Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Technology as a Driver of the Consumerization of B2B

I am at the Founder.org conference right now, where I see many young B2B and B2C startups pitching to silicon valley investors (Founder.org is a VC fund investing in student founders in North America and Europe. I am working for the organization as an associate who sources and screens startups in Munich, Germany and New York City.)

What I found interesting among many of the B2B companies here is how they approach marketing and sales and how it differs from how traditional B2B marketing is often understood and taught. It's not just that their technology is the necessary 10x better (according to the rule of thumb for adoption) than the current market solutions, most of them are also trying to create a competitive advantage by using marketing technology to outpace traditional players.

There is Konux for example, a sensor startup that develops the hardware and software for the future of industry, an internet of sensors. They are automating and structuring marketing in a way that traditional sensor companies just cannot perform because they lack the digital mind set and skill set. They are doing content marketing to tell stories about their team and how their sensors are being used. They build up a CRM and an automated sales cycle that allow a leaner organization, wider reach and faster and more personalized follow-ups.

There also is Building Radar, a lead generation platform for the construction and interior design industry. Their algorithms not just screen the internet for future construction projects, their data management system also allows them to personalize their service and address the best matching supplier for any project.

I've talked to both teams and studied how their competitors are doing marketing and sales. For a so called digital native it is shocking how manual they still work and how slow they have grown over the years. Leads are being generated mostly offline, sometimes fax and telephone still are their preferred means of communication. They are operating in multi-billion dollar industries and they are now threatened by new companies who not just disrupt the technology used but first and foremost the marketing and sales technology. The Economist already brought up the topic in 2014, hinting to the fact that technology is one of the drivers that leads to a personalization of B2B sales. The core idea of this trend is that also businesses are run by people and business to business sales decisions are being made by human individuals. For me, it is exciting to see how digital technologies allow to transform not just products and services but also all aspects of business in any particular industry.

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