Top 10 Software Tools for SaaS Startups
When I launched my SaaS company, I knew very little about the incredible software tools available out there that really help startups to find their feet. So I decided to compile a list of 10 great tools that really offer a helping hand to SaaS startups – mine included! I wanted to take an all-encompassing view on this too, so I’ve identified tools in the areas of: product development, marketing, sales, customer support, accounting, and payment processing. It’s also important to note that several of these vendors provide financial assistance to startups, such as Microsoft Azure which offers $120,000 free credit, and Braintree which offers free processing for the first $50,000.
1. Product Development – Microsoft Azure
As a market intelligence and sales lead generation platform that scans the Internet and analyses millions of web pages each day, we needed to make sure that we had a good hosting service for our SaaS product. Microsoft Azure was the perfect choice due to its processing power, global presence, and security features. As a startup, we were able to take advantage of the Biz Spark Plus program: Microsoft is working with 150 startup accelerators around the world in a bid to boost its Azure cloud services. To help early stage companies get going, it offers $120,000 credit for organisations that qualify for the programme. Click here for more information about this.
2. Product Development – JIRA
A success story of Atlassaian, JIRA is a proprietary issue tracking product to manage bugs and tasks for the technical development team. For SalesOptimize, JIRA allows us to manage our software development and testing cycle in the way that suits our agile methodology. With its very flexible infrastructure and ease of configuration, it works the same way as our internal processes do. We can easily get to grips with and track what’s going on in our projects, centralising our tasks and documentation into a single location. And its low cost and cloud based deployment suits us perfectly.
3. Marketing – MailChimp
Email will be at the core of marketing efforts for any company, but it’s particularly important in a B2B startup to help build brand awareness and connect with your audience. MailChimp is probably the most effective email marketing tool to start off with, particularly due to its ease of use and free service up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. There are plenty of email templates to choose from to help you craft visually appealing emails, and they can be amended easily in keeping with your company’s brand guidelines. MailChimp also has a paid add-on called Mandrill – a transactional email API for sending tailored eCommerce messages and automated emails. For more information on why we like MailChimp and other great Marketing tools that help drive results, check out that blog post here.
4. Sales – Salesforce
A quick glance at Capterra’s CRM software category demonstrates the sheer number of CRM tools available in the market today. We decided to go with Salesforce, as it was the best fit for our business and many of our clients use it. By implementing the same tools as our customers, we could quickly test our own product integration into Salesforce and resolve any issues that they were having. We also found that Salesforce excelled on pipeline reporting and campaign management compared to other CRM tools.
5. Customer Support – Zendesk
Zendesk is a major cloud-hosted help-desk solution for a wide range of businesses, from small firms to large multinationals. The software is easy to deploy and implement, helping to lower costs, increase productivity, and ensure customer satisfaction. Zendesk can handle thousands of tickets every day, and integrates with your support channels such as email, web, chat, and social media. You can also access it from either your desktop or mobile device, making it a handy and flexible help-desk solution for small businesses that have a home-based, freelance support setup. Check out some of their offers for startups here.
Slack is a great cloud-based tool that makes the internal communications among team members not only easier, but also more efficient. It works very well as a collaboration tool in business because of its notifications (which are plentiful and customisable), direct messaging, and ability to share files with team members. It also supports audio and video calls, and has fully native apps for iOS and Android to allow you to use the tool on both desktop and mobile devices easily. Slack is definitely a top pick for online communication and collaboration tools!
7. Customer Satisfaction – SatisMeter
Help to grow your company and reduce churn with Satismeter - an easy to install tool that collects and analyses customer feedback. It provides you with a satisfaction score using real-time analytics from users who have rated your product. It also integrates into Slack, so you can immediately respond to any negative ratings, as well as thanking customers who are satisfied with your service.
8. Financial Reporting – Baremetrics
As you win more customers, the following becomes more important: churning, average monthly recurring revenue, failed charges, etc. So you should check out Baremetrics – a very powerful tool that provides SaaS analytics and business metrics, including:
- Monthly Recurring Revenue
- Net Revenue
- Average Revenue Per User
- Failed Charges
- Lifetime Value
- Revenue Growth Rate
- Per Plan Gross Revenue
- Per-plan Customer Count
- Per-plan LTV
- Per-plan Fees
- User Churn
- Active Customers
- Customer Growth Rate
- Annual Run Rate
- Cancelled Accounts
- ARPU Growth Rate
- Total Fees
- Revenue Lost to Coupons
- Other Revenue
- Per-plan Churn
9. Accounting – Xero
Xero is a cloud-based accounting and payroll solution for small businesses. It offers online invoicing, billing & banking services, and also integrates with banks, PayPal and other payment providers. It’s very easy to set up, run monthly accounts, reconcile bank statements, and its multiple layers of security means that no one can gain access to your organisation’s financial data unless they are invited to see it.
10. Payments – Braintree
When setting up your SaaS company with the intent to take payments online, you will notice the many different payment solutions available to you (here’s an interesting article about choosing the right billing system for a subscription based SaaS model). Braintree was our preferred choice for managing monthly subscription and one off payments, and it allows us to sell to customers on web, mobile, and we can accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, and more. Braintree also provides free processing for the first $50,000, which is very beneficial for startups.
These are just some examples of the multitude of software tools available for SaaS companies. They have really helped my business, particularly in the areas of: product development, marketing, sales, customer support, accounting, and payment processing. Managing a startup isn’t easy, especially as you try work your way up from the very bottom rung of the ladder. Any software that is economically viable and able to help you improve the processes and day to day running of your business will be a tremendous help. If you know of any other tools suitable for a SaaS startup that should be on our list, feel free to get in touch and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org