What’s so different about marketing business-to-business (B2B) anyway?
I’ve spent most of my career in marketing of business software and services, so I get asked this question a lot. How is marketing business software different from marketing a consumer app?
There’s actually some significant differences, and if you don’t remember that then you’re not likely to be successful with your marketing.
Here’s a list of the top 5 challenges in selling B2B software rather than consumer:
- Selling a Solution — If you’re selling a business app, then you have to sell a solution to a problem, not a piece of software. Ideally, you can tie the use of your software to a solution to one of the top three problems that keeps your target user awake at night. And then market that solution…
- More Than One Buyer – the purchase or adoption decision for a business application often involves more than one person. You don’t only have to market to potential users, but you also have to include messaging for other stakeholders, such as group manager, execs, purchasing manager or CFO, etc.
- Aligning the Ecosystem – If you’re marketing a solution (see #1), as you should, then sometimes that solution involves more than just your product. For example, when I was working for Intel we had to focus on software marketing with partners in order to convince users to buy a new PC – they don’t buy hardware, they buy software. So figure out which companies sell the other pieces to your solution, and approach then to do joint marketing.
- Longer Sales Cycle – for a typical business software purchase, it’s not as easy as having the user visit your website, read your great sales copy, and click to purchase or sign up. Even for a small purchase they may need to get their manager’s approval, or perhaps it needs to be included in the next budget cycle or reviewed with other stakeholders. That all takes time.
- Supporting Content Matters – B2B buyers expect to find good-quality marketing content about your software. At the least you should have a professional brochure, some case studies and testimonials, and a product data sheet. You can also write and publish white papers to market to your audience.
Remembering these 5 key differences will make it easier to properly market your business software. For additional help, check out the software marketing toolkit here.
This article posted today at VentureBeat is well worth a read if you have a mobile app and need to work on better monetization . http://venturebeat.com/2013/06/02/mobile-app-monetization-think-business-model-not-ads/
Here’s a quick summary of a few recent articles and blog posts worth reading, covering topics from influencing the B2B buy cycle, SaaS sales compensation, and what works in online marketing:
Selling B2B software? Even if you sell to the enterprise, the fact is that B2B purchasers gather a lot of their initial research on potential solutions online. That’s why having an internet marketing strategy (inbound marketing) is so key. Take a look at this recent article on ChiefMarketer.com about “Adjusting to the Web-Influenced Buy Cycle.”
If you’re moving to an enterprise SaaS model, then how to update your sales compensation plan might be on your mind. In that case, this recent blog post by Joel York at Chaotic Flow on “SaaS Sales Compensation Made Easy” may come in handy. Just remember that for SaaS you really need to focus on keeping customer acquisition costs (including costly sales comp) as low as possible – only use direct sales force when you really need it.
You can check out this recent survey by Go-to-Market Strategies on what worked & what didn’t in online marketing in 2009, in their report “Online Marketing Trends: What Worked in 2009 and What to Expect in 2010”. They found the best bets were email marketing and optimized websites, followed by social media tools.
As I’m sure any software marketer knows, more and more of the sales and marketing of software is happening online. Even for high-price enterprise software, much of the initial customer data gathering and lead generation is often done online. I wrote a recent page on Software-Marketing-Advisor with some key tips for selling software online.
In an article published today on MarketingProfs, “The Surprising Evolution of Online Marketing in Software Sales”, Jayson Gehri talks about the trends in software marketing online, and some tools that could be quite useful to software marketers looking to extend or simplify their online marketing efforts.
Selling software online is about two key things: First, clearly communicate the benefits to your customer (in language they understand, not geek-speak or feature lists). Second, allow the prospect to experience the software in as real a way as possible. Jayson’s article gives some useful pointers to making the most effective use of online software demos.
For some additional help with selling software online, take a look at our list of key tips here.
How important is software sales training? And what type of course or other training resource is the best choice?
Our question of the week over at Software Marketing Advisor is about recommended software sales training for selling offshore software services.
Obviously, the answer depends on what type of software you are selling. The approach to sales is very different if you are selling mission critical business applications versus a low-priced consumer internet software service.
Particularly for selling business software or software services, the most important thing to understand is that you are selling a solution to the customer’s problem, not just a piece of software. If you are looking for training options, look for a good solution selling option (whether or not it is about selling software).
Where do you start?
First, be crystal clear on the target customer for your solution… and don’t waste your time on leads that don’t fall into that segment.
Second, be a good listener. Learn to listen to your customer and recognize the phrases and concerns that indicate the types of problems that your software can address.
Third, know your software value proposition and unique selling proposition inside and out, and know how to communicate that to your customer after you hear them express the problem that you can solve.
Check out the rest of our response for more recommendations on specific software sales training.