Why Global Is the Next Frontier in B2B SaaS

According to Gartner, the Software as a service (SaaS) market will surpass $22 billion in 2015.  While SaaS is still a relative newcomer on the software scene, the market has become quite competitive as more and more companies have discovered the benefits of this deployment model and jockey to win favor with enterprise software buyers.



Language Has Moved from Nice-to-Have to Must-Have

In the early years of SaaS, many companies figured they could just get by with English.  After all, many businesspeople speak English, and some even have English as their official language in the workplace.  And, the SaaS model itself was a unique differentiator that enabled them to win business.

Not anymore. As we pointed out in this piece from the Harvard Business Review, customers prefer to buy in their own language. With all the buzz about “personalization” and customized user experiences lately, it’s amazing that so many companies overlook such a simple way to offer users a more individualized and tailored experience. Providing the software in their preferred language can make a huge difference not only in purchasing decisions, but in account retention.

International B2B SaaS as a Competitive Advantage

One of the great advantages of SaaS is that it enables companies to deploy more easily to customers. Likewise, since geography is less of a barrier with SaaS, carving out more revenue from international markets becomes easier too.

If you work in a B2B SaaS company, here are some ways that going global can benefit your business:

  • Sell more to existing customers. Chances are that you have businesses in your client base that are already global, and it’s possible that they have offices or branches in other countries. In fact, if your product has a consumer-facing component, you may want to offer content in other languages so that your customers can more easily sell to theirs. Having your product in other languages gives your account management and sales teams more upsell potential.
  • Charge more for your higher-value, global offering. Want to add value to your product portfolio? Taking it global adds another dimension of benefits to your customers, and many will be willing to pay for it. Many B2B SaaS companies recover the cost of localizing their product by packaging it as a premium offering, or limiting the language options to just certain types of customers. Some companies even charge an additional fee for each language or block of languages.
  • Make better use of the global traffic you already have. If your model involves converting visitors from your website into a free trial or a paid subscription, check out your analytics to see what percentage of customers are coming from other countries.
  • Head competitors off at the pass. Do you have a local competitor in another country who is quickly gaining momentum and popping up more in your home market? Beat them at their own game, and localize your software into some of the most popular languages in the markets where you’re encountering them – as well as some of the ones you want to gain early entry into. Just as you can use localization as a competitive advantage, so can your rivals. Don’t let them beat you to it!

The best part about going global today versus several years ago is that now, software makes it easier for companies to “plug in” to global growth instead of having to localize applications the hard way.

About Nataly Kelly

Nataly brings nearly two decades of translation industry experience to Smartling, most recently as Chief Research Officer at industry research firm Common Sense Advisory. Previously, she held positions at AT&T Language Line and NetworkOmni (acquired by Language Line), where she oversaw product development. A veteran translator and certified court interpreter for Spanish, she has formally studied seven languages, and is currently learning Irish. A former Fulbright scholar in sociolinguistics, Nataly lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t working, you’ll usually find her translating Ecuadorian poetry, writing books, and exploring the world (36 countries and counting!).