In our last article, we started talking about B2B, and specifically, how to market a B2B app for small business. But what if your sights are set on bigger businesses or corporations? Before you do anything else, you'll need to understand the pain points of two sets of customers. Once you've done that, you can create a proof of concept and scale up for a successful launch. In this article, the first of a three-article series, we'll focus on how to connect with your customers and really understand their pain points. After all, what you're selling is a business solution—and to do that successfully, you'll need a solid understanding of what the business needs to solve.
Instead of a scheduling app for dentists, the example we used last time, what if you want to build an e-commerce portal for marketers, something to help them manage inventory, maintain a high-level of presentation, and increase transactions? Your target customer is no longer a singular dentist or an office manager, who you can drive across town and talk to—instead, your customer is actually multiple people within the context of a larger organization, so you not only need to understand who those people are to reach them, you need to make sure that you’re building something that directly addresses their complicated—and varied—pain points.
Not Just One Customer, But Two
Knowing your customer is always important, and most of the standard principles apply, but this is even more critical when it comes to enterprise B2B. Far from one-off, one-click impulse purchases, these are big sales—which means you’ll spend a lot more time working with the organization at every step of the process—from research, to possible custom features, to ongoing support and maintenance.
Not only that, but your “customer” in this scenario is actually multiple people. Most B2B apps will have two main customers or customer groups you’ll need to consider. The first is the user, the person within the corporation who will actually be using the app, and the second is the check-writer, or the executive who will approve the purchase. Those people are working together, and will share bigger organizational philosophies and goals, but when they consider whether or not to purchase your app, they’ll be looking at it from different angles and will have a different take on the key benefits.
In the e-commerce example, your user might be the e-commerce analyst who will actually implement and use the portal in order to manage their online sales, while the check-writer is the executive or CMO who will approve it. At a basic level, the check-writer will be focused on ROI—how will this app pay for itself in terms of increased transactions, or reduced labor costs? The user, on the other hand, will be focused on simplicity and usability—how will this app improve their experience and allow them to do better work?
You’ll need to understand both points of view, because they’ll both need to be on board if you’re going to be successful. A high-priced app that makes the user’s life much easier, but doesn’t affect the bottom line isn’t going to be approved by the check-writer. On the other hand, if something looks good on paper, but doesn’t actually solve the user’s problems, then it won’t result in the ROI the executive is expecting.
What Are the Pain Points? Take Time to Ask--And Listen
Knowing your customer and understanding their pain points isn’t something that begins at the sales or marketing stage, of course. It’s important to research your product as early in the process as possible, even before you write a line of code, if possible. Because the price point for enterprise B2B is so much higher, your product needs to be worth paying a lot for—otherwise it’s not worth making. That means there needs to be a clear ROI, and your product needs to solve meaningful pain points for not just one, but both of your main customers.
The approach here is similar to small business B2B, but in this case you’ll need to make sure you’re contacting and connecting with both users and check-writers. For the e-commerce portal, you would want to reach out to both ecommerce analysts and executives. Talk to at least ten different people at different companies, and spend a couple of hours with each of them. Ask questions, but more than anything else: listen, listen, listen. The conversations you have with them, and the insights they’ll be able to provide will be invaluable as you continue along the product development and sales process.
Now You Have a Plan in Place
At the end of this process you should have a strong start—clarity around the pain points for both of your customer groups, as well as insight into how to communicate the ROI, how to get budget approved, and how to get buy-in from the end user who will interact with your app day to day. You’ll also be laying the groundwork for good working relationships, which will be increasingly important. Your next step will be to line up a couple of reference customers and create a proof of concept. Check back soon for the next article in this series.