A recent Inc. article titled, Why B2B Startups Are Suddenly So Sexy, declared that B2B software companies are finally being seen as sexy by some investors. That’s all well and good. However, the biggest issue has never been investors failing to perceive the allure of a meaty B2B solution. Afterall, great B2B companies tend to generate revenue before a major round of funding anyway!
The real problem is that people looking to start a B2B company and people who have already started one don’t think they themselves are sexy. They look longingly at their B2C comrades. Their Twitter followings are in the thousands. They are getting covered on all of the major tech sites. Their blogs are littered with comments. Every slight tweak to the app is met with praise from the young and hip around the world.
B2B software companies would probably describe their company as producing something useful, practical, and better than what is currently being used. But definitely not sexy.
Well fellow B2B software companies and those aspiring to join the ranks, I am going to help you hold your head up a little higher around those boastful B2C’s!
5 Facts To Remind You B2B Software Is Sexy
There is an entire company behind the praise
It is tempting to be jealous of all the public affection that is showered upon the B2C’s of the world. As B2B software companies, you have to settle with a few sincere thank yous from the tens or maybe hundreds of organizations you serve. Just remind yourself that for every thank you coming your way are a number of unspoken thank yous from employees that you don’t get to speak to.
Also remember that you are serving very busy people. Even if they really value your product, they just might not get around to praising you. If they continue to use your product and pay – take that as your thank you.
Look further down the line to find meaning
You may find that it’s difficult to find the “sexy” within your product alone. Instead, take a look at the work your product enables your customers to do. Without you, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do, or at least not as well. Don’t take all of the credit, but take a little for yourself. Rejoice in the success of you customers for a small part of it is yours.
At Decision.io we help foundations, non-profits, business incubators and accelerators, and companies manage their online submission and decision-making process. It’s not what the cool kids are talking about. It’s not exactly Snapchat. Mark Zuckerberg probably isn’t knocking on our door and begging us to sell the company to him for $3B - a small price to pay to be hip with the in crowd after all.
However, when I went around to speak to some of our early and most valued users, I was reminded of the great work we B2B’s enable.
Mike Kirkup, Director of VeloCity at the University of Waterloo, told me how Decision.io helps them choose the lucky startups that receive $25 000 in funding and a spot within the incubator based on their business plan and pitch. We help their review team collaborate and make better decisions faster.
Jennifer King, Executive Director of the Social Venture Partners of Waterloo Region, spoke about how Decision.io helped them get off of a disorganized paper-based grant application review process, and actually made the grant review process enjoyable! Imagine that.
We are helping incubators and accelerators choose today’s entrepreneurs that will shape tomorrow’s future. We’re helping organizations distribute their funds to projects that will have the largest impact on their communities. We’re even helping companies make important decisions such as what to build next! Pretty heavy stuff.
I am sure that if you think a little harder, you will see that your B2B company is indirectly impacting the world in some pretty awesome ways!
You make people’s work less painful
Many people hate their jobs. If they don’t hate it, they tolerate it. Few people love it. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third working, and the other third getting ready for work, driving to work, and thinking about work. A slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Your B2B products are helping people through the most difficult, stressful, and longest part of their days. Some days, they will spend more time with your software than with their own families.
Unsexy? Give me a break!
B2B software companies make money early on
Most of those sexy B2C companies that brag about millions of users aren’t bragging about having millions or even thousands of dollars coming in. In fact, they are smiling on the outside and panicking on the inside while trying to think up brilliant ways to turn on the monetization machine without turning off their users. Instagram recently served up its first ad, and you can guess how that went.
B2B companies are producing something so valuable that companies want to pay out of their pockets for it. By using your product they get more work done and they do it better. That equates to more dollars, cents, and impact for your users.
How much would you pay out of pocket to use Instagram? I wouldn’t pay a dime either.
More revenue per customer
A new user can mean thousands of dollars a year. You can be Ramen profitable with a couple dozen paying customers or less. That is Paul Graham’s terminology for bringing in enough revenue to cover living expenses for the company’s founders.
Also, your revenue is probably a little more stable. Most B2C companies are just a slightly better idea away from being obsolete. Consumers can be a fickle bunch. It is much harder to switch to a new B2B software product once your business is heavily invested in one. That’s why we see so many organizations using terrible software that needs to be replaced! That’s where you come in, right?
Add this with the fact that B2B sales and marketing is looking more like B2C, and you have the potential to see B2B style revenue without being so hands on!
Key take aways
- For every paying customer and thank you, imagine the many faces behind each kind gesture that are using and enjoying your creation.
- Focus on what your product allows your users to do better and take a tiny bit of their success and claim it as your own.
- Realize that most people spend the majority of their waking life working, and you make that time easier and more delightful.
- While your B2C friends are shaking at the thought of unleashing an ugly monetization beast on their trusting users, your customers expect to pay and are glad to do so.
- A sale for you is reason enough to celebrate. That sale could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars and a loyal new user.
There you have it my B2B friends. Hold your heads high. We aren’t loud. We don’t tend to garner a lot of attention. But make no mistake about it – we are most definitely sexy.
Spread the good word!
If something you read here is of value to you, there’s a good chance you can provide value to your community by sharing it with them. Feel free to share away!
We’re also on your favourite social media networks – see you there!