You have a startup with a B2C focus that is already working. For some reason you wonder or realize that a B2B model might work as well. How do you test if it actually does? This is a very simple guide for the first weeks of your exploration of a B2B model.
First, take into account that selling to companies/organizations tends to have a larger sales process compared to selling to consumers. This means that the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for B2B can be larger. Also, your relationship with your contact can be more personal if the B2C was not already. Just make sure your Life Time Value (LTV) to CAC relation is still at least 3X. The bigger, the better. Estimating the correct LTV for a B2B model its just starting is impossible, but be reasonable and consider that businesses tend to be more loyal than customers when value is actually delivered.
Prospecting the right type of customers is essential to have an effective B2B sales process. In order to do that create an "Ideal Customer Profile" and compare each new lead to that ideal customer. In Arjé Coffee we build a simple score calculator based on the criteria we considered important. We considered variables such as number of employees, visible well being positions/programs and visible employee happiness as factors to consider. Then we assigned a weight to each variable which at the end gave us a total score of 100 points. Finally we graded every company we prospected using this calculator and only reached to the ones that had a score of 80 or more. This allowed us to focus on the prospects that can really benefit from Arjé Coffee and that we were excited to work with.
Keep track of your B2B model using a good sales CRM. There are a lot our there, so find one you think is appropriate to you, your business goals and size. We are using Close since is focused on B2B, has a very simple and intuitive interface and it was cheap thanks to the discounts we got by participating in Startup School Online by YCombinator. At the end, simple solutions are better. If you might have less than a 100 leads/year, a simple spreadsheet is enough.
Before starting to contact prospects, make sure to have your online presence in order. That is what people see when they read your message. You want to sell them? They need to trust you. Hopefully, they will fall in love with you even before talking. Have visual proof of your value. Your website must load fast. Your app must have good reviews. You have to show that you care!
Once you have contacted a lead, talk directly to the decision makers. Be direct, nice, effective with your message. B2B is all about proving you can deliver value in the minimum amount of time. If you think you are talking with the incorrect person, ask if you can talk to the right one. Be persistent and always follow up. Perseverance in selling to the right customers is the difference between a good sales person and a bad one.
After you contacted and talked to a lead, qualify them. Qualifying is making sure that you can deliver value to them and that also they can deliver value to you. If that is the case, continue with the sales process. Qualifying those prospects effectively is the difference between building a B2B model or failing at it. If you waste time in the wrong leads, you loose money, specially when considering that the alternative is going after the ones that actually are going to give you money. You qualify by talking to your contact and learning from them. A good sales conversation is one where you barely speak. Let your customer do the talking and try to make sure you can deliver them value before wasting their time.
At the end you are selling to people, so make sure to apply the same principles you use for B2C. You must have personality. You and your contact can and should become friends. Let there be more than a business relationship. As Michael from The Office says: People will never go out of business
B2B sales, such as all sales, is a numbers game. If you realize 1 lead in 5 becomes a customer and you need 10 customers/month to keep your B2B model running, make sure to contact 50 customers each month. This knowledge will not come during the first weeks of life of your B2B sales process, but it will be obvious with time. Make sure to have those metrics tracked and act upon them. Once you have a funnel, optimize it! Change your process so that 1 in 5 becomes 1 in 4. This might be hard and will possibly require a lot of iterations and validated learning (viva Lean Startup)
If you happen to sell, congratulations! Now you have learned a new way you can sell your product or service in a B2B model. Evaluate what worked well, what did not and obviously, ask your new client what she liked and disliked about the process! Success in startups happens when you find the right thing to do and scale it with the resources you have. Focus on finding something that works, then iterate and scale.
Of course, you must always deliver your value. The thing is, some people forget the most important part: communicate that value delivered to your new customer. It can be as complicated as you want, but try to keep it simple. Some people use dashboards. I simply send them a report with metrics like:
- how many employees are loving Arjé Coffee at home
- how many people have taken a coffee preparation session
- Arjé Coffee's impact in their happiness and productivity :)
Implement these ideas into your own company and you might be heading in the right direction to create and then scale a B2B sales process. If you have any thoughts or comments on this, please reach out at email@example.com. I am always to discuss and learn from cool people!
Final recommendation: Ask your new customers for referrals after you have delivered the first big chunk of value, whatever that is. Word of Mouth is a great way to scale your B2B model and people in a certain position of a company tend to know a lot of other people similar to themselves in other companies. Basically they are doing the prospecting for you.
Make sure to check Arjé Coffee for your business. We deliver freshly roasted coffee to your home and your employees homes. Learn more at https://arjecoffee.co/empresas or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org