Building an effective B2B go to market organisation

Last month Erevena and Smedvig Capital co-hosted a breakfast discussion on the successful transition of organisations from SMB to enterprise, focusing on elements such as how to support sales with an effective marketing infrastructure, expanding into new geographies and the value of partnerships. The morning brought together leaders from a variety of B2B environments to share their experiences and we heard interesting insights from three guest speakers: Dean Forbes (CEO of CoreHR and previously, KDS), Rabin Yaghoubi (most recently CCO of Babylon Health and formerly Google/Double Click) and Patrick Malaperiman (VP Sales EMEA at Netbrain and formerly VP EMEA for Twilio).

Here are our top takeaways from the conversation:

1. Validate your proposition: It can take time to acquire customers and B2B lead cycles are often slow (6–12 months), especially if your product is early stage. To gain traction and credibility focus on acquiring early adopters and start-ups to demonstrate the value of your product to the market. Success is measured by adoption and frequency of use, so it’s vital to invest heavily in both acquisition and retention. To maximise acquisition, don’t rely on corporates and re-seller partners to sell on your behalf, no one can pitch your product in the same way that your team should be able to.

2. Understand your customers, know your product, build a brand: To maximise lead generation, successful businesses go after the right customers with the right messaging and leverage relationships with flagship customers to build awareness. Scaling businesses sometimes suffer from an absence of focus and lack of clarity, so it’s vital that distractions are minimised. Narrow your value proposition by asking the following questions: What is our business about? What does it do better than anyone else? Where are our most loved customers? And are there enough of those types of businesses that aren’t customers yet to preserve us?

3. Get a team in place who’ve done it before: This may sound obvious but people with similar track records are key when building an enterprise sales team. They have the model, metrics and playbooks and know how to recruit the best team around them. Within this sales force ensure there is a customer success team whose role is to maximise retention and build brand advocacy, allowing customers to become a point of reference for the business.

4. Be valuable to partners: When expanding it is important to have partners who already work in the new geography, allowing you to make decisions on market dynamics and your ability to execute. Leverage these relationships by finding partners who are already delivering a product to your target customer and by incorporating your proposition they will increase their own value and revenue.

5. Be Honest: Every business would love to be able to give each customer exactly what they need, instantaneously! But you must be realistic with time frames and honest about the products you can deliver to build the most valuable and long-term customer relationships.

6. Be prepared to pivot: To survive in today’s climate often organisations need to pivot. To make this as easy as possible businesses need to be aware of the competitor landscape. Know what’s missing in the market and differentiate your business by becoming that missing product. When ‘pivoting’ it’s often more effective and time efficient to rebuild the sales team rather than trying to convert non-believers to the business’ new position.