I’m sure you’ve noticed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are everywhere these days. Tools like ChatGPT and Mid Journey are remarkably capable. If you haven’t taken them for a spin, I’d highly recommend it.
I’ve also written an article about what you need to know about AI if you live in the B2B SaaS world. However, I also want to help you from getting trapped by how overwhelming it can be trying to figure out what exactly you should do about it to take advantage and protect the interests of your B2B SaaS.
That’s why I wrote this article. I want to help B2B SaaS founders understand the most powerful elements and most effective strategies for leveraging AI.
If you don’t maintain your focus on the bigger picture, you’ll lose sight of the goal. The objective is not to force AI into every possible scenario for your B2B SaaS. In fact, that comes dangerously close to a trap referred to as ‘layering on a trend’ articulated well in one my favorite books on product positioning called Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. As a bonus, listen to my podcast episode with her here.
Instead, you need to remember that AI is a tool like any other which means there are situations for which it is the right application and situations where it isn’t. My plan is to focus this article around where I feel AI has particular strengths to help B2B SaaS companies succeed without becoming overwhelmed.
It’s easy to get distracted by the doomsayers preaching the end of people doing anything because our AI overlords are inevitably set to take over. Please remember that it can take a LONG time for new technology to be adopted. For example, my local subway system is now planning to rip out the archaic key card system they just implemented. So take a breath and don’t panic, you have time to figure it out.
You’re Still Building For Businesses
This content is for folks who are building B2B SaaS businesses. The emphasis here is on the B2B or business to business side. The AI craze is just another example of why I focus on B2B instead of B2C (business to consumer). Consumers can be all over the place with their objectives and goals plus those can change at any time for any reason as they often do. Businesses on the other hand typically have long term goals that they must stick with if they wish to see them through to realization. This is good to remember because it means your customers aren’t likely to abandon their long term goals just because AI has improved.
If anything, your customers’ objectives and goals will evolve with the new opportunities presented by AI. As such, you may get more questions about it and whether or not AI applies to your B2B SaaS which can help them so you need to be ready with an answer. However, your objective remains the same – help your business customers solve their problems in a more effective way. AI may be able to help you do this, and if so, it’s worth exploring, but if not then don’t worry about it because it isn’t relevant for you (yet).
The key here is to remain focused on the problems of your business customers. Don’t let irrelevant noise from consumers distract you from the overall goal of your B2B SaaS.
Eliminate The Bottleneck
I’ve been intensely studying what the latest generation of AI tools can do. My research has shown that these new AI tools are exceptional for converting inputs to outputs. As such, I’ve been leveraging them to eliminate bottlenecks in my business processes everywhere. Your customer has this need as well.
What you should be focused on is how to eliminate the bottleneck along the critical path for your customer. The bottleneck is the slowest step in their production process. If you don’t know what this is, find it and work to eliminate it through optimization. AI has significant capabilities in this area and can help optimize the ability of your B2B SaaS to solve this problem for your customer. Remember, the objective of your B2B SaaS should be to help your customer by solving their biggest problem better, faster or cheaper.
In terms of return on investment (ROI) for your B2B SaaS, you would be best to focus AI tools in this area exclusively for now. Don’t worry about getting carried away with all the supposed magical things AI can or will be able to do. Focus on what they can do well now to help you, help your customer achieve success.
You need to evaluate whether or not AI tools can help your B2B SaaS eliminate your customers biggest bottleneck faster or more effectively than how you are solving it today.
The Outcome Is What Really Matters
Inputs and outputs are great for eliminating the bottleneck, but what your customer really cares about is the outcome. For example, optimizing a process that isn’t along the critical path is unlikely to lead to the outcome they desire. If your B2B SaaS helps owners of car washes use less detergent to save costs and avoid EPA fines then you need to remain focused on that outcome. Don’t worry about how many air fresheners they have in stock – hint: that isn’t the problem worth solving.
You need to remain focused on the bigger picture and that is the successful outcome they desire. If you work backwards from there, you will identify the critical path of their operation. As you are evaluating it, look for the step in the process that sucks up the most time or produces the weakest results. That is your sweet spot, focus effort there until that step has been optimized then measure how much you’ve been able to move the needle towards a more successful outcome for your customer.
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AI tools can only help you achieve greater results for your customer if you focus them in the area in which they are most effective – eliminating bottlenecks. However, it is up to you to ensure you are focused on the critical path of their operations.
AI For B2B SaaS In The Wild
I built a B2B SaaS tool that leverages AI called Podcast Show Notes. Allow me to use it as an example of how your B2B SaaS may effectively leverage AI to eliminate a bottleneck along the critical path of a customer’s operation.
The (Consumer) Trap
As the remarkable capabilities of AI were coming at me left and right I got more and more excited about all the amazing tools I could build for the podcasters of the world. Good news is that I quickly realized that I was focused on the wrong objective.
I thought I would give everyone in the podcasting world everything they wanted, but that was the consumer trap. I wasn’t building for individuals, I was building for businesses and that meant a renewed focus on what podcasting agencies (businesses) needed.
What I really needed to do was find the appropriate problem worth solving.
The Real Problem (Bottleneck)
With my focus renewed on the businesses I wanted to help (podcasting agencies), I set out to find the biggest bottleneck along their critical path of operations. What I found was that it existed in the post-production work that these agencies were performing (mine included).
The slowest part of the process was also the most expensive to solve. Agencies were focused on figuring out how to convert an episode (audio) to great titles, descriptions, key points, etc. related to that episode which would encourage people to listen to their customer’s podcast.
I had found the problem worth solving.
The Better Outcome
Through the power of AI, I was able to build Podcast Show Notes which automates the step of converting a recorded podcast episode to powerful show notes that includes a title, description, key points and more.
I was able to reduce a time consuming and expensive step in the process from hours and potentially hundreds of dollars to minutes and just a few dollars. This was the outcome podcasting agencies really wanted.
The key is to focus on the outcome your business customer desires so your B2B SaaS can be laser focused on solving that problem in a better, faster or cheaper way.
There’s so much activity in the AI space that it’s easy to get lost and lose focus on what you actually need to do so that your B2B SaaS company can succeed.
Maintain your focus by remembering that you are building better, faster and cheaper solutions through your B2B SaaS for business customers and do so by planning to eliminate their biggest bottleneck along the critical path of their operations.
Once you find that bottleneck, evaluate whether or not AI can help you eliminate that bottleneck. If you can, leverage it. If it can’t, then don’t allow yourself to be distracted by it or force anything. Stay focused on your objective which will help you achieve success.
If you would like help figuring out how AI may be relevant for your B2B SaaS product, schedule time with me to discuss.
You may also be interested in my free 5 day email course on launching a profitable B2B SaaS business for less than $750.