Published by Helppier’s CEO Hugo Magalhães on Offline <-> Online Experiences

Some years ago I needed to buy a new car (my old car was literally dead). Today I compare that experience with buying software.

Some years ago I needed to buy a new car (my old car was literally dead). So I needed to decide quickly but also not rushing to buy the first car I saw. I decided to check 3 different brands at the time. After checking the features and the buying experience I decided to buy a Volvo. Security features were a key factor for me, also I didn’t want a more flashy car with a lot of extras.

During this process, I went to different dealerships and talked with several salesmen. But the experience I got was so different. Even between the same brand!

In the marketing funnel I was in the Interest phase:

User onboarding: Auto industry 🚗 vs SaaS - Offline vs Online experiences

Some things that happened


Experience 1

In the first dealership, me and my wife were quickly sent (or dismissed) to a junior salesman. Maybe because we wanted to test drive the entry-level car of that brand. This happened after answering some questions like what type of car are you looking for, etc.

The junior salesman decided that the best way to do the test drive was for my wife to go to the backseat. And for him to stay in the front seat. But this backfired quickly. 😅

The car had a lower ceiling in the back and my wife banged her head. With that experience, we saw that the backseat was small and dark due to the big front seats.

Needless to say that we didn’t buy that car! 👎👎👎👎

Experience 2

The second dealership (with another brand) had a curious problem. They were struggling to find someone to show us the car. It was not that the salesman was busy but the problem was missing in action. Great first experience! (Sarcasm)

We booked a test drive for another day. He arrived late.

Then asked a few questions, showed us around the car but had a hard time answering a simple question about the car. So we decided not to do the test drive. 👎👎

Experience 3

In this dealership, they asked us some common questions. What type of car are you looking for, etc. But it took a while for the salesman to do the test drive. He always seemed to have little interest in doing it, but it went well.

The salesman went to the back seat and quickly described the car. Its benefits, and main differences from other brands. ⭐⭐⭐

We did a second test drive in a different dealership with the same car and the experience was great. The salesman was very polite, answered all the questions. He also did one simple thing that no other did. A follow-up! Another curious thing for me at that time was that he sent me an invite on Facebook. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Now, what are the common experiences we get when buying a SaaS (a CRM system for instance)?


Experience 1

On the website, we signup for a free trial or free account (if the SaaS has one of these). Then we access the application with no help. And try to understand how things work by clicking on what seems best for the problem we’re trying to solve. A “Learn by doing” extreme! 😅👎👎

Experience 2

We only have the option to book a demo. This SaaS does not have a free trial. Then we get some lead random generation company to call us and qualify us. No demo, no information about pricing. Just a first call telling us that we will be contacted soon. Like a meeting to decide on when to do a new meeting!

The second meeting with a sales development representative would ask the same questions. And the test drive would be actually a PowerPoint presentation. The test drive would be actually on a third meeting that we declined. Sounds too farfetched?

I can only tell you that it happened to me a few times. ⭐⭐⭐

Experience 3

The free trial, free account, or demo is going well. We have “hands-holding” during the whole process. Either with great empty states or demo data guiding and teaching us about the software.

We also have some form of in-app messaging, an embedded FAQ system, and/or guided tours. We also get emails during the whole process. Either checking how the trial is going or by asking for feedback.

The SaaS company also sent us emails or showed us in-app messages when we finished a specific process. For instance, we got a congratulation the first time we upload a list of contacts or created the first deal.

Support is quick on answering your questions and helping you overcome any roadblock. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


As a SaaS company, we all want to give Experience 3 to our users, but that’s easier said than done.

Nurturing the customer along the buying experience is something to be set from day one. And improved many times and every time there is a new release of your product. It’s a continuous process.

Providing great customer support to users is often overlooked by SaaS companies. Can’t tell how many times I’ve waited weeks for emails to solve a specific problem.

We’re selling the user something very different from a car and on a different channel. Usually, there is no face-to-face interaction. So, many times, there is no way to interact with the user, understand its needs, or answer their questions. And, of course, do something as quick as getting the car keys for a test drive.

Software has several entries, exist points and pathways. When buying a car, the customer has one door to the driver’s seat.


To overcome this, SaaS companies need to use a set of tools to engage with the user at the right time:


💌 Email automation software to send nurturing emails.

🗨️ An in-app messaging platform where the user can contact support in case he/she has some questions.

💡 User onboarding tools to show welcome tours, tooltips, hotspots, or videos for the user to see.

❓ Survey software to ask questions before allowing him/her to start using the software. In this way, qualifying the user.

To top it off, SaaS companies also need to invest in product analytics. To check funnels, drop-offs, and other key performance metrics to improve users’ journey.


Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article!

I’m Hugo Magalhães, the CO-founder and CEO of Helppier. If you’re interested in guiding online users through beautiful tours, tooltips, and in-app messages, check our website.

In this Offline <-> Online Experiences publication, I want to share some of my offline experiences and compare them to common online challenges. Make sure to follow if you want to get updated. 😉

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