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Understanding Enterprise Product Companies

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Companies building enterprise tech products are different from companies building mass consumer tech.  Large-ticket deals, long sales cycles, name-and-face customer relationships, and complex buying processes shape what we build and how we bring it to market. Having a hundred customers each spending $1M/yr is a radical departure from a million customers each spending $100/yr.

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Understanding Enterprise Product Companies

  1. 1. Understanding Enterprise Product Companies Rich Mironov Pacific Northwest Product Management Community 25 March 2019
  2. 2. • Veteran product manager/exec/strategist • Organizing product organizations • Smokejumper VP Products • 6 B2B startups • Product management blog since 2002 • Founded Product Camp About Rich Mironov @RichMironov @PMCNW
  3. 3. Christoph Janz consumer } SMB/department } enterprise } @RichMironov @PMCNW
  4. 4. • Projects, clients • Staff augmentation, talent for hire • “Bespoke, custom, agile, lean, experienced” • $: margin by project Professional Services? • Products, customers • Target market, defined features, list price • “This problem, this metric, our solution” • $: licenses, seats, transactions, volume Product Company? @RichMironov @PMCNW
  5. 5. • User = buyer • Can talk to lots of prospects (with plenty left) • Can run A/B tests with product variants, sign-up variants, pricing options, alternate messaging… • Identifying need > building solution • User can “buy” before product works Unstated B2C Assumptions @RichMironov @PMCNW
  6. 6. 1. Long sales cycles, few data points, weak pre-sales attribution 2. Buyers ≠ users 3. Strong organizational incentives for sales escalations Differences For B2B Product Companies @RichMironov @PMCNW
  7. 7. • 9-18 month close, dozens of touches: what moved needle? • Can’t run live A/B market tests • Each internal group takes credit for wins • Vignettes and recency bias 1. Long Sales Cycles, Weak Attribution, Few Data Points @RichMironov @PMCNW
  8. 8. • Validate problems directly with dozens of customers • You, personally • Learning interviews ≠ selling meetings • Dig deep on problems, motivations, quantifiable value, buying processes, alternatives before pitching solutions • Identify segments, qualifiers (then share widely) • Outside win/loss analysis (not sales self-inspection) What To Do? @RichMironov @PMCNW
  9. 9. • “Closing” meetings • Organized by Sales • Goal is to close • Anticipate/answer objections • Never raise new issues or ask about new needs • Listening/learning meetings • Organized by Product Management • Open-ended questions • Dig for blockers, issues, ideas, new concerns • Trial-close unbuilt products, unproven solutions Two Kinds of Customer Meetings
  10. 10. • Your engaged paying users interact with your system (SaaS) • Who logged in this week? Entered data? Checked status? Ran a report? Needed help? Saved money? • A/B tests, non-vanity metrics • Predictors of good onboarding, active users, renewals? Actionable Data from User Activity @RichMironov @PMCNW
  11. 11. • Two sets of benefits and features and success criteria • Users want great apps; buyers want great ROI • Roles and titles vary • Complex set of influencers 2. Buyers ≠ Users @RichMironov @PMCNW
  12. 12. • Say “buyer” or “user” instead of “customer” • Interview both, understand both • Users want benefits/features; buyers want ROI • Sales-led Customer Advisory Boards are selling events What To Do? @RichMironov @PMCNW
  13. 13. “By using our tech support knowledge automator, you can reduce your support time per call by 25%.” Hard Cost Savings for Buyer Proposed savings 25% Your savings $65,000 Your support calls/year 22,000 Average minutes/call 16 Total annual support hours 5,900 Current support team FTE 4 Average salary $65,000 Annual staff cost $260,000
  14. 14. • High-powered, expensive sales teams • Long sales cycles, lumpy revenue • CEO tracks major deals by name • Sales wins deals; product loses deals • “How hard could it be to add this one tiny feature?” 3. Strong Organizational Incentives For Sales Escalations @RichMironov @PMCNW
  15. 15. • Don’t be offended or surprised. We love Sales! • Identify executives who own trade-offs, feel pain • Comp plans outweigh good intentions • Preemptively discuss when no deal is on fire • Frame all requests as trade-offs. Compare all options in dollars. Replace AND with OR. • Build trust and working relationships with Sales Sales Escalations: What to Do? @RichMironov @PMCNW
  16. 16. 1. Dozens of in-depth interviews replace hundreds of market funnel A/B tests 2. Product must actually deliver on core promise before we can earn meaningful revenue 3. Understand and serve both buyers and users 4. Intense pressure for “specials” Enterprise Product Takeaways @RichMironov @PMCNW
  17. 17. Rich Mironov Mironov Consulting San Francisco, CA, USA +1-650-315-7394 @richmironov