Positioning a B2B Company

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When you are building B2B solutions and services, you must consider the size of the companies you want to target; the needs are profoundly different from large to small and thus, your approach and even the way you would structure your company, is inherently different.

Consider that if your goal is to create a productized solution out of commodity technology, and put it in “the cloud”, you’re most likely talking about small to mid-size businesses. SaaS almost by definition is about the democratization of sophisticated technology that only large enterprises had access to before. Part of this however, is making it affordable. The smaller businesses benefit significantly from the lower price points that fit their budgets and so they (should be) willing to accept the product as it is, without needing customizations.

The large enterprise company meanwhile has very complex regulations and workflow considerations. I’ve personally seen a large company spend $2 million just to license a piece of software and another $1 million to hire company consultants to spend the next year configuring it for them. For enterprise, what they need is assistance with streamlining their process, and cost is not as significant.

So when you set out, your first question should be ‘who is my customer?’, and respond with appropriate offerings. If you’re leaning to small business, think in terms of how to develop a productized and highly efficient solution that can tough many small businesses. If you’re looking at enterprise, you’re better off focusing on leveraging well-known platforms rather than creating any products or platforms. Mid-size businesses seem to benefit most from offering customized off-the-shelf solutions, such as an ecommerce solution, with an extra layer built to provide additional reporting and legacy integration.

Another interesting consideration I realized while thinking this through, is the balance between selling and performing your craft. If you are a productized business, 90% of your team may be sales and marketing professionals as you scale, whereas only 10% would still be focused on technology and product. The exact opposite is true for a large enterprise focus, where custom solutions lead to very long contracts and require less customer acquisition as a focus.

Business Scale

Here are a few other comparisons I have observed when comparing small, mid-size, and enterprise clients. Small businesses are most similar to B2C clients where pricing and simple/seamless solutions drive decision making. As you each enterprise it is much more important to use high-end technology and focus on quality craftsmenship and understanding their specific needs.

Small Business Mid-Size Business Enterprise
Level Turnkey Customized Turnkey Custom Services
Verticals Local / Real Estate eCommerce/Fulfillment System Integration
Technology PHP .Net Custom Java Solutions
Platforms WordPress Magento / Force.com Spring MVC
Sales:Services Ratio 90% 30% 10%
Number of Clients 100 10 1
Cost Per Project $1,000 $10,000 $100,000