remember.
Negotiations best practices #
First, let’s go over some best practices for negotiating your terms.
Negotiation is a process in which expectations from either side meet in the middle. So it’s really important that you set it all out on the contract, and align your expectations with that of the vendor. Set minimum required performance metrics and expectations around the level of service provided by the vendor. If those aren’t met, there should be an explicit agreement on what the solutions are.
Speak to your legal team
With contracts, a lot can be up in the air. If you’re wondering if something is worded okay, or if a contract is free of unseen risks, it’s best to get professional eyes on it. So talk to your legal team. Ask them if everything is kosher. SaaS contracts are usually valued at tens of thousands of dollars, so it is very much worth it to seek your company’s lawyers.
Create your own contract template
Contracts are often customized for each and every new situation. However, there are usually common requirements and boundaries that you are not willing to compromise on.
Plus, many SaaS contracts look similar in format to one another. This is why it’s much more efficient to have your own contract template that outlines your needs from a vendor.
This doesn’t mean that you should solely rely on the template. For every new vendor, you should customize it to what the conditions are.
Terms and conditions you should check for #
Here is a list of things that you should pay attention to and definitely bring up when it comes to negotiating your terms under your service level agreement and other paperwork.
If you’ve never haggled before, roll up your sleeves because pricing is one of the most important things you need to negotiate for when buying a SaaS product.
SaaS pricing, while it looks simple on the pricing page of their marketing websites, can be a tricky matter and can change depending on various factors like how many users you’re tracking, the premium features you need, as well as how much support you require.
One thing that you need to absolutely do, is to ensure that all your needs are reflected in the pricing. If you don’t need certain features, but require others in a higher plan, try to see if you could make a deal for that. Is it really important for you to have an unlimited number of users, but everything else you’re okay with the basic plan? See if you get that extra feature at a reasonable additional cost.
If you are looking to be cost-effective, try to see if you could get a discount. Perhaps for a longer-term contract, the vendor could be happy to shave off some percentage of the overall contract value. Maybe you can get an upgrade for a much lower additional cost than it would require. As they say, you’ll never know unless you ask.
Extra charges or additional fees can happen at any time for numerous number of reasons. Maybe there was an overage that you weren’t aware of. Perhaps one of your team members pressed a button that was actually a premium feature at an additional cost.
So clearly outline what those extra charges can be and have an explicit clause for them. This way, there are never any hidden fees, and you’ll always be aware of them when they happen.
How should renewals happen? Should they auto-debit the fee every time a new pay cycle arrives? Or do you want to opt for manual payment so that you can actually think about whether to keep the service or not? Do you want a payment notification? How long do you want it to come before the renewal? All of this should be explicitly detailed to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Level of support
No matter what the SaaS service is, you’ll inevitably run into issues. That’s why having great support is necessary. Whatever your needs are for support, lay it all down in the agreement so you can clearly establish expectations around it.
You can also explicitly outline how you want support to be delivered. How easy is it to connect with a sales rep? How accessible are they? What email address should you contact them by? Are there any other methods you can use to reach them? Will you be able to reach them at all hours 24/7?
Of course, the level of support could be contingent on the tier you buy. But it’s still important to talk about this in order to hold the vendor accountable to the minimum standards they set in each tier.
In the modern day of the cloud-based SaaS, you likely have access to the personal details of all your customers, as well as your employees. Should there be a hack on the product that you use, sensitive information from your company may get leaked.
In order to prevent this, specify data security measures in the contract, and ensure that your vendor follows them.
Data Backups and Recovery
For any number of reasons, your data could be lost. Or maybe you decide to switch to another platform. In those cases, you would want a backup of your data. Mention this in the agreement, and establish that the vendor will perform regular and frequent backups.
Also, set a reasonable period of time for data recovery. You don’t want to wait for months on end to recover what you lost.
Intellectual Property Rights
When you work with a product, a lot of information may be shared with the vendor either directly, or through the vendor’s platform. Outlining who owns what can prevent your data from being lost.
