Go for passionate users, not a large sales force

One of the key questions for every start-up in the B2B space is the go-to-market strategy and the natural initial focus is always on creating a scalable sales and marketing process. How do I create qualified leads at the right costs? How do I move these leads to opportunities and then paying customers? Can I do this with an inbound sales force or do I need to have people on the ground?

While figuring out a scalable maketing and sales approach is important, most start-ups forget that there is the much larger opportunity to have passionate users do the distribution for your company. This usually requires 3 things:

  • A simple product that provides value to a single user within a larger organization
  • A price point for the product that is low enough that a user would be willing to expense this on his personal credit card (the best scenario would be that the product is free)
  • A viral loop built into the product that ideally creates network effects
As soon as enough individuals are using the product within an organization, there will be a tipping point from when on the software is the de-facto standard in an organization and / or you can convince the organization to make it the standard. A lot of education companies (like Piazza or my portfolio company Edmodo) have used this approach very successfully and I would challenge every start-up with a B2B product to think through a similar approach for their own distribution challenge.



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