Before moderating my session today with Ryan Cantor, I had never really had a conversation with him. Not that I didn’t know about Ryan’s work at Thryv. And it’s not that our paths hadn’t crossed somewhere in the crazy world of local. We just had never had a chance to really talk. And talk we did during this session at Localogy 20/20. One of Ryan’s key points is that Thryv continues to have a legacy business and two sides of the business that are on the same directional vector but the metrics that matter to those two sides are very different. 

Ryan talks a lot about the notion of product-market fit and retention and he acknowledged that in the early days, Thryv made some mistakes when they launched their initial software. Ryan said something profound. “What you say to make a sale isn’t what you say to keep a sale.” In my mind, that belongs in the local, SaaS hall of fame. He spoke at length about the importance of churn and how Thryv has shifted its thinking considerably from sales acquisition to retention and usage. 

Digesting Customer Input

We also discussed how Thryv digests customer input. I suggested that being transparent is now an essential element of any customer experience model. Ryan responded that Thryv made an intentional decision to make user feedback an intentional feature of its software. When a customer has suggestions, the software asks the customer to prioritize their suggestions to help on the product side to see what is most important to their customers. He went on to say that their business advisors and customer success teams can use the platform to make product suggestions. 

Ryan and I also addressed the topic of how product management has shifted to a WFH world. He talked about how on some aspects of product management, the new world of WFH is pretty easy. Such as having engineers in remote locations. Other aspects are more challenging. Ryan acknowledges that in the early days of WFH, everyone threw themselves into their work and there was a big productivity boost. He talks about weekly stand up meetings as a key means of keeping people connected. Ryan also suggests that there are times when the team needs to connect in ways that are unstructured and unplanned.

Accelerating the Shift 

We spent some additional time diving into the notion of CRM. I posited that most SMBs would like to have had a fully functioning CRM. Ryan said many SMBs have their data in a variety of digital formats and forms. Their customer list might be in a POS. Or it might be in an excel file, or perhaps in something like ACT. Ryan pushed on the notion that service-based small businesses are booming – roofers, plumbers, etc. These SMBs know they have to move to digital platforms just to get paid. Thryv is operating under the premise that there are lots of businesses that will exit during these times. At the same time, many businesses that began in the last five years may have an advantage. The odds that these newer businesses are digitally savvy are pretty high. 

We ended the discussion with Ryan acknowledging that the business advisors that work for Thryv are having to work with their customers to consider ways to change their business models. I then asked Ryan to give us his prediction of what the SaaS for SMB space will look like. He talked about how he uses 8 million SMBs as the total addressable market for small business SaaS. Ryan concluded the conversation with a quote.  To be successful in the SMB SaaS space you’ll need to “be as interested in having your customers use your product as much as your interested in selling them your product.”

Product Management 2020
SaaS companies are under constant pressure. Some to improve unit economics, and thus they focus on retention and LTV. Others to scale quickly, and in response, they drive sales to its limits. Still, others to chase the latest flashy product innovation, and as a result, they put the CTO in charge of product. The top SaaS companies are building products and features that solve real customer needs … but how do you accomplish that with COVID-19 customer and developer interaction challenges?

Ryan Cantor, Thryv
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