B2B · Sales

Shortening B2B Sales Cycle

Ryan Selkis

February 15th, 2013

Friends - Struggling with a beta launch question and would appreciate
feedback. (Can be direct or reply all - up to you.)

*Context:* Good-Benefits helps companies manage employee giving programs
and helps people save money for their favorite causes in tax-exempt
charitable savings accounts. Think "401k for charity": we let users make
payroll gifts to their accounts, earn rewards like employer matches, then
grant money from their accounts to any charity at any time they wish. (With
one tax receipt, of course.) We\'re launching an MVP in March. The buyers
are companies (we\'ve got a few on board for the beta), but we\'re concerned
about scaling given the longer B2B sales cycle, especially for this type of
program.

*Issue:* But the individuals are the end users, so we\'re thinking that by
selling our platform B2C initially, we\'d benefit from better usability
testing data and (hopefully) having those users prove the value of our
platform (better engagement, donation rates, etc). In theory, that should
help us up-sell the full suite to our users\' employers. BUT, this approach
seems very different from other freemium models, because the up-sale is
made to a different customer than the free sale (B2B vs. B2C).

Has anyone faced a similar situation? Any advice? Think it can be done
effectively?

NOT trying to launch an MVP to two very different customer types, just
trying to be creative to shorten the B2B sales cycle and get faster user
feedback.

Thanks for fielding this one during Happy Hour!

-Ryan

--
Ryan Selkis
Founder & CEO | Good-Benefits, LLC
Boston, MA
C: 518-542-1077

Nick Fassler Product Manager at Yammer

February 18th, 2013

Ryan,

I like what you\'re working on (I\'ve spent a bit of time in the nonprofit
fundraising world).

My thought is that you will have an even harder time trying to sell B2C
than B2B. Consumers are notoriously picky, have extremely high expectations
for online tools/apps, and very rarely take out their wallets. B2C user
adoption might be a different story...you could try to gain lots of
traction from users with a free service (perhaps charging a transaction
fee, as most donation services do). But, you are also competing in a much
more crowded space for consumer attention.

I\'m using a similar model, and I\'ve heard over and over from advisors and
investors -- if you are eventually going for a B2B play, you should try to
prove early traction by selling B2B (even if it\'s extremely slow and
painful).

As an aside, user feedback doesn\'t require scale. Just like any data
collection, you can go for breadth or depth. If you ran 20 in-depth
usability tests with users, you\'d probably uncover 90% of what you\'d find
from 1,000 users via surveys, etc.

-Nick

--
*Nick Fassler
*Founder and CEO, Thrively
(415) 735-6317
nhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/nickfassler> <http://twitter.com/nickfassler>
<http://www.facebook.com/thrively>

Tony Rajakumar Founder/CEO at SnugBoo

February 19th, 2013


I agree with Nick. It's hard enough to implement one go-to-market strategy. Just go straight to b2b and see what the response is.

Having said that, think carefully about lead-generation. While you can just get a list of HR buyers and cold-email or cold-call, I think it would be far more effective if you can have one or more of their employees ask for it. That could be the accelerant you are looking for. 

Can you turn your b2c strategy into a lighter-weight lead gen tactic for the b2b play? I don't know your business, but I would imagine the charities might really like what you are doing, because they get regular payments instead of one-time donations. Maybe having them recommend you to their members how donate already might be a way to get lead-gens into the places that you can then leverage to accelerate. Keep in mind that acceleration is relative - b2b will be slow in comparison to the potential of a b2c play.

--Tony

Ryan Selkis

February 19th, 2013

Thanks, Tony! I appreciate the input. I think we're trying to use employees as lead generators like you said. The end focus is on companies, but if we can help individuals without losing money and sinking time in the process, then great! Cheers, Ryan