How To Build Traction In A B2B Product During Launch Phase
The first few months of any business is hard. It becomes all the more difficult in a B2B setup because unlike B2C, the customers are not equally forgiving when you mess up. Established businesses have a reputation to hold on to. Also, unlike retail customers, pricing points are hardly ever a decisive factor in a B2B product. The result – newly launched companies are expected to have the scalability that large businesses need from day one.
So how does a new business in a B2B industry gain traction in the first few months? Here are a few strategies to consider:
Start Retail : This strategy may not be relevant for all types of businesses. But if you are just starting out, one way to get traction is to first work with retail customers. This helps your business establish legitimacy and a reputation that you could leverage when moving to a B2B setup. For instance, if you want to launch an auto spares distribution business, you could first start selling it to retail customers in single units and once you build a reputation, approach auto dealers for wholesale supply.
Sub-Contract : Do you have a large enterprise doing the same work that you intend to do? Instead of regarding them as competition, you could partner with them as a sub-contracting agent. This way, you get to work with large enterprise clients even as a startup company. According to Marian Berege, the owner of event planning company Rianns, this is a win-win for both your business and your larger competitor because they get to increase resources without having to deal with HR issues. At the same time, you get to establish a credibility and portfolio that is impossible to get if you are acquiring your own customers.
Offer Referral Commission : One of the quickest ways to get new clients for your B2B business is to offer referral commission to other complementary service providers. For instance, if you provide commercial signage for businesses, you can partner with printing houses that work with businesses for their banners and marketing materials. According to Alan Rigg, the former President of the Arizona chapter of the National Speakers Association, this is a clever strategy to leverage your partner's credibility and reputation to get in touch with a business who you may have otherwise not been able to reach out to.
Besides these strategies, there are a dozens of other ways to get a foothold in the market in your initial days. For example, you could offer a no-risk trial of your product. However, this will only work if your product is not a critical element of their current operational processes. Another popular way to reach out is by visiting events and trade shows and meeting potential partners face-to-face. While this is a very good way to get introduced, this requires constant follow-ups. It is recommended to opt for this strategy if you are a sales guy yourself or have an experienced one in your rolls.
What are other strategies that you think will help new businesses get traction in a B2B industry? Tell us in the comments.