Things to be aware of when you’re thinking about B2B sales

There are huge differences when you are a startup selling to another startup, a small company, a mid size, or a Fortune 1000 company.

Startup to startup is generally very straight forward – neither have that much to lose and are willing to take risks, decision makers are easily accessible, it is usually a win/win, little regulatory and legal restrictions. But as you move up the scale, each sale gets exponentially harder and the payoff is that much greater. A $50k annual contract is a rounding error to a Fortune 1000, but closing the deal is not easy.

Here are some thoughts cobbled together from conversations I’ve had over the last few months.
  • Find an inside connection. Like raising financing, you need an advocate to help socialize and support your product. You may also need a shepherd, someone who can guide you thru and review/audit processes. Work your network to find a potential user of your product.
  • Position your product to be additive rather than a replacement. There are politics, allocated budgets, existing systems and integrations, and people involved with any product decision, so be an advocate rather than an adversary.
    Let’s say you developed a new enterprise content management system (CMS). Your target list of potential customers probably already have a CMS. It may be WordPress supported by WordPress VIP or Adobe’s Experience Manager. Chances are, they have integrations of all sorts with internal tools like PIMs and DAMs and external services like SalesForce or MailChimp. It’s nearly impossible for an upstart to come in a ask a company to rip out years of work. Instead add value to the existing ecosystem and fill in the gaps. For a CMS, that maybe a better user interface for content creation – drag and drop elements, responsive design, and multi screen previews. Get a toehold to being with.
  • Prepare for a long sales process. Large companies make decisions by consensus and are risk averse. There technology reviews, contract reviews and vendor on boarding. You also need to prove that you have longevity. No one wants to risk investing in a company or product that won’t be around after a few years.
  • Prepared to customize your product to their needs. There is a school of thought that says you should find a client to fund the development of your product. It is sound advice unless the client has very specific needs and nuances that will derail you off your product roadmap.
The industry and product also play a big part into the complexities of closing the sale. Pharma and financial services are heavily regulated, everything from the marketing copy on the homepage to the hosting producer will be scrutinized. CPGs are less regulated.

Content Marketing can bring in a whole new revenue stream

I was reviewing next steps with a client around their digital marketing plans – specifically content marketing and SEO. I was telling the client that we needed to beef up content that would help drive organic search traffic.

A salesperson in the room responded that the conversion from SEO traffic was very low and would drag down overall conversion rates, and even if we did convert them, there weren’t good customers.

Here was my response:

1. Organic search traffic is a relatively cheap source of prospect leads. The majority of the leads today come from networking and referrals. So the volume is low and conversions high as those are high touch sales channels. SEO on the other hand is high volume and low touch, which is a completely different way of thinking.

If the high touch sales funnel today takes in 10 leads and converts 1, that’s a 10% conversion rate. And that customer generates $100 profit.
From SEO, your leads are 1000 and you convert 5. That’s a .5% conversion rate. SUCKS! And each customer only generates $50 profit. But as a channel, it drives $250 in profit.
Which would you rather have? This is a very simplistic example, but don’t discount it without seeing the full picture.

2. Networking and Referrals bring in the exact same “type” of leads. They’re friends and all from the same small circles. This leads to a niche product. This is where the real opportunity lies. SEO will bring in a different type of customer. So create a different product that will convert them into better customers.

If you’re just starting on content marketing, keep this in mind – no matter how much you focus on a specific customer, you will bring in visitors that are different. It is your job to determine if those different visitors are good or not.

I see it as an opportunity to learn and see if your product can serve an entirely new audience and revenue stream, one that is currently untapped by you.

How to remove the color flash from the Genesis Agency Pro Theme

genesis agency pro background flash color

I’ve recently started playing with the Genesis Framework and I must say it is pretty impressive, flexible, and confusing all at the same time. I hope the confusion fades away as I get more comfortable.

Anyways, I recently installed the Agency Pro theme for a client. The theme is great, except of the color flash that happens with the background image.

I found several topics in the forums discussing the fix and most pointed to this post. However, it was wasn’t addressing the problem. It was removing the fading in of the background image, but not removing the flash of the color.

The fix is to change the background color to black or white before the image loads. That will make it a “blank” area before the image fills in.

[Read more…]

See the “Get offer” button on the right side? I was cleaning out my inbox and it just grabbed my attention.

So unfair to play in someone else’s ecosystem.

Think about that when you rely on another platform to get your message out. It happened to Zynga and others.

It's about time! …Tech sites become more critical of startups and investors


First off, my hats off to any entrepreneur who is willing to put him/herself out there and take the risk to start a company, sell to customers, and raise money. I wish I could to it myself, but that’s another story.

I came across this article this morning:

A while ago, when I was a more avid reader of tech sites like BusinessInsider, Techcrunch, PandyDaily, and Betabeat, I noticed majority of stories about startups were rah-rah – everyone will conquer the world and every industry was going to be disrupted.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that writing has become more critical of both startups, founders, and investors. It’s about time!

It’s a great start to talking about the difficulty of building a sustainable business, how raising money is not success (already been beat to death), and money is too abundant.

Please say it isn’t so.

What are my google reader friends going to use?
My only ask is that the product has keyboard shortcuts for navigation

Lots of other google product deprecations, but this is the headline product. for the full list

I just noticed on Google Chrome. Each time I open a new tab, this appears at the top.

It’s clean, simple and I bet effective.

I wonder what the CTR is.