Ed Weissman on B2B Opportunities For Startups Part 3

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Some excerpts from “The Best of Ed Weissman” Chapter 10 “Selling” item 240. How do you crack the enterprise world?” (originally published August 13, 2009). This is an outstanding list, I have added some comments after each one.

Find a critical business function being done in Excel and provide an alternative web app.

I think that applications that are deployed and in active use that are written in Excel, FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Access, and similar environments are frequently an indicator of an earlyvangelist. This is the “internal solution out of piece parts” that constitutes convincing proof of need provided that it has users.

Find a “business within a business” and automate it with modern technology. (Examples are small independent business units, warehouses, job shops, sample shops, “anything” a user has set up that “can” be autonomous.)

These are often poorly served by the primary IT organization and understand that paying an outside vendor will get them focus and customer care that’s unlikely to come from an internal group. This also provides a basis for resale by targeting similar groups in other firms.

Provide a modern satellite system to augment and integrate with an existing enterprise monster. (A separate module for one function like payroll or fixed assets, special processes for marketing, engineering, manufacturing, etc.) The possibilities are endless. “Somebody” is not getting what they need out of SAP, Oracle, or whatever.

Similar to business within a business it may provide a basis for resale to others in the same industry with the same need. If you target a niche small enough to be of little interest to SAP for example, it may be more than adequate to throw off millions or tens of millions of dollars in license/subscription revenue for you.

Provide a separate business unit with everything they need. This may be cheaper than the customer adding more licenses to their ERP system.

Provided that the business unit has distinct needs that corporate IT may have less interest in supporting this is a great target of opportunity.

The key to this approach is staying under corporate IT’s radar. The way to do that is by keeping your prices below your customer’s boss’s threshold. How do I know this can work? Because it has, many times. I have implemented dozens of apps in enterprises that they thought they could never have because of the existing software and sales model.

In a blog post from 2007 “Selling Around IT in Larger Firms” I suggested the following approaches fro avoiding IT

  1. Provide a service (deliver the results of you running your software) instead of selling software.
  2. Package your offering as SaaS at a price that’s below the radar of IT.
  3. Leverage an existing partner: Who else is your prospect buying from?
  4. Find someone who is in a lot of pain whose needs have been ignored by IT.
  5. Find someone whose needs span more than one IT administrative boundary, so that no single IT group views satisfying the need as their obligation.

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