Your B2B Startup Needs a Buyer’s Guide

Your B2B Startup Needs a Buyer’s Guide

One of the big differences between selling to businesses vs selling to consumers is the buying process. Most Consumer products are lower priced and purchased quickly because if you make a poor choice, you aren’t out much more than beer money. In B2B not only is there more money on the line, buyers often have to justify a purchase to their boss. A poor choice can cost the company big dollars and (often more importantly) damage the buyer’s reputation. This is precisely why a Buyer’s Guide is such a powerful piece of marketing content. It is designed specifically to meed the needs of a prospect that has been tasked with making a purchase decision. It’s a piece of marketing content aimed directly at the hottest prospects in your pipeline. The Buyer’s Guide is Targeted at a Critical Stage in the B2B Buying Process For B2B purchases, the buying process usually includes a stage where prospects try to figure out what their options are and which ones are best suited to them. For startups selling to businesses, this stage is particularly important. Often the solution is in a new or shifting market space and figuring out the competitive alternatives is a task in itself, nevermind trying to figure out which option offers the best combination of functionality, features, support, community, etc. For enterprise products, the evaluation phase might be a months-long process that includes a formal RFP process and/or a Proof of Concept. However for many lower-priced B2B solutions, the evaluation process is much more informal and looks more like a manager saying “Go figure out what we should buy and come back...
Startup Market Segmentation: 5 Steps to Selecting a Target Market

Startup Market Segmentation: 5 Steps to Selecting a Target Market

For startups, breaking your market up into addressable market segments is important. First of all you have limited money and people to execute programs, therefore you have to focus your efforts on the audience that has the highest probability of purchasing. Secondly, focusing on a segment allows you to build early momentum more easily – awareness and word of mouth builds faster across like-minded groups, and success stories resonate well across a segment of similar prospects. A key element of your company’s positioning is “Who are you selling to?”. It sounds like a simple question to answer but often for startups, a sloppy market segmentation is the root of a lot of marketing (and ultimately sales) problems. When I ask the question “What’s your target market?” I often get an overly simplistic answer like, “SMB’s”. That’s just too big to be a practical target market for a startup. You aren’t going to close business with every single SMB this year are you? Of course not. You are going to close business with a certain kind of SMB. A special snowflake sort of SMB that gets what you do, loves what you do, and will pay money for what you do. You’re going to sell those weirdo, magical, unusual SMB’s that are willing to ignore the fact that you’re small and broke and you’ve never really done this before. What makes those people so strange and awesome? The answer to that question is the key to your segmentation. “What are the characteristics of prospects that love my unique stuff the most?” Here are some steps to choosing a good market to target: Really get a...

The Strengths of Startups versus Big Companies

I gave a talk recently on startup sales and marketing where I covered some of the ways that startups are naturally stronger than big companies. You can scroll down for the slides from but what follows is a bit of color you can’t get from the deck alone. The natural strengths of startups aren’t always obvious. Often the idea of going head to head against a company that has much deeper resources than you do, seems counterintuitive, (particularly for marketing folks who are often overly focused on budget size – more on this later). Normally the comparison seems something like this: It seems a bit grim really doesn’t it? But anyone that’s spent some time working at a big company will tell you that the things that look like strengths from the outside are often seen as weaknesses from the inside. Here are some examples: Team Size: As someone who has managed massive teams and smaller teams, I can say for a fact that smaller groups are much more productive. The first problem you get with big teams at large companies is specialization. There’s a person who does copywriting, a person who writes code for the website, a person who manages the marketing software, a person who owns campaigns, a person who focuses on PR, a person who owns product marketing, and well, you get the picture. Now imagine that you want to react to something that’s happening in the market RIGHT NOW. Small, nimble teams staffed with generalists may not produce at the same quality level or volume of output but they can do it fast. Budget Size:...
Be Awesome at Startup Marketing and Sales: The Only 2 Things You Need to Know

Be Awesome at Startup Marketing and Sales: The Only 2 Things You Need to Know

Last night I gave a talk for a group of startup folks focused on startup marketing and sales. Like most of the talks I’ve done over the past year, this one tried to break away from focusing purely on tactics (i.e. tips on optimizing things like SEO, social media, lead generation, etc.) and instead focused on what an early-stage company should do to figure out what tactics they might want to choose in the first place. The slideshare below focuses on the 2 things I believe are the foundation. If you get them right, everything downstream works better. If you get them wrong, everything downstream can be designed and executed perfectly and you will still fail. A big thanks to Kevin Browne and Software Hamilton for inviting me. It was a large and energetic crowd. I also had the pleasure of watching a great round of demos including: Woof, Walkbug, Eventlyze, Who Wants to be a Nurse?, and Book a Meeting (and hey if any of you have links to your sites – let me know). I also showed up with laryngitis and I wish I could have taken a photo of the looks on people’s faces as I croaked my way through the first few slides. Thanks for hanging in with me until my voice warmed up – you folks are awesome Here are the slides:   Be Awesome at Startup Marketing and Sales from April...
6 Ways to Speed Up a B2B Sales Process

6 Ways to Speed Up a B2B Sales Process

I’ve spent my entire career working in or with startups that have sold to businesses. I love B2B. Businesses have burning problems and the money to solve them and I like revenue a lot. However, separating that money from those businesses is often difficult. The process a business goes through to make a decision about a $20K per year investment isn’t the same as the one you went through when you bought your last iPod. There are multiple people involved in making a decision, there are distinct stages in the buying process and hoops to jump through at every step. Closing a sale can take months and that can feel daunting for a startup that needs to drive some revenue fast. But just because the process is complex doesn’t mean there aren’t things you could do to speed things up. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in the past that have worked for me. Break bigger deals into chunks – The bigger the purchase the longer it will take for companies to evaluate and make a decision. Breaking a deal into phases (selling the base functionality first and then add-on’s later, rolling out a department and then the whole company, etc.) can help move deals along and get revenue flowing faster. Simplify your pricing and packages – I’ve seen deals go slow simply because customers couldn’t decide which options they needed to buy. Having fewer options on the price list or making it obvious which options a particular kind of customer needs can make making a decision much, much easier. Teach prospects how to evaluate solutions like yours – Businesses that...
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