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Documentation Is Important: More Valuable Than You Think

Documentation is important, gosh darn it.

I had a conversation with a highly experienced business owner late last week that gave me some feedback I found alarming.

We were talking about process improvement, and he told me what he thought about some of the copy on my website that mentions "documentation."

He didn't think it was important. Nor did the wording tell him enough about what my company does.

And it's my fault.

I haven't explained this well enough.

Documentation is important. Far more important than you think.

When people see that word, "Documentation," I can understand that their eyes glaze over.

It sounds boring.

"Yeah, yeah," they say. "I know about documentation."

After all, all you have to do is write things down...right?

And then you're documented.

No.

documentation camera coffee recording data information doodle process map

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Good Documentation Is The Key To Learning

Unfortunately, that's where the understanding ends for most business people.

And when they see that word, "documentation," their brains shut off. It's already dealt with. No big deal. Not even a problem.

Right there: that's the fail point.

When you think you've already handled something...that's the very item you should be reviewing.

Since my company documents other companies for a living, I can tell you a few things. Let's begin with this: most organizations are pretty darn poor about documentation.

They don't have process maps.

They certainly don't understand their metrics.

They did not choose their measures deliberately, instead abdicating that responsibility to some tech who came in to install their CRM.

Let's Change Your Definition of Documentation

Most organizations are way off when it comes to effective documentation.

Let me state this plainly: data collection is NOT documentation.

Especially data collection by default.

Have you noticed that many companies collect data...and then have no idea what to do with it?

That is a symptom, resulting directly from the problem of not having chosen good, business-specific KPIs.

Let me continue: if you don't document well, you can't learn anything.

The story will change over time, and the lessons you thought you learned will become invalidated.

Let's say you've got a knockout sales team of three people. They land a multi-million dollar contract and come back swaggering.

That's great.

But how do you repeat that experience?

The answer is to get busy documenting exactly what happened.

Documenting with clarity.

If you don't, two years from now Mary and John from the superstar sales team will be gone...and Sam will be telling a hero story that so aggrandizes his own involvement as the fulcrum of the sale you'll never be able to separate him from the results.

And how do you duplicate that?!

The opportunity to grasp exactly what did happen will have long been lost.

And your organization won't learn a thing.

If there's one thing I could persuade you of here, it's this: When you see the word "documentation" from now on, pay attention. Get alert. Look at it and its surroundings carefully.

What measures are being used? Data collected? Will they help you record a solid story, one that stays consistent over time, one that gives you the tools to derive repeatable results?

From my perspective, this is the key: the element that makes your company a learning organization. And you must become a learning organization to adapt and survive and thrive. Stagnant organizations who don't adjust and improve over time simply go extinct.

You say you know that.

But your documentation tells me otherwise.

>> Want to discuss your situation with Jason? Book a paid consultation so we can dig into it and really help you. <<

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How SaaS Vendors Get It Wrong

saas vebdirsSaaS vendors habitually have a critical problem.

And it leads them to do unproductive things in their sales and marketing process.

We'll be looking at these timewasters and sales losers over the next few posts. Here's a surprise: the same issues plaguing the field in 2007 remain today. For now, though, let's concentrate on the seminal issue.

A lot of SaaS vendors built something nobody wants.

The founder thought it was a cool idea. They went ahead and dumped the few, precious resources they had into their "baby."

What's the issue? They made it in isolation.

Look at that list of SaaS sales problems from 2007:

  • I don’t have enough leads
  • My customers want to customize my application
  • Getting new customers up and running is too long and hard
  • My prospects aren’t Internet savvy
  • My sales cycle is too slow and takes too much effort
  • My prospects always seems to want that one thing we don’t have
  • My prospects don’t have enough time or interest to talk to my sales staff.

These apply to ERP, accounting software and CRM tools as well, many of which are sold as SaaS solutions.

Why do you think these things happen? Does it sound like the SaaS solution matches up with the buyers' problem?

The Key Issue of Struggling SaaS Vendors

They didn't solve a problem a buyer said they'd pay to have fixed.

If you're one of the SaaS vendors, now you've got a real problem.

You've got a solution in search of a problem.

See, it's not what you say that gets people to buy. It's what they say.

Their problems. Their situations. Their specific language.

Yes, the terminology they use.

When you don't use the language your buyers use to describe the problematic situation they're in which your solution will get them out of, you miss your target.

What do SaaS vendors who don't know this do?

Run to features.

We'll be looking at this in more detail later, but nobody ever bought because of features.

That's why demos don't work.

Cranking Up the Number of Demos Is NOT the Right Solution for SaaS Vendors

Occasionally, if you run enough of them, a demo is going to accidentally match up a problem with your solution.

But this is an accident.

You won't really know why they buy.

And it's obviously incredibly inefficient.

SaaS vendors run into a couple business-killing issues when this happens:

1 - Not Invented Here syndrome, which makes them believe the only possible solution is to do more demos

2 - Burnout of tech staff forced to do unending demos and becoming increasingly frustrated with the results.

We'll look at each of these in greater detail in upcoming posts.

For now, though, if you're one of the crowd of struggling SaaS vendors, ask yourself...

"Did I build something buyers actually want enough to pay for?"