5 Time-to-Value Hacks

August 5, 2016

1:15 pm

“Time-to-value” is the term that refers to the length of time it takes a customer to get the full value of a given product or service. Obviously, any entrepreneur will want that time to be as short as possible in order to cut down on churn. Here’s a selection of tips on how to do just that.

1: Let Them Skip the Tutorial

Thomas Lee, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn, for Arkenea’s blog:

“I would recommend that companies should avoid long onboarding flows where they guide their user telling them what every part of the product does and how to use it. Users often just skip through this or find them annoying. Instead, make tutorials available for those users who want them, but let the users who just want to work it out on their own do so. If it is an enterprise product you can also sell training packages and services to the customers that need it.”

2: Trim Your Physical Purchases

If your startup is relying on owning rather than renting, it’s adding unneeded burden to your struggle to bring a product to audiences. Wait until you’re a little farther along in the lifecycle before buying physical equipment when you can rent or use the cloud services available: It’ll up your time-to-value, which will then grow your company.

3: Streamline, Don’t Add

Here’s David Barrett, Founder and CEO of Expensify, again from the Arkenea article:

“At Expensify we’ve focused most of the past 2 years on aggressively simplifying the product by automating away the cumbersome manual parts, while streamlining self-configuration during setup. There is no secret to the process or silver bullet to accomplish it, but it requires enormous discipline and patience to prioritize improving things that already seem pretty good, rather than adding more features that are just OK.”

4: Keep Up on Documentation

The RRE blog, which calls time-to-value “the most important SaaS metric nobody talks about,” has this advice:

“There’s nothing sexy or glamorous about documentation, but great docs can be a source of competitive differentiation. Look no further than Stripe, whose documentation is the stuff of legends (and a big reason why the company has grown as quickly as it has). Great documentation shows devs you care and it’s increasingly becoming table stakes, particularly if your product is technical or has an upfront integration burden.”

5: Define the Big Goal and Highlight Smaller Ones

One problem: The benefits of your service might take too long to be realized. Make sure you have smaller, intuitive goals along the way. Here’s how Rob Falcone, author of the relevantly titled Just F*ing Demo!, explains this time-to-value hack:

“It will likely take considerable time for the BIG outcomes – the millions of dollars added to the bottom line, the hundreds of hours of efficiency gains, etc. – to materialize. Ensure your product is not judged solely on the time to deliver these.

Rather, by clearly defining the measurable actions / milestones needed to get there, you’ll increase the likelihood that the prospect actually does achieve the big wins and have short term small wins to make both parties feel good about the process.”

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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