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Updated: Mar 27

The world of SaaS is highly volatile, and losing a customer is only right round the corner. This is no truer, than when we’re discussing the onboarding period. The moment you’ve enticed a customer to sign up, you have a limited amount of time to prove your value before they look elsewhere.

For that to happen, understanding Time to Value is crucial, and tracking and improving this metric should become your first priority. It’s the barrier that stands between you and your churning customers.

This guide explains everything you need to know about Time to Value (TTV) in the context of SaaS onboarding. Along the way, we’ll touch on:

Use the links above to navigate to the relevant sections.

What is Time to Value?

Time to Value is the time it takes for a customer from when they purchase your product or service to reap the benefits in a tangible way. For SaaS customers, the moment of value realization is dubbed the ‘eureka moment’. The sooner customers see their return on investment, the more likely you are to increase retention and reduce churn.

The clock is ticking the moment someone purchases your product or service until the moment they reap its benefits. Although an important TTV goal is often ‘the sooner, the better’, product and work limitations may dictate how short this can actually be. For instance, if your product is associated with closing out the tax year, purchases in September will bring different barriers into effect.

Nevertheless, the shorter time between implementation and value realization, the better.

We’re trying to avoid being ‘deep’ here, but in order to fully understand and measure Time to Value, we need to know what value means. In this context, we can define it as the benefit your customer is expecting to achieve from your product. Keep in mind that we don’t describe it as the value you hope to deliver. This looks at the perceived value from the perspective of your customers.

Time to Money

In the same vein as TTV, time to money similarly measures the time between two points, but it is instead how long it takes for money your business earns to become available to use. This clock can start when a customer buys one of your products or services and the payment has been initiated, or when a client starts to owe you money.

For example, if you sell a customer a sandwich and they give you $3 in physical cash, the time to money for that transaction is 0. If the same sandwich is sold for $3 and the customer swipes their credit card, the time to money is then the difference between the time the card was swiped, and the time that money is in your account, typically a couple of business days.

A longer time to money figure will likely mean you need more working capital. When a business borrows money to pay for operating costs, faster time to money means they will likely borrow less.

Different types of Time to Value

There are many kinds of time to value. Up until now, we’ve only been discussing ‘Time to Basic Value’, and it’s important to note that the different types of TTV have different customer and business-based benefits. Not all of these have such a high focus on churn and customer retention rates.

Immediate Time to Value

Immediate Time to Value describes the value a customer can find in your product exceedingly quickly. We’re talking on par with the FLASH! (Not the Ezra Miller version).

This type of time to value is typically only possible with no barriers of entry, for example a tedious sign-up process. It’s a beacon to show off your product’s capabilities and attract a user to want more from you.

For example, easily accessible cloud-based video communications companies may offer a basic call feature, allowing you to speak to colleagues and customers for free from any location. This was a benefit many businesses capitalized on during the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees found themselves having to quickly acclimatize to the new normal of working from home.

In essence, immediate time to value provides customers with solution in just a coupe of clicks.

Time to Basic Value

Time to Basic Value is the time it takes new customers to recognize value at a relatively early stage of using the product. This is often the enticement that develops further interest and encourages them with ideas of even more value you can provide in the future.

A good example can be seen in any bar up and down the country. The basic value of your product can be recognized when a customer enjoys their first drink. This is what drives them to go back to the bar to discover what more you can offer, for which they’ll pay. TTBV is the first toe in the water that is commonly offered in your free trial and reinforces the power of freemium models. If you can show value straight away, your customers will almost inevitably stay close and spend more.

Time to Exceed Value

Time to Exceed Value is the time it takes for a customer to break past that first ‘eureka moment’ and discover the next level of value they were unaware you and your product provided. It’s perfect for customers to reach this point by the end of a free trial period, as this can majorly boost conversion rates.

Time to Exceed Value can still come further down the line in your product lifecycle however, and it can be a useful metric for a number of reasons:

  • Increase lifetime value

  • Create brand ambassadors

  • Develop long-term customer relationships

While it is by no means the eureka moment, and customers up to this point must still be impressed with the value they’ve seen, this is when customer satisfaction is ramped up to 11 and you’ve as good as guaranteed a loyal customer for years to come.

How to measure Time to Value

There are a number of strategies you can use to measure TTV. How successful they are depends on the specific software package you offer and the needs of your customers. What benefits do they want to achieve? What results have you promised them? Value for customers is not rigid and can come in many different forms. These include:

  • Increased revenue

  • Reduced costs

  • An enhanced experience for their own customers

  • A more efficient, streamlined internal process

  • A polished, high-quality product

Beware. Different customer segments will likely have different targets and ideas about what they consider value. A small business for example may care solely about cost saving, whereas a larger organization may want to hone in on creating smoother workflows for their teams.