For instance, the vendor has full ownership over the source code of the product. On the other hand, you may have rights over any content you put on the solution. Clearly specify that in the agreement, so that you are protected in case you stop using the vendor’s service, or when you find that the vendor is improperly using what is yours to their benefit.
Like everything that has a beginning, there is an end. Maybe you feel like the vendor’s service is not up to par. Maybe you feel like you’re hung out to dry every time you ask for support. Or it could be that you just don’t need them anymore.
Whatever it is, have a clause for opting out of the agreement. Know exactly what it takes to be able to terminate your contract. This flexibility is very important because it is your right to be able to find the best vendor for you.
When in doubt, put it in writing #
In the end, your contract should work for you specifically, so it should be adapted to your unique needs. If you're ever unsure of whether to include something, or you think that a contingency may be possible, mention it. Put it in writing. Try to leave as little to chance as possible. Otherwise, it’ll be a ton of confusion down the line.
Now that you have signed the agreement, and paid what it takes to use the product, it’s time to really start getting value out of the tool. For that, you’ll have to implement the platform. Here’s how you can set it all up for success.
How to effectively implement a PAP #
The process of implementing a new tool into your stack is twofold: you have the technical process that involves the tool's installation and integration with your product, and then there's the adaptation process, getting your team adjusted to the new tool and evolving past what you experimented with in the free trial.
When it comes to the technical part, each product adoption software is going to have its own distinct way of how installation and full integration occur. By this time, your software has already been installed, since it’s a part of running a free trial, so what needs to happen next quickly is transferring the data from your other tools into your product adoption software.
Synchronize data #
In order to create effective in–product experiences that are well-targeted and provide valuable insight into how customers use and interact with your product, your product adoption tool needs to be synchronized with other product analytics and user data software in your stack.
For example, if you use Chameleon, you will be sending two types of information to and from the platform: user data and event data. Both types will help you enrich your understanding of your users and deliver better Experiences.
Your PAP can also collect data itself. Chameleon collects user properties like personal data that identify users to display targeted in-product experiences. Chameleon adds these to each user, and you can use them for further targeting or reporting. The default data includes properties like language, type of browser, first seen by Chameleon, or the number of web sessions.
Chameleon also collects events - the actions your users take - and you can use these to tailor Chameleon-built Experiences to be relevant and personal. The events include actions like Tour was completed, goal was met, exited Microsurvey, Launcher checklist was seen, etc.
Put your data to work #
Correlating events that happen inside your product when users interact with experiences like a product tour or tooltip is critical for providing effective in-product guidance.
Measuring the success of your in-product experiences depends on the quality of the data you collect, so to ensure that you're tracking the correct information, you must first establish what makes your experiences successful.
For example, to measure the effectiveness of an onboarding tour, you can use tour completion metrics – what proportion of users that started a Tour has completed it, and more. This is something that most product adoption tools will track.
However, a better indicator of success would be whether users performed a key activation action after the tour, thus indicating a positive impact on product adoption.
At Chameleon, we typically suggest that customers start establishing their metrics for success by identifying their product adoption bug.
A product adoption bug is a negative event within the user journey that can cause friction, prevent users from performing key actions, fail the activation of important features, and eventually result in churn.
Finding the adoption bug will make your goal for implementing in-app messages very clear, and hence give you insight into which metrics to follow. Explore some of the articles we have on measuring product adoption efforts below 👇
What's next? Stay tuned for the post-buy aftercare part #
Product adoption tools are powerful engines. The ability to quickly create and deploy new in-product experiences allows you to constantly offer users the most up-to-date and accurate product guidance and support.
However, getting the right tool doesn’t stop there. In order to leverage the full potential of product adoption platforms, you need to proactively manage how you get value out of the tool.
From keeping the experience flows updated, to building multi-channel strategies to communicate with users, we'll end this series with guidance on the aftercare necessary to keep the product adoption engine running.