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Recession-Proofing Your Software Revenue – Time To Value is Critical

December 08 2022
Written by Wes Nichols

Delivering proof of value (the ROI your client is making by licensing your software) has been a core focus for software CEOs. What is often overlooked is how fast the client can start to experience this value. The software industry has a wide range of ‘time to value’ (TTV): from complex integrations like SAP that can take years, to product-led growth software where clients jump right in to leveraging the solutions immediately. Are you happy with your company’s TTV? What product changes do you need to make to improve TTV in the next 6 months?

A quick time-to-value is crucial for a strong customer success strategy. Companies that can deliver value quickly:

  • Enable quicker sales processes
  • Improve customer success and experience
  • Experience better customer retention
  • Drive greater scalability

Time-to-value is the amount of time it takes for customers to start seeing value from your product – how quickly your product can deliver on its promises. Customers have limited resources to allocate to tools and initiatives so the faster you can show value, the better the customer experience.  And in recessionary times, proof of impact is critically important.

While it may sound simple, TTV is widely overlooked in SaaS as business leaders fail to recognize the impact it has on product adoption and revenue growth. The primary culprit of slow TTV is long onboarding processes. This can happen if products require custom integrations, buy-in from multiple stakeholders, significant changes to customer workflows, or extensive training. These are not always top of mind when developing products because products are built to be sold – we claim success when we win the customer. Through this perspective, a long onboarding process is just an inevitable requirement to enable ROI delivery. Instead, success should be when the customer wins. Actualizing the value of your product quickly should be a key priority for your company because it is a key priority for your customer.

Prior to joining March Capital, I led MarketShare, an analytics software company I co-founded. We were right in the middle of the aforementioned spectrum – getting the data out of the clients’ various repositories and into our analytics engine was always the weak link in time to value. Some companies are simply better organized with their data than others.  We invested heavily in innovative solutions to streamline that process so time to value was closer to 3 months than the original 9 months it would often take. Also, we created a ‘light’ software offering called MarketShare Benchmark that would provide immediate and actionable insights using lookalike variables, derived algorithmically through user-generated answers to a series of questions regarding their goals, business parameters, competitive landscape and the like. Those results, and the time to value, were nearly immediate and this became a fast-growing product line for the company.

At March Capital, we see this customer-centric TTV approach as a leading indicator of revenue growth and scalability because it reduces sales friction and improves customer retention time and time again.

Offering quick TTV is incredibly impactful in sales processes. Customers are inundated with a slew of tools claiming to solve problems for their business. The quicker your product can solve their problems, the easier their decision becomes. This is especially true as budgets tighten. We increasingly look for companies that can show immediate or near-immediate value. Being able to communicate this makes it much easier to win new deals.  Indeed, one of my board companies has begun offering a guaranteed business case – if they don’t hit the target revenue impact in a defined period of time after signing contracts, the client doesn’t pay.  The need to have a fast TTV for this company is obvious and it is working. And this has led to a 30 day deployment- substantially faster than before.

Once you do win the customer, the more quickly you can make them a happy evangelizer, the more successful you will be at keeping (and growing) them. Slow TTV lowers conversion rates, creates frustration, and ultimately drives churn.

Sales efficiency and retention benefits of quick TTV help drive higher valuations

Immuta, a leading data access control platform and March portfolio company, does an exceptional job of fast TTV. By streamlining workflows and implementing automation in the onboarding process, Immuta can show time to value quicker than alternative solutions. This has been a key ingredient to their success. Across our portfolio, companies are working on reducing sales friction and streamlining onboarding processes where possible to support expansion and customer success strategies amidst tightening IT budgets.

How long does it take for customers to become promoters? What processes take place between sale and value generation? Which of those steps can be eliminated by better product features? How many clicks does it take for the customer to be impressed? Are you investing in accelerating TTV?  Your competitors most likely are.  These important questions should be top of mind to develop great products that can create value for customers quickly and fuel scalable success.

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