After 18 months in a B2B Software as a Service Business, I want to share a couple of lessons I learned how to address our markets with our products.
We build AI-driven software products, a software development kit teaching mobile phones reading. We can read any text in a real environment like utility meters, loyalty voucher codes, license plates, passports, driving licenses, or tire identification numbers – black on black background. Our business model is a B2B Software as a Service Model driven by our investors looking on Annual or Monthly Recurring Revenue and monitoring our churn rate.
There are no Excuses
The root cause for apologies in your Market2Order process is a missing or mediocre service level between marketing qualified leads and sales accepted leads. A lead can never be good enough qualified or never be closed fast enough after hand-over to sales. It is the understanding of personal accountability key to success. In a process flow, you cannot work like a flow-type heater or believe in Taylorism. It’s customer first, and during lead qualification, you need customer empathy on both ends for the customer and a seller. On the other hand, it’s the personal accountability of a seller to ensure a proper qualification service level – then we call a lead ‘sous vidre’ qualified.
Prospecting is the Hard Thing
In our core industries, we are very successful with face-to-face meetings at industry events. At these events, we can ensure the right customer empathy and gaining customer insights – so we can achieve both:
Making Markets for our Products and Making Products for our Markets
Nevertheless, we win with our innovative products anchor accounts, where we did not see a market before. After such a success, the tough manual work of Prospecting and doing the account based marketing is not everybody’s preferred work. Much groundwork, the real understanding of the use case, describing the benefits and build a story around the on-kind-wonder project. We are leveraging the Social Media Channels, harvesting contacts, emails, and phone numbers. Moreover, doing painful cold-calling. Not many people understand that selling starts with the first ‘No’.
Advertising and Pay-Per-Click
In the first years, the online channel and spending the marketing funds with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn will bring many leads and accelerate your growth faster than Prospecting and industry events. However, after a certain period, this lead flow will stabilize and not support the hyper-growth as expected when you start to segment your customer set and qualify your leads ‘sous vidre’. You need to invest more in personalized landing-pages, multi-language support, videos, whitepapers, and other for customer valuable content.
Mailing, mailing, mailing
Once you have the right content available, you can start a proper and valuable mailing campaign. A newsletter is not essential news for all your customers. You make the news as personal as possible. Follow up on the target groups and be as valuable as possible.
Webinars is for the technical audience
We do have monthly releases, and at least once a year, we launch a significant leap. Introducing this major leap to a developer audience in a webinar is the best way
for us to ensure customer success and minimize customer churn. We keep contact with developer audience and target for referrals.
KPI, KPI, KPI
Count how many leads you generate each week, measure how many calls you had, calculate the conversion rates, count the mailing contacts. Plan your events, schedule meetings before a marketing event. Measure your performance and honestly understand the implication for your Monthly Recurring Revenue and your Churn in your business model. You will need it anyway to explain to your investor, what you are doing with their money and it ensures clarity what your sales & marketing team is doing.
Having learned a lot about selling Software as a Service in the last 18 months, we still can improve our work with a channel partner, complementary solution vendors, and value-adding resellers. We drive business through system integrators – from the small digital agency to the global players, but multiple selling through our business relationships is by now rather a one-of-a-kind exercise or in other words, still enough to learn in the next 18 months.