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This article lifts back the lid on what happens when the launch of an innovative product in the SaaS industry results in underwhelming sales. It can be confusing, but some factors influence the success of launches including target market knowledge, product need justification, the right marketing, equipped sales teams, correct pricing, and differentiation.

Launch failures can impact the team including COOs, so it is important to know actionable steps that can be taken including segmentation, customer-centered approaches, optimal pricing and sales strategies, using data, and automation to bring sales performance that aligns with the excellence of the product.   

It was a product failure that they really didn’t see coming.  

Burger King, one of the biggest fast food chains in the world, created a product they were convinced would disrupt everything.  


Satisfries were fries with a special batter that absorbed less oil. They had 20% fewer calories than regular fries. And they were tasty.  

Sounded like a no-brainer to them.  

But, when they launched, their sales did not skyrocket. In fact, sales didn’t even take a little jump.  

So what happened? Turns out it was a few things.  

  1. Many customers were cutting out potato products thanks to dietary trends at the time.                                                                                                      
  2. Others on diets went to food brands that have a healthier perception, like Chipotle.                                                                                                                        
  3. The nominal difference in calories – 20% isn’t enough of a difference to really make a change                                                                                                  
  4. The Price – a small Satisfries was $1.89, but regular fries were $1.59                                                                                                                                                                
  5. Customers couldn’t see the value. After all they only had to eat 20% less of the regular fries, and they’d still save 30 cents.  

It’s no surprise that franchises started to drop Satisfries right away. Out of 7500 branches in North America, 5000 dropped them right away, and the others phased them out.  

Bottom line is that Burger King didn’t convince the public of the value of Satisfries. And they didn’t understand their target market.   

As a SaaS COO, you might not be suffering with product failure. But maybe you had a launch for a product you found innovative and exciting. But it just didn’t connect with customers. Sales did not meet your expectations at all

Where does it come from?

The causes are fairly close what happened with Satisfries. There was nothing wrong with the product per se (just like chances your product is great and innovative). So what’s going on?  

No understanding of target market: Without good segmentation and customer data, you’re missing out on information about your customer needs. And the less you know the needs, the harder it will be for your product development AND marketing.   

Didn’t identify the need and justify the change: If your product doesn’t solve a significant customer problem, it’ll be hard for them to justify the time and money your product costs. Humans resist change, which is why the benefit of change has to be 3x greater than the problem before a customer acts.   

Ineffective Marketing: You can have the best product in the world, but if marketing and any communication isn’t up to par, your audience won’t know what’s on offer and why it’s worth buying.  

Unequipped sales teams: Sales teams need the time and data necessary to spot opportunities. And if the teams don’t know enough about the product, how the product fits into the current offering, it’s going to be a hard sale.   

The wrong pricing: Without solid information about what customers are willing to pay for a product, chances are the pricing will be wrong.  

No differentiation: SaaS is one of the most crowded markets in existence and customer loyalty is the lowest it has been. That’s a lethal combination! If products are differentiated from the competition, quite simply no one will buy them because they won’t see the value.  

You and the product

The sales backfiring impacts you as the COO.  

You’re in charge of driving revenue growth and meeting or exceeding sales targets. If the product fails, or sales stall, not only are you accountable for a drop in revenue, but you might have to tackle the perception that you’re falling behind your competitors.  

A failed product launch can also wreak havoc with your resources. You might be asked if your resources could have been allocated to a more cost-effective place. And then you face big decisions – does development now need less or more resource allocation to put things right?  

Your responsible for how customers perceive your brands and products, too. When a product flops, customers wonder what happened and might lose trust in your products as a whole, as well as the brand.  

And finally, it can point toward a lack of alignment between your development, marketing, and sales teams. This might take a lot of time and resources to figure out and resolve.  

It’s all a lot of pressure – pressure that you don’t need.  

What you as the COO need is time and space to do your job.  

What you can do to secure better sales with your next product

We’re a SaaS subscription business, so we understand how important it is to get sales to reflect all the hard work you put into your products. No one wants a Satisfries on their hands!  

So when you’re ready to go a different way, here are actionable steps you can take to make sure you profit from your next innovative product: 

Center existing customers – Every SaaS company’s searching for the elusive Customer Lifetime Value. It’s like gold. And the quickest way to boost it is to priortize existing customers. It can be challenging because customer loyalty is low in SaaS, but retention climbs with excellent products, customer support, communication, and preferred pricing and payments. 

Know your target market and its segments: Segmented customer data hands you customer pain points, needs, behavior, and preferences on a silver platter. Everyone in your chain, from R&D to Marketing to Sales will understand what’s needed, making their job so much easier and impactful.   

Create the best sales pricing and sales strategies: Both of these have to line up with your segments, and make your product the most attractive and competitive on the market. Pricing should be as flexible and customer-friendly as possible, and sales should be given the resources what they need to convert customers at the right time.  

Use the data you’ve got: There are stacks of data in your system that are begging to be analyzed. That data can give you everything from trends, to what works and doesn’t, what your competition is doing, why our customers leave or come back, etc. It will help you make the best decisions.  

Adopt the growth mindset: Even if you are already excellent, there’s always room for improvement. Monitoring KPIs and continually getting feedback from your customers will show you your strengths and weaknesses.   

Automation: An end-to-end automation platform can do all these things for you. Imagine having these things automated and ticking over of their own accord:  

  • Customers found, filed and funnelled: Automation can sift and sort to find and segment your customers, then put them through different funnels depending on their needs and wants. That means that when you have new products, the system will know who will want them, when, for how much money, and even who should sell it to them.  
  • A streamlined sales process: Automation can take away the manual tasks and administrative burdens that sap the majority of your sales team’s time. When things like proposal creation, opportunities, quotes, pricing, and contract management are sorted, the team can give customers a speedy sales cycle and further nurture customer relationships.  
  • Data-driven decisions: Automation give you the information you need to make the best decisions. This includes real-time analysis and insights into both the customer world and your sales and marketing performance. Reporting will let you know where you’re killing it, and where you need to improve.  

That means you as the COO have the path to fast, ready-to-market, high-selling performance cleared for you.  

And that means your customers are satisfied instead of Satisfried.  

Ready to supercharge your SaaS revenue with automation? Discover how Bluefort can transform your upselling and cross-selling game.

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