I plan to post every Friday on interesting developments and articles on Freemium in B2B land, but we will see how long I actually keep this up
This week is a good week to start as we just signed up to participate in the first-ever Freemium meetup in San Francisco. Three B2B Freemium gurus will be presenting:
Drew Banks, our host and head of marketing at Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software service that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. Drew will speak about Prezi’s rapid growth (1M users/month!) and profitability success with a Freemium business model.
Chad Heinrich a.k.a. “Freemium Fighter” is the Marketing Consultant for Avira. He has successfully marketed the Freemium business model in a wide variety of technology companies including his current gig at Avira (with 100M+ users), and previously at Dropbox and Box.net.
Todd Wilkinson is the Co-founder & CEO at WordWatch, a cloud-based app for small businesses that manages AdWords, automatically delivering optimal ROI for Google AdWords PPC advertising.
A Forbes article on Box.net Freemium model: it doesn’t go into much depth, but quotes Box’s initial Freemium conversion at 8% with little sales effort. However also mentions that now Box is hiring up to 200 sales reps: apparently enterprise sales needs a push and a shove even if you are Box.
SAP owned SuccessFactors announced a Freemium version of it’s Jam product (a Salesforce.com Chatter competitor). For now the product is only free to customers, but Dmitri Krakovsky, SuccessFactors VP of global product management, said (when asked if the company is planning to extend the freemium model to non-SuccessFactors customers): “Yes, for sure. We’re always thinking about making it a very broad tool.”
The hot topic at Sales 2.0 Conference today in San Francisco remains (surprise, surprise) social selling (for B2B companies). Lots of speakers and lots of wisdom but also became abundantly clear to me that for most B2B organizations it is very early days in the adoption of social selling techniques. Therefore, for my wrap-up blog of Sales 2.0 I decided to summarize six things that any organization could do to get started with Social Selling.
Mike Derezin (@mikedfresh), Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions at LinkedIn shared that second degree (LinkedIn) connections are 87% more likely to respond to any e-mail or phone call as compared to a cold call. If there is one place to start it would be to use your second degree connections as part of our (outbound) sales efforts. And not just your own second degree connections: also the second degree connections of the rest of your team. The new LinkedIn TeamLink product looks promising in this regard: it lets you tap into the second degree network of your entire company’s team.
2. Follow and engage strategic accounts on Twitter
Jill Rowley, Director of Strategic Accounts at Eloqua is the queen of using social media to engage with strategic accounts. You cannot do this for all your prospects and customers, but the best place to start is to create a short list of accounts that you are targeting for this quarter and deeply engage with them via social media. Follow them on Twitter and engage with them. Make the conversation personal. Often twitter, and sometimes even a text message, can be a great alternate way to get in touch with target accounts these days when people’s e-mail inboxes are overflowing. Be careful about engaging with prospects on Facebook. Mike Denizen shared research that shows that 80% of people want their social and professional networks separate.
3. Turn all employees into customer coaches
Your goal as a salesperson is to add value. Think of yourself as a customer coach: your job in sales is to make your customer successful and revenues will follow. Jill Rowley, super-star sales queen mentioned above, calls herself a “content concierge” on behalf of her prospects. “Think of prospects as as future advocates for your brand”, says Jill Rowley. “She clearly does a good job”, says Matt Heinz, a marketing consultant on stage at Sales 2.0: “Until today I didn’t know Jill is in sales. I thought she was an evangelist”. Eventually, not just your sales reps should be customer coaches, but every employee in the company is representing the brand and could be building trust with prospects and customers on social media.
4. Focus on lifetime customer value
Eryc Branham said it: “the only sales metric that matters in the end is customer lifetime value”. Customer lifetime value also featured high on Matt Heinz’s Top 10 Sales Metrics list, but I am with Eryc that all that matters in the end is customer lifetime value. Jim Cyb, VP of North American Sales from Zendesk shared: “the key to the success of Zendesk is a land and expand selling strategy”. It is not about the first sale, but about a lifetime of purchases. You can start small, establish any kind of paid relationship with your customer and grow from there. And, as Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group pointed out, when calculating Customer Value include “network value”: the revenues generated from referrals made by your customers.
5. Assign leads based on social proximity
I wrote about this before in Top 5 Trends in Sales 2.0 but this is still one of my favorite social selling black belt techniques: assigning leads based on “social proximity” (remember Tip 1 on leveraging second degree connections) makes the most sense. This time, Jim Cyb from Zendesk offered a good alternative if you are not quite ready for “social territories”. Zendesk is assigning leads based on a round robin system which is straightforward, eliminates any territory fights and aligns with today’s low-touch, virtual selling environment.
