A recent ET article talked about the snowballing of B2B startups into multimillion-dollar successes and the new wave of entrepreneurs chasing the (formerly non-glamorous) B2B space. At Blume, this was no surprise to us, for we’ve always believed that B2B holds tremendous potential – after all, Blume’s first cheque was to B2B co E2E networks which went for IPO in 2018.
Having said that, our learnings inform us that domestic B2B businesses are never easy to build or scale, and an inevitable turn in the journey is exploring alternative or newer markets. With that context, we hosted a panel discussion, as part of our annual Blume Day event, on ‘Indian enterprise solution start-ups and their global conquests’.
Moderated by Nishant Rao, previously COO, FreshDesk and Country Manager, LinkedIn India, the panel comprised founders and leaders of key Blume B2B portfolio companies Covacsis (Tarun Mishra), Dataweave (Sachit Singhi), Exotel (Shivku Ganesan) and Servify (Sreevathsa Prabhakar). Nishant Rao kicked off the discussion by summarizing the B2B journey as “For B2B cos, unit economics is nothing but bringing in dollars and spending in rupees”, recalling his Freshworks time.
The panellists responded by uninhibitedly discussing strategies on market selection and sales, scaling product, organisation, and most interestingly, their failures. Through this blog post, we are summarizing the four big takeaways from their journeys:
1. Market selection (i.e. choosing a market to expand to) should be a factor of
a. consumer behavior – a large enterprise in India might behave very similar to a medium enterprise in the US.
b. geography – what are the common attributes between your homeland and the next target market? (Some factors could be population size, literacy rates, customer propensity to buy / use the product.)
2. There is no ‘one shoe fits all’ sales strategy (among inside, field or channel sales) for your business. However, the following pointers might act as hygiene –
a. Inbound sales work when the business offering is a no-brainer / absolutely must-have buy for the enterprise (e.g., customer engagement support)
b. Field sales can be efficient where you need to do a more proactive sale of the core offering
c. Channel sales is a high-touch, longer sales cycle effort. However, it will most likely reap sizeable outputs post sales conversion.
The panel concluded that startups should be agile enough to toggle between different sales strategy as they scale.
3. For Indian companies who’ve discovered bigger markets overseas, it might become critical to hire local bench strength (especially sales and support). A few of our panelists strongly believed that a native team, if trained well on the product pitch, can make a much more nuanced sale to the customer as it understands the local market better.
4. With sales and org building dominating the playbook formation, scaling product in terms of regulatory compliance shouldn’t take a backseat. Thinking about data security is non-trivial to the long-term success of the business.
The hour-long discussion also grazed upon topics such as pricing, product instrumentation (identifying the right metrics to track product success) etc. In the interest of our readers, many of whom are aspiring B2B entrepreneurs, we’ve tried to summarize the most important takeaways that would address their queries in the area of international expansion.