I see it time and again. Young B2B start-ups who rose above the fray and received funding along with positive press and awards, now begin to receive inbound interest and inquiries from big companies.
These inbound inquiries or “leads” were driven mostly as a result of their new-found publicity. The challenge I see for these young B2B start-ups (defined as offering a disruptive technology, combined with IP) is that the person who made the inquiry on behalf of the big company typically is interested in evaluating your cool technology. This person may have an idea for a pilot, but many times lacks ideas as to how it may scale within the Big company if the pilot is deemed “successful”.
As an example I just started working with a partner who two months ago received it an inquiry from GE. I asked them who from GE made and inquiry, what division were they from, what was their title/level of influence, and what problem were they trying to solve, etc. The answers were lacking…it became obvious that the partner was so excited (initially) to receive this lead that they immediately gave control to the Big company evaluation process.
The partner was two months into this and still struggling with “how to get the deal done.”
It took another 3 weeks and we now have a strategy, plan and “C-Suite” sponsorship. By re-positioning the strategy and approach, it turns out that my partner’s disruptive technology/solution and value proposition maps extremely well to two “C-Suite” sponsored corporate initiatives.
If these suggestions were executed on from the beginning, I think they could have had their first transaction done in two months.
– Develop a strategy and process of turning many Big company “leads” into a “C-Level” sponsored initiative.
– Develop a proactive strategy in targeting Big Companies…don’t just rely on a “Pricing & Plans” model, combined with sales/marketing 2.0 tools.
– Stop acting like you are a “point solution”…You are not the center of the universe…when dealing with Big companies, understand how you can leverage, extend and complement existing investments and infrastructure to create additional value.
Last Friday, Over 800 of Boston’s tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts gathered for the 2011 MassTLC unConference. As the unConference was being created first thing in the morning, there must have been over 100 topics proposed by audience members as they came up to the microphone to “pitch” their ideas for hosting and leading a session.
At the conclusion the proposed topics, there were just a few sessions mentioned that were sales related.
Over the weekend, I also read a BostInnovation post by Jamie Goldstein, Partner at Northbridge Venture Partners asking the following question: Are Boston Entrepreneurs Focused on the Right Areas? (http://bostinnovation.com/2011/10/27/be-bold/)
I see my observation as an extension to the main points in Jamie’s post.
Maybe the “if we build it, they will come” argument is stronger than we recognize? The lean start-up processes that many start-ups follow almost give the impression that you will be on an auto-pilot to success if you follow the program…meaning once to build your “MVP” and are ready to launch, all you need to do next is put up a “PRICING & PLANS” section on your website, install the latest sales/marketing 2.0 tools, and you will be off to the races. (Both lean start-up principles and web 2.0 tools are great…What I am saying is that a complementary, strategic, proactive approach in targeting ideal users, customers, and partners may be needed.) Some may argue that the “cost to acquire a customer” will be elevated, but if executed correctly, the ROI and swiftness to this approach can be huge. (THESE COMMENTS FAVOR B2B START-UPS VS. B2C.)
Are these sales-related topics important to our community?
Were you at the unConference…do you agree?