Succeeding in business is especially tough when you’re a beginner. It’s even tougher when there are terms flying around that you’re not particularly sure of. Even worse if they’re initialisms, acronyms, or abbreviations. Nobody likes acronyms. Actually, that’s not true – SPLA. That stands for Some People Love Acronyms. That’s why things proliferate. They’re handy because they take so little time to write and to say.
But they do need explaining.
This means business to business. (The central ‘2’ is quite handy as far as internet searches go as it makes the acronym unique.)
But what does business to business mean?
Let’s say your company is selling docusign alternatives for small business. The biggest market you’ll have – bigger than accountancy students and professional accountants – will be other companies needing to buy your product to remain compliant and solvent. That’s B2B. If you were selling donuts on a stall to passing members of the public, that would be B2C (Business To Customer – but you probably worked that out).
This means Software as a Service, but what does it mean?
It refers to a model of computer program or programs that are centrally loaded and companies use it in return for paying a subscription. Clients access the software via the cloud. There are all sorts of advantages of SaaS, including speed of installation and great scalability, but we don’t need to go into these right now.
Right, now we know what we’re talking about, let’s see the primary features of B2B.
B2B SaaS products tend to be more complex and sophisticated than B2C SaaS products, so tend to be more expensive. However, when it comes to B2B SaaS pricing, a good salesperson won’t talk about expensive or cheap. They will talk about value. This is precisely what you should do. Talking of talking…
B2B companies tend to use a very different set of phrasing from that used by B2C companies. They tend to use jargon and industry buzzwords for a mixture of good reasons and not such good reasons.
The former includes reasons for the efficiency of communication. The latter includes what sociologists call the “culture of critical discourse,” which is a set of linguistic rules groups people like to use to set their cohort apart from non-members.
Whatever reason the jargon is used, you should become accustomed to it if you want to make sales.
B2B seller-buyer relationships tend to require a good deal more maintenance than B2C relationships.
Firstly, this is because there’s less impulse buying in B2B. The business taking part in the buying will be doing so with a number of colleagues involved, which will make the process more deliberative than would be the case otherwise.
Secondly, the depth of complexity of B2B software will require more nurturing and training than the average B2C product. This is the case with SaaS, particularly with which your buyer may have had no previous purchasing experience. For instance, the levels of complication exhibited by a virtual hosted PBX system will take a significant period of time for the new user to become accustomed to, and this extended acclimatizing period is very much part of the B2B model.
There are a number of channels that are commonly used to get that demand going so that sales can ensue. Marketing is of course a practice that’s common both to B2C and B2B spheres, but B2B has certain emphases that should be explored. Let’s take a look.
What you and your business need to do initially is to identify archetypes that you’re seeking to attract. Once you have your archetypes, assess how other businesses are seeking to attract the same sectors and what you can do to overcome the competition.
You then need to make sure that your business is visible to your target audience. You may think that you’ve got a website so that’s that, right? No. So wrong.
You may think you have the most inclusive website ever, but you have to word your website right or other businesses will swan straight past. One of the things that sets B2B apart is that you’re selling to an entity that isn’t just idly browsing. They want something specific. You have that something. Get it seen.
What this graphic illustrates is that if your accountancy software site is not getting any organic traffic, you’re not alone. To ensure your site sits at the top of the search for SaaS accountancy solutions, you need to find the keywords that do the job and get them featured on every page of your site. That’s how you win the SEO (search engine optimization game).
This is a part of inbound marketing, but it warrants its own category because of its importance. It basically means that the promotion of your product or service is by something that’s interesting or worthwhile in its own right.
For instance, a flyer saying “Accountancy Solutions” is not an example of digital content marketing. But come up with a blog about how companies can transform their performance by getting the right SaaS accountancy solutions and you have a piece of content marketing that will appeal to your demographic.
Sometimes it’s simply about how you phrase things, which is why content marketing is such a great way to sell otherwise slightly utilitarian products. For instance, a straightforward webpage giving you the rundown on functional testing automation tools will probably lose the interest of all but the most dedicated reader.
But make it a piece of compelling content detailing the calamities that can occur without the valuable work these tools do, and you have a piece of marketing that is more likely to hit the spot.
People like to have something of value. Content marketing gives them customers value and suggests that the recipient makes the purchase based on the information you’ve given them. It’s tremendously effective and extremely popular.
If you ever find yourself struggling, there’s assistance available via helpful content inspiration sources online.
Sometimes, it’s worth making a song and dancing about something. If you have a product that needs some attention why not plan an event that will be eye-catching, and use it to piggyback a project? The event can be real or virtual, so it doesn’t have to cost the earth and is also a great way of getting other businesses engaged.
There are a variety of ways to get people to attend your event. One option is to get the help of a well-known figure, and if you do, make sure that when you sign contracts and papers with them, you use digital signature software free of charge. For example, as affiliate marketers know all too well, an influencer may make or break your business.
These are partnerships between the vendor and an affiliate. The advantage of this route is that you don’t actually need to do all the selling yourself. Your partner does it for you and earns a commission on what they sell.
In truth, this path is not that common for SaaS sales but, when it does work, it works big time. For instance, Bloggers Passion has made an impressive profit from affiliate partnering for SEMrush between 2016 and 2020, earning a 40% commission on sales.
Social media marketing
You may think you’ve got the measure of social media, after all, you’ve been using Facebook as an individual since 2010. However, there are certain aspects of B2B social media marketing that deserve setting out. Better get ideas and strategies from an established agency on how to use social media marketing and add them to your agency proposal template.
Create a library
When you come up with a post on social media, create a list of 10-15 social media posts that relate to that topic in the B2B sphere. This will give you a list of post ideas that you can place on a spreadsheet and link to your calendar. Then keep an eye on how the topics develop as other B2B companies write about them. This way you’ll have a fresh take on B2B subjects.
Find relevant chats/groups
Again, this will keep your thinking and perspective up to date and vibrant, being informed by the latest developments revealed in the group.
Engage with bigshots
One of the great things about social media is that it can give you a direct route to industry leaders. Gain the benefit of their perspective and give your business a boost through association. Other businesses will then seek to associate with you.
Play to strengths
Pinterest has great picture power, so use it for infographics. Instagram has a good direct message feature, so use it – you can send up to five images to up to 15 people at once. Send the right images to the right people and it could drive a lot of sales. Businesspeople tend to be a little busier than individual customers, so the power of a well-chosen image to post across socials can really deliver.
Make a hash of it
Learn how to use hashtags effectively. They can be uber-effective when used with specificity and relevance. Don’t overuse them. #deathbyhashtag.
Predictably enough, outbound marketing is a means of marketing characterized by reaching out to the customer. B2B outbound marketing will often be done via phone, so a sales call plan template should be generated, and the call schedule. Outbound marketing could of course be undertaken via email or even mail. (Yes, this still happens.)
However you decide to do your outbound marketing, there are some great orchestration solutions out there, so get to it.
B2B has certain characteristics that set it apart from B2C.
While it’s true that businesses are composed of individuals, so a lot of what works in B2C can also work for B2B but don’t take this too far. For the full B2B SaaS effect, you need to keep in mind that language, pricing, and marketing require a unique approach.