6. Make your product social
Research says that by 2020, 85% of the buying process will be completed before a salesperson is called. In a day and age that direct contact with buyers is sparse, you should be listening to other channels. Deploy social media tracking like Radian6 and Google Analytics to listen to your prospects. If your product is software, you should also be listening to what your product is telling you. Which trial users are active and what are they doing with your application? Did your paying customers stop using your application (and may cancel their subscription soon)? Of course this is the core of what Totango customer engagement is all about. Even better – make your product a two-way social communication channel. Communicate with your customers when and where you are top of mind: in your application with free tools like Appbox.js.
“The process went something like this: ask the analysts about the next big thing, collect requirements into and RFP, get a list of vendors from a roundup in an industry magazine, go to a trade show and collect collateral, solicit and evaluate RFP responses by mail or fax, call in a short list of vendors to do a dog and pony show, follow up with a technical drill down meeting, maybe do a bake-off or a pilot, select a vendor, call a reference account, negotiate final pricing and contract terms, and wrap it all up by planning out phase 2 of the project: a complex and expensive implementation.”
The new breed B2B buyer: it’s self-service stupid!
“With such a treasure trove of information available online, the Internet is the 21st century B2B buyer’s first stop for researching products and services. Your strongest strategy is to give the prospect efficient self-service access to your content.”
“In the case of most SaaS and cloud applications, the entire B2B buying process is cheap: trial is free and purchase amounts to a monthly subscription that can be canceled at any time. So in addition to reading about the product, the barriers for a customer to go ahead and just try your product itself (even without a lot of upfront research) are low.”
Long story short, the key to the wallet of the new B2B buyer:
Instant online gratification through efficient self-service
So it’s no surprise that many SaaS companies spend their marketing dollars on content creation and inbound marketing, and invest in marketing automation to track campaign ROI.
Good. But not enough. According to Joel.
“Inbound marketing or simply getting found by a prospect is not enough. Once you are found, you must engage with that prospect frequently and consistently throughout the entire customer lifecycle, because if you don’t, your competitors will, and what is easily found can be just as easily lost.”
What’s worse, simply accessing your content may no longer be a reliable indicator of purchase intend. Joel uses the term “fuzzy funnel” to describe the undeterministic process that customers follow these days: the new B2B buying process is anything but linear, deterministic and under the B2B salesperson’s control.
So what comes after inbound marketing? If accessing your content is no longer a reliable indicator of purchase intent, then how to best measure customer interest?
I asked Joel some questions on it via e-mail and got his permission to publish his answers on this blog:
Do you see more B2B buyers demanding instant and self-service access to the product or service (rather than just to information and education about the product)?
Joel: I think in general, B2B buyers want a trial whenever it is possible. A brochure or a video is great, but they are no substitute for test driving the actual product you plan to buy. It’s more educational, more convincing, and more comforting to see the real thing. And, given the choice of getting it immediately without a salesperson looking over their shoulder vs. scheduling a demo or a pilot that will be designed to hide any flaws, most B2B buyers will choose the former. However, I prefaced all this with “whenever it is possible.” Some products are so complex that it is simply too much work for the buyer to go it alone, especially those that need extensive configuration, imported data and integration and before they are useful, and in these cases the buyer will actually prefer to lean on the advice and assistance of a salesperson.
2. Do you see a strong correlation between trial sign-up and product usage and the conversion to a paid customer (as compared to say, downloading a white paper)?
Joel: Absolutely. Test driving the real thing demonstrates more interest and requires more commitment on the part of the buyer than reading a piece of content.
3. Do you see marketing automation systems, which you mention in your article, integrating trial usage related metrics into their lead scoring algorithms?
Joel: If they are smart marketers they will. As I mentioned, trial and usage demonstrate interest and commitment. If the statistics are segmented, e.g, what is tried and used, they also show interest at the feature/function level, which can be used in both marketing campaigns and sales calls. For all these reasons, trial and usage statistics are probably some of the strongest indicators you could integrate into a lead score.
Of course, I very much agree with Joel. Participating in a trial is the best possible indicator of potential customer commitment. Of course, I also believe that not all trial customers are created equal. As we discussed in a previous post: a prospect with many users and many hours of trial usage is a hotter prospect than a trial user who only logged in once. And yes, of course Totango can help you figure out who these hot prospects are!