Last time I wrote about the implications of the consumerization of corporate buying decisions for B2B messaging. What about sales strategy? If individual employees have more power to select products and technologies, then should we sell to these “Corporate Consumers” the same way we do to consumers?
Corporate Consumers make choices about smaller, one-off business purchases such as mobile devices, SaaS applications. That’s significant because it provides a revenue stream and an entry point into the company. In addition, many business purchase decisions involve larger numbers of Corporate Consumers as nearly invisible (at first glance) influencers. So you can use B2C tactics to create mass support for larger purchases.
Since these employees are making individual decisions, marketing aimed at individuals will most certainly sway them. Appealing to those influencers is how many companies (You Send It comes to mind) have built their B2B business… Apple has more or less been dragged into B2B by those same influencers. Corporate Consumer’s real power varies wildly, however.
And No. There are some uniquely B2B considerations:
- Recognize that those small B2C-like sales are really only beach heads. If you want a bigger share of wallet, maintenance revenue, long term contracts, etc., you have to shift modes – or more accurately, expand your approach to encompass both types of selling- and it’s best to recognize that dichotomy from the beginning.
- For larger purchases, you’ll need a way to harness the influence of Corporate Consumers. Ideally, you’ll want to gather data about individual use within each company. When going in for the enterprise deal, there’s enormous value and selling power in having better intelligence than the CIO about how employees are already using your technology. Short of that, be prepared with anecdotes from enthusiastic users within their company, and stats about business use of your product.
- Influencers don’t sign the check. You will still need B2B sales tactics to turn individual purchases into larger longer-term contracts.
- Many large corporate purchases don’t touch end-users at all. These are the big, complex, operational decisions deep inside data centers, factories, or other operational groups. Here you might cherry-pick a few traditionally B2C tactics, but the reality is that a direct relationship with a subject matter expert in your organization and a long-term account strategy are the real silver bullets.
Bottom line – if your product has a large end-user base within the company, invest in broad-base consumer marketing tactics, while still building the relationships with top decision makers. If very few people touch your product, don’t bother with the Corporate Consumers. There is a huge additional cost of sales to appeal to the masses, so make sure you really need that broad base.
More on this topic in this post