If your business depends on selling your products or services to other companies, you understand the brutally competitive nature of the B2B market, comprised of deep-pocketed customers constantly chased by vendors. While penetrating this space is difficult, a few smart strategies can help. Take it from Noam Inbar, vice president of business development at Forter, an Israel-based startup that offers online merchants real-time fraud prevention with full chargeback protection. Founded in 2013, Forter has raised more than $18 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Sequoia Capital, with its customers processing around $50 million a year. Here's her advice:
Be honest with yourself about how your offering fits the needs of your target market.
While it may be possible to get decent traction in the B2C market with clever marketing, you'll need real differentiation to make headway in the B2B space. "Do you have something unique? Do you have an offering that people really need and that differentiates you from others?" Inbar suggests asking yourself. "Because you want to deliver actual value, and not just have something that is cool or creating hype."
Make every employee a brand ambassador who genuinely believes in your product.
Everyone in your company should be a salesperson who understands how your business is going to make a difference. "Create the feeling among employees that they're a part of something huge that they want to spread out to the world and share," Inbar says.
Define and remain loyal to your target customer.
To whom does your product deliver the most value? How much money do these companies make? How many employees do they have? If you've answered these questions, you will be better prepared to stay away from potential customers that would distract you from serving your target market. "Sometimes bigger customers that make more money have more budget, but...accommodating their needs may require more resources," she says.
Help your customers thrive.
Inbar says Forter spends 30 percent of its effort on sales and the other 70 percent on providing value to customers, with the goal of building a relationship that translates into loyalty. "This is really important with enterprise markets because the senior people who are in charge with so much money get approached with vendors and new offers all the time. And your competitors will try to poach them," she says. "You have to make sure that they're happy all the time."
Seed your company with credible talent.
Credibility is king when it comes to B2B, particularly if you sell to enterprise companies. A great way to get it: hire well-known, experienced people in your space. "This has been our tactic and we have made some very big HR investments," she says. "All the executives in the company come from big companies like PayPal, Conduit, eBay, Kenshoo, and others."
Provide valuable content with no strings attached.
In other words, reconsider the idea of content marketing intended as a sales tool to generate leads. Instead, provide advice, insights, and data to your community as a gift. "We look at it like it's a marathon and not a sprint," she says. "When you're a company with insights that knows how to handle data, it reflects on your brand."