Once the value has been determined for each customer segment, now you can work out the optimal time customers should achieve this value. Many SaaS customers can see value almost instantly in the time saved by the software. Other software products however, may only show their true value towards the end of a quarter.

Customer feedback is your golden goose when it comes to measuring TTV, to ensure they’re achieving value within the specified timeframe. Your customer success team can play a big role in this, using surveys and check-in calls to pinpoint the average TTV measure for your business.

What is a ‘good’ Time to Value?

As we’ve highlighted in this guide so far, when it comes to TTV, we consider the less time there is between implementation and value realization, the better for the business and its customers.

There is however, no such thing as a ‘good’ TTV in a general sense. Some products or services will naturally take much longer than others to fully realize value. We mentioned earlier about a hypothetical software that is used only once a year for tax returns. Its value can only be recognized when it gets to this point in the year. This is by no means a disadvantage, and the key with products that have a naturally long TTV is to discover alternate ways you can deliver value early on.

Tools such as an onboarding tour to guide new customers through the process, showing them how you will bring them much needed solutions from the get-go.

Delivering value early on is the key to successful SaaS onboarding

Driving early value delivery lays the groundwork for developing strong relationships with customers. Consistent monitoring and tracking of the above measures of TTV goes a long way to boosting customer satisfaction and retention. When you don’t have these measures in place is when it becomes difficult.

TTV is a metric concerned with customer onboarding and your Customer Success function is typically the one responsible for onboarding. CS houses all the important data and metrics that help to provide value early. Starting with retention and renewals, CS looks after customers at every stage of the onboarding process. This is why CS is the key function to provide value as early as possible.

How to reduce Time to Value

In order to decrease your TTV, it’s crucial to first find out your ‘Eureka moment’. As described above, this is the time when customers first recognize the value of your product.

As soon as you know what makes customers shout Eureka! you need to plan a roadmap detailing the best route to get them to it. Getting rid of any friction will mean more customers will want to stay to complete the whole of the onboarding process.

Multiple teams in your business will play a role in reducing TTV, but here are some of the most valuable tools you should be utilizing.

Create a customer onboarding playbook

In short, a customer onboarding playbook is a framework that your team can follow for every new customer, with the outcome of delivering a consistent, ideal customer experience. The end goal is ultimately for each new customer to realize the value of your product as quickly as possible, and a customer onboarding playbook can go a long way to achieving this.

For SaaS companies to drive value using onboarding playbooks, there are three main ways this is possible:

  • Track - Playbooks aid improved tracking of metrics, allowing you to effectively locate areas of underperformance or weakness against a timeframe. This can then be used to improve the internal process and realign your strategy

  • Coach - A playbook is a comprehensive guide for your team, helping them to plot the next steps in a process, and allowing them to take a step back to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s a vital tool for developing your internal operations

  • Scale - As an instant, repeatable process, utilizing playbooks is the perfect way to avoid depending on individuals who are always busy across multiple projects. This is THE way to scale effectively

Train customer success managers to tailor the customer journey

If setting up your product requires intense work, it’s advised to use a more hands-on approach. Personalizing the journey will help customers recognize the value much faster. Customer success managers can aid with set-up, offer personalized training sessions, and can be a very useful first point of contact for customers.

Invest in customer onboarding software

The final piece of the puzzle for decreasing TTV is to have the best customer onboarding software. With software for onboarding, so many processes become automated, not only dealing with much of the heavy lifting, but also improves your business’ customer retention and reduces churn.

Look no further than Precursive.

Keep your customers updated every step of the way by sharing your onboarding plan straight from Precursive. Gone are delays from sending spreadsheets to-and-fro when a plan changes.

With powerful customer onboarding analytics, you can create a scalable, repeatable process after thorough analysis of what will work best for you and your customers. Real-time reporting in Salesforce gives you up-to-the-minute updates on every customer. Precursive enables you to create optimized implementations to reduce delays and increase customer retention.

Customer Workspace in Precursive
Customer Workspace in Precursive


Next steps

This Precursive guide to Time to Value in SaaS onboarding has introduced you to what it is, why it’s important, and ways in which you can reduce TTV to ensure customer satisfaction.

Found it useful? You may also want to read:

Visit our customer onboarding software page to discover how Precursive can help you deliver an exceptional customer experience and shorten Time to Value. Alternatively, you can book a demo to see it in action for yourself.

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