14, Feb 2024


What Is the End-User Era?

The end-user era signifies a novel shift in the way businesses procure software. The responsibility of selecting enterprise applications to purchase is transitioning from company executives to the employees who will utilize these tools for their work. In the end-user era, both software developers and businesses are adapting their operations based on this newfound reality.

How Product-Led Growth Relates to the End-User Era

In recent years, numerous software companies have been embracing the end-user era by transitioning from a revenue-driven model to a product-led growth strategy. Under this approach, the product itself becomes the company's primary method for attracting users. Allowing people to sample the product for free has proven to be an effective way to entice new customers. Companies that adopt the product-led growth model provide their products to the public free of charge, sometimes offering limited-time free trials of their applications.

A product-led growth company offers a limited-time free trial of its application, with the option to continue usage for a fee after the trial period concludes. The ideology behind product-led growth is that by allowing the public to find and use the product for free, they will become acquainted with it and might even become reliant on it. When the free trial ends, they are more inclined to continue utilizing the product if they have to pay for it.

Product-Led Growth Model

The end-user era complements the product-led growth model. In other words, rather than the company deciding which software tools to purchase, it becomes the responsibility of the employees who use the software to make those decisions.

There is substantial data to support this theory. According to a 2019 research report from Gartner, it is estimated that by 2023, 40% of professional workers will be making decisions regarding which business applications their companies should acquire.

This shift grants employees significant power when it comes to selecting software for their companies. Software developers must acknowledge this trend and adjust their strategies accordingly.

App developers who prioritize product-led growth are reevaluating their efforts and moving away from large sales teams that target C-level executives within customer companies.

Their reasoning is that their software must be exceptional and user-friendly if they want employees at their prospective enterprise companies to start utilizing it in their day-to-day work. Only after a company's employees have become comfortable with a productivity software will the developers of that software be able to sell it to the company.

How to Build a SaaS Product in the End-User Era

Given the crucial role employees play in selecting software for their company, here are a few tips to consider when constructing a B2B SaaS application that will attract employees:

1. Make it free.

In the end-user era, the employees of your enterprise customers will be the ones advocating for your SaaS apps within their organizations. However, many of these employees will not have the authorization to directly purchase software or anything else. To enlist their support in championing your product over others, you must allow them to experience the product for free.

A common revenue generation method for software companies involves providing a basic version of the product for free and charging for advanced features. This is precisely what Slack does. Slack offers a digital workspace platform with limited features for free, and if an enterprise wants to access more instant-messaging capacity or video calling capability, they must upgrade to the paid version of Slack.

2. Develop a network effect in your product.

The network effect occurs when a product becomes more valuable to its users as more people utilize it. A prime example of this is Facebook. In its early days, when Facebook had 100,000 users, the average person would not have found much value in it, as the chances of knowing someone else on the platform were slim.

Slack also exemplifies this best practice. The more employees of a company sign up for a Slack account and use the platform regularly, the more beneficial it becomes for each individual employee.

If you are building a SaaS product, you want to make it appealing to one employee at your prospect's company, so they will encourage their colleagues to use it as well. Once the user count within that organization reaches a critical mass, numerous employees will start advocating for their executives to purchase your upgraded "professional" or "enterprise" packages.

3. Develop your product with the end user's pain in mind.

As a SaaS product team, you must construct your product to address the pain points of end users. This may seem obvious, but many enterprise software developers tend to focus on creating products that solve the problems faced by buyer personas, such as

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