1. What inspired you to build BetterProposals? How did you identify the opportunity?
Like most SaaS businesses start, it was a case of scratching your own itch. We were running a software company selling £30,000 solutions, every proposal mattered. Yet so many fell into the black hole of doom and you’d never hear from them again, never know how to follow up and all the time invested was lost.I simply wanted to know if they were actually reading it or whether they opened it, looked at the price and closed it down. After seeing our conversion rate shoot up, we knew we were onto something.
I simply wanted to know if they were actually reading it or whether they opened it, looked at the price and closed it down. After seeing our conversion rate shoot up, we knew we were onto something.
2. You have a wide range of templates in the library that fits well across multiple industries. Who do you think is your target audience?
It’s mostly web designers, agencies, marketers, designers, and the relevant connected industries because that’s the world I know. That said, we have chefs, hotels, recruiters, DJs, events companies, magicians and more. You’ll always have your outliers, but it’s 80% in that creative space.
3. Can you share some interesting facts about your journey? How much has the product changed over time? (Would be great if you could also mention 5-10 notable upgrades)
Sure, to start with, we didn’t realise how important templates were. It turns out, most people don’t have the first clue about what to write in their proposals. This will be a massive focus going forward. The core of the product has been mostly incremental changes. We actually spend a lot of time removing options and features as much as we do adding them. We don’t stick to this all the time but it’s almost one-in, one-out. Everything has to fight for its place.
4. As you know, messaging is one of the very important yet overlooked aspects of a product company. How do you go about it?
Be us. It’s only Sabrina and myself who handle support currently and it’s amazing. You get to know people, their businesses, industries, best practices, it’s great. As we’ve grown as such a monumental rate, it will get harder but for now, we’re enjoying understanding the issues on a deep level, seeing the words people use and how frustrated they get about certain things or how delighted they get about others. Until I literally can’t possibly do it anymore, I want my ear to the ground hearing the words people are using. I don’t want to see a bunch of categories on a spreadsheet at the end of the week. We’re also trying to be super responsive. All the time we’re awake and working, we’re near instant with responses.
5. What are the most successful channels for marketing your product?
Running a Special one-time deal is always going to be a big one. SEO has been another one and cold emailing.
6. If you would mention only a couple of biggest turning points of the journey so far, what would they be?
Deciding to go “all in” and quitting our other software business. No question. The only other two would be getting on board with WP Elevation, a training school for WordPress Consultants. Those guys have been instrumental in getting us in with a community. Our Special Lifetime deal has to be mentioned here. To get hundreds of new users in the space of two weeks all promoting you, loving your stuff and tweeting about you is amazing and really kick starts things.
7. How did you get your first 100 paying customers?
A combination of 3 things. Cold emailing. I would literally just email every web design company in the UK. I just Googled “web design London”, started at the top and worked my way down. We did some Twitter marketing too – just simply targeted our competitors with the biggest frustrations. “Tired of Proposify looking awful on mobiles? Try this”.
Harsh but you have to do your thing. Facebook Ads was another thing which helped but the biggest thing
8. How big is your team? What’s your plan to expand?
Our team is flexible. At the core of the team is Myself, I do marketing, design and content marketing, Sabrina is the product lead, Justin is in Enterprise sales, Tim is our strategy and advisor then we have Dido on SEO full time, Our core set of developers and then we have contractors we bring in for more specialist tasks.
9. Can you name 5 SaaS tools that you cannot live/run the business without?
Intercom has to be top of the list. Groove’s pretty helpful at keeping all our straight support together, Xero for accounting, Basecamp for keeping everything together in one place. I couldn’t work without those tools.
10. You have been handling Marketing & Sales for BetterProposals. Can you share some insights that will be helpful for fellow SaaS Marketers?
Yeah. Don’t sell. Your marketing should do 90% of the heavy lifting for you. If it isn’t, then improve that. When you’re selling you’re just finding a solution for someone. Removing that bias and just helping them is vital. We refer people to our competitors all the time when they say something is important to them that we don’t do well, or think is important. Be a problem solver, not a sales person.
11. Any advice you would give to Founders of SaaS products?
Just enjoy it. The struggles are the fun bits. Server crashes? Awesome! Get the coffee on and smash through it. As you grow you realise that your job involves doing media, higher level “sales”, phone calls, talking customers away from leaving, deal making with people who want to get their product in front of your list – the list is endless. Enjoy it while it’s small, scrappy and no-one’s watching.
Also – stick to your guns. If you know you’re right, stick with it.