User , Startups , Scaleups — 12.09.2022

Moving Up-Market? Here’s How Your Product Strategy Will Shift

Katie Lukes, Principal, Practice Lead — Product Strategy & Research

After years of building, iterating, rebuilding and selling to the small- to medium-business market, you’re finally seeing success and you’re ready to move up-market. 

But hold on. Have you considered all the details (some small, others large, but all important) that come with tackling an enterprise market? Chances are, there are some things you’re missing. 

Let’s talk about obstacles you may encounter when moving up-market and how to solve them. 

Don’t assume your new users are just like your current users.

Confirmation bias is the enemy of product-market fit. It’s common for product leaders to assume that their existing product, which their current users love, will be right for an enterprise audience. In reality, if you’ve built your product based on conversations with your current users, it may not be ready for other types of users. 

To solve: 

  • Conduct user, buyer and market research. Through research and in-depth conversations, seek to understand the pains, needs and preferences of potential enterprise customers. Don’t undervalue research — it’s less expensive than building the wrong thing and critical to identifying needs you may not know exist.
  • Fill in the gaps. Assess your existing product to look for gaps and adjust your roadmap accordingly. It’s likely that your product has room to grow, especially for the enterprise market whose needs are different from your existing market. 

Don’t overlook the table stakes needs of the enterprise. 

Because of security, governance and overall scale of teams of users, your enterprise buyers will have a set of table stakes features that they must have to consider purchasing, and they may vary based on size of enterprise and industry.

Enterprise customers expect:

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities and advanced permission controls. Big companies have more people, and more people means siloed information and increased security. Not everyone can access every bit of data, so enterprises need extended control and confidence in who can see what. 
  • Big data functionality. Not only do enterprise customers expect products to support large amounts of data, they need data entry to be seamless and fast — no more line-by-line manual entry. Features like mass imports/exports are deal breakers at the enterprise level. 
  • Functional integrations. Your product has to work with their existing products. If it doesn’t, you’ll face more friction when earning buy-in. No large organization is going to restructure their current tech stack to complement a new product, so keep that in mind when building your product. 
  • Suitable information hierarchy. Closely aligned with advanced permissions, information hierarchy is critical for enterprise customers. Enterprise users have more specialized and segmented roles, so their motivations for using your product are likely different from one another. Products like Plan Forward, a dental solution that quickly creates and powers dental membership plans, are used by entire organizations. An office manager completes different tasks and accesses different information than a dental office owner. Their workflows are very different. Your product must have a suitable information hierarchy for all types of users.

Watch out for the whale. Enterprise contracts are valuable for their size and term length, but that value means that their voices can be louder when it comes to product feedback.  As a result, you may find enterprise users asking for very specific, one-off features, becoming the whale that swamps your product roadmap. While it’s important to keep users at the center of your product design, don’t rush to make alterations to your roadmap with the promise of an enterprise contract. 

To solve: 

  • Be careful which enterprises you target. Not every enterprise will want to work the way your product works today, and the ones who don’t are the ones who will make big demands that take over your product roadmap. Start with the ones who will work with your product today.
  • Invest in product management. A product manager can help you balance the needs of your users with your business goals to ensure your roadmap is on track.
  • Ensure your product is well-designed for enterprise use. Great product designers know which design trends and systems are especially useful to enterprise functions. 

Don’t treat analytics as an afterthought.

While measuring KPI’s is important for small- and medium-sized businesses, it’s imperative for enterprise customers. Enterprise companies have more specialized workflows and segmentation of labor, so tracking and visualizing data equips enterprise teams to measure activity and increase efficiency. 

Additionally, analytics help enterprise teams socialize their initiatives internally and earn buy-in. Analytics add value to your users by equipping them to clearly report the impact of your product and present that impact to their stakeholders in a way that makes both you and them look good. If you ignore or devalue analytics, you’re actually ignoring and devaluing your end users. Identify what the user needs and build from there. 

To solve: 

  • Seek product management help. Product managers will go beyond creating a run-of-the-mill analytics feature. They’ll centralize the needs and pains of the user, uncover what information is most valuable to them based on their needs and workflows, and prioritize items on your roadmap. Then, product managers will equip your product designers and engineers to create and build. 
  • Design an analytics-supported product that makes sense. Tracking data and displaying it in an arbitrary or confusing way is almost worse than not having an analytics feature at all. In other words, how you display information is equally as important as the information itself. Once your product managers have determined what to build, product designers identify the best way to display data so the user understands. 

Moving up-market can expand your market and grow your business. But if you ignore the differences between your existing market and the one you’re trying to enter, you’ll struggle to find success. 


  • Don’t assume your new users are like your current users. Instead, invest in buyer, user and market research and fill in the gaps. 
  • Don’t overlook the table stakes needs of the enterprise. Instead, watch out for the whale by being selective with which enterprises you target, and invest in product management and design. 
  • Don’t treat analytics as an afterthought. Instead, seek out product management and design an analytics-supported product that’s right for your end users. 

Looking to move your B2B SaaS product up-market? Find out how our product strategy experts can help.