The challenge of B2B startups: sales strategy

Throughout my career, I have always sought to improve the management of my business. Thus, knowing the processes, discerning the best performance indicators and managing them are constant activities in the routine of any manager seeking success.

I dare say that among all the areas and activities of companies like Simpress, which operate exclusively in B2B, the most challenging is to create and develop what I call “sales machines”.

For 2 years, as a member of BR Angels, a private group of angel investors, I have been following the emergence and development of dozens of startups. During this period, I had the opportunity to surprise myself with wonderful ideas and innovations.

The startups I’ve met are made up of incredible entrepreneurs, with a different view of how to solve their prospects’ problems and methodologies for developing products and business support platforms that are totally different from traditional models.

The normal path for these companies is, in the first phase, to conquer some customers, usually those called early adopters, which are responsible for the first growth traction. From there, the big challenge faced by startups operating in the corporate market is how to scale the business.

Unlike B2C, where this activity is mainly anchored in marketing investments, the B2B market requires the structuring of a strong commercial team.

Not infrequently, I hear pitches sales or I review business plans and I am surprised at how easy it is to triple, quadruple and sometimes even quintuple sales in 3 or 4 years, without a defined commercial strategy. Using the Simpress example again, it took us 20 years to win around 1,400 customers, with a sales team made up of more than 100 professionals!

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Regardless of whether the company is traditional or a startup, the operating model in most cases is structured on three pillars: back office, operations and sales.

Unfortunately, even with fantastic ideas and products, many of these companies end up not getting the traction they need to thrive simply because they lack a mental model of how to sell in the corporate market. Due to the age of its founders and time of existence, hardly a startup have enough relationships to leverage the sales needed for success.

Here I leave my warning, as it is a common challenge for practically all the companies I have had contact with. Thinking about how to create this “sales machine” in parallel with the development of the product and having one of the partners who have more conditions in this area and (or) affinity with it can be the great differential.

*****

Vittorio Danesi is CEO of Simpress. Vittorio has been an entrepreneur and executive in the Brazilian technology market for almost 35 years. The company he created, Simpress, was bought by HP, although it continues to operate independently. Recently, together with other entrepreneurs, he created the BR Angels group, which brings together executives who invest in startups.

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