How to get clients to pay for new features

seems pretty easy. Client wants a custom feature, charge them more for it. But this is really a trap. SaaS businesses, generally do not want to build features for fringe cases, these are a resource suck can can be a distraction from key features in the critical path.


We also live in reality, bills and salaries need to be paid and burn rates set a timer on survival. doing custom features is a quick way to get that much needed cash injection.

What usually happens is the customer will ask the SaaS to customise aspects, to fit their specific needs, then, they’ll add in additional elements through scope-creep or simply because the original scope wasn’t clearly defined… what you have to appreciate is that the company (the client) is actually looking for a cheap way to build something custom, they see you have something close to what they want and if they customise it, they’ll make a big saving on having to develop the solution in-house, both in terms of time and developer cost. This results in the Startup falling into a trap where so much of their resources are focused on meeting the demands, that they no longer have resources for the rest of their clients and platform. If they’re unlucky, they end up having to get more bespoke projects to keep the cashflow to offset the burden of previous projects. If they’re lucky the features developed are reusable over the platform, but lets be realistic, thats not as likely since each client has their own very specific needs.

So what to do?

customising and charging a fee is a realistic option so long as you have control. either you control by limiting the scope, or by dictating the time. so the question then becomes how can you negotiate to retain control over these two elements… ultimately its about cost, so if you can get the client to pay up front, but you’re doing it at a cost far lower than if they build bespoke, and you retain control over specifications of the feature and timing, thats the ideal outcome. The dilemma is how can you afford to drop the cost? the answer, surprisingly simple, amortise the cost over multiple clients or client prospects. if you split the cost of the feature dev over multiple clients that will appear as a perceived discount to each client, if that discount is valuable enough for them, then you have negotiation leverage to retain control over time or scope.

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