Sometimes, this step comes right on the heels of the alpha test phase. Other times it’s weeks, months, or even years after the alpha test. Once again, even though this milestone has a fancy name, it is just another iteration in the process.
This step is important though because it represents your product being ready for testing by your users.
Now it really is time to share your new contraption with the world! Since you’ve done an outstanding job of maintaining your relationship with the advisory board and building a community, it’s time to put that relationship to use!
In this step, choose a select few of these people and walk them through your product one at a time and get their feedback. Don’t just send it over to them and expect them to use it, actually meet with them in person or virtually and take them through the system. Get their feedback, understand their problems, listen to them, and most importantly make sure that they are going to pay for what you’re selling!
The more people that test your system, the more bugs you will find and user issues you will overcome. When you get into beta testing, people are going to ask for new features, you’re going to want to add stuff, and you’re going to be tempted to build more things.
My recommendation is to beta test and sell at the same time. Paying customers behave much differently than non-paying customers. They ask for different things and they see different things in the system. A paying customer is going to use a system to further their business, whereas a non-paying customer is not going to value the system as much, if at all. These are two completely different views on a product and you need the former, not the latter.
Next, doing your testing is a great opportunity to sell your product. Users know where the product is in it’s development cycle, so if you give them a cut price for a set amount of time, or even forever, they are still paying while mentally buying into the value of the product.
PROTIP: The SaaS build and launch process should be used as part of your marketing plan.