It's a new year and January (always our busiest month) is already in the books! I'm happy to report that December and January were our best months ever in terms of revenue growth, so we're off into the new year with some solid momentum. Let's catch you up on what we've been focused on so far this year!
After 4+ years of having our website built on Squarespace, we launched a completely redesigned website built on Webflow. This move made a lot of sense for us as Webflow is one of our most important customer acquisition channels and the most popular website builder amongst our customer base. That aside, we realized some pretty dramatic performance improvements by making this change. If interested, you can read that full story here.
As part of our website redesign, we decided to double down on our approach to sales and made an important strategic decision—we're going to scale Outseta without investing in a sales team. On a personal level, I'm increasingly fascinated by the idea that constraints are one of the great catalysts to creativity and innovation. On top of that, we've made no secret of the fact that we want to keep Outseta intentionally small, yet we're building an very ambitious (and affordable) piece of software.
This model and objective requires that sacrifices be made somewhere, and it was clear to me that building out a large sales team represented overhead that we could do without. This decision is also important because it will allow us to invest as many resources as possible into building the best possible product—I'm betting that will allow us to grow in a healthier and more sustainable way than building a robust and aggressive sales team.
So how are we going to drum up new business?
In short, by putting all of our cards on the table so that potential buyers have all the information they could possibly need to decide if Outseta is a good fit for their business. And perhaps most importantly, by building the sales process I'd want to experience as a buyer.
If you look at the primary navigation on our website, you'll now see a "Sales" folder. Within it are materials that include:
It's important to note that as part of this strategy, we'll always get on a call if prospective customers want to talk to us—but we'll leave you alone unless you request that time. Additionally, we're going to lean heavily into building a network of affiliates who publish educational content about Outseta and are incentivized to send business our way. Anybody can now act as a sales rep for Outseta—we'll provide 1-on-1 training and all the materials that you need, then you can earn a 25% commission forever on all business you refer our way. Very few SaaS companies have a commission structure that generous even for their own full-time employees.
If you're interested, you can sign up to be an affiliate here.
A few people have suggested to me recently that we're actually under-communicating product updates. Strangely, this is kind of music to my ears. I think the vast majority of SaaS companies dramatically over-communicate product updates, typically losing the attention of their audience in the process. Or worse yet, they resort to publishing a change log that nobody ever reads in the first place. I've been intentional about only sharing really big and significant product changes via these monthly updates, but taking that feedback in stride, here's a more detailed look at some recent improvements to our product.
The most requested feature specific to our chat functionality was the ability to require that users enter an email address in order to have a chat conversation. This generally will reduce chat volume, but ensures that you're able to capture leads and follow up with users who do reach out with questions. This option can be configured by going to the HELP DESK > SETTINGS > CHAT page.
One of the challenges for our European customers is needing to handle VAT (tax rates specific to each country in the European Union). Let's just say this—it's a huge pain in the butt for businesses in Europe!
In the first of several changes that we're making to better support our European customers, we released the ability to set tax rates at the country level. In order for the appropriate tax rate to be applied, European customers will need to collect a billing address during the sign up process. As long as that occurs, Outseta will then apply the appropriate tax rate based on the user's location.
Think of this as our minimum viable product for VAT, but it's an important first step that makes Outseta that much more useable for customers in Europe. More to come on this front!
We previously didn't allow Outseta customers to delete "Accounts" that had successfully processed payments—this was a protective measure so customers had a history of all past payments and didn't get into disputes with users when information about past payments suddenly went missing. While this was well intentioned, it was a point of frustration for customers and often resulted in unnecessary support volume for us when customers reached out asking us to delete accounts for them.
You can now delete accounts with previous payments if you wish—Outseta serve up a confirmation message to ensure that deleting the account was intentional.
This is an example of a feature that likely would have flown under the radar, but is really useful—each user can now customize the columns that display in the CRM (on the Accounts, People, and Deals screens). This allows you to configure the CRM to your liking, readily displaying the most important information at a glance.
It's worth noting that these filters can include custom properties. For example, one property that we care about is the total number of "People" that our customers have in their Outseta account. Our pricing is based in part on this metric, it's a good indicator of which accounts are growing, and it gives us a good idea of which accounts are likely to upgrade. I now display this data in our default CRM view.
One of the key benefits of using Outseta has always been that you need to integrate a lot less software, which in turn makes your tech stack less brittle and subject to breaking. That being said, Outseta is increasingly becoming what one user described as "the central nervous system of my tech stack." To that end, it's important that we make the product as easy as possible to integrate with other complimentary products.
We've long had a pretty robust Zapier integration as well as an API to make Outseta that much more extensible. But we collected a bunch of feedback from customers that were hoping to use Zapier in ways that we couldn't yet support, but were use cases that many of our customers would benefit from.
With that in mind, Dimitris invested a significant chunk of time making a big update to our Zapier integration. This included:
Our Zapier integration is now really, really flexible. And a teaser—similar support for Integromat might just be landing soon...
That's all for this month!
-Geoff, Dave, Dimitris, & James
We send two emails per month—that's it. One is a monthly company update, the other provides tips on growing early stage SaaS businesses.