The 22-year-old reached Q3 for the first time in his career after setting the seventh fastest time in Q2, but was unable to attempt a repeat in the top-10 shootout due to not having any fresh super-soft rubber.
He then ran as high as seventh in the race, although rear tyre degradation restricted him to 12th at the flag.
"It was a very powerful feeling, because you can use it for the future," he told AUTOSPORT.
"When you are able to manage such a lap in qualifying, it brings you to another level, which you can use to keep building even more.
"Maybe at some tracks we are not going to be that strong in qualifying, but at least to challenge ourselves to keep improving in that direction is very important."
Gutierrez admits he was disappointed to miss out on a first points finish, but believes the race is an important step in his career.
Having struggled in the first half of the season, underlying pace relative to team-mate Nico Hulkenberg had improved prior to him outqualifying the German for the first time in Singapore.
"Obviously [it is frustrating] but you give your best and in the race, I gave all I had," said Gutierrez.
"You always want to make another step, to keep improving and this comes together with experience.
"The race was another good step in my career and I am determined to keep going forward in the next races even though we have a difficult challenge."
The Sauber team has been impressive with Gutierrez's performances during recent weekends.
Head of trackside engineering Tom McCullough is confident the Mexican will build on his Singapore progress, particularly as his strong qualifying performance allows him to compare his Sunday performance directly to Hulkenberg.
"It was a very valuable weekend for Esteban," McCullough told AUTOSPORT.
He needs to consistently do that now, to put himself in those positions.
"To be able to compare himself with Nico on the same strategy will be very valuable for him.
"He will learn from that and that's the process. If he keeps doing that, he will keep getting better."