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August 2022

Driving Revenue With Enterprise Partners: How to Scale Efficiently With a B2B2C Model

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Every startup shares a common goal: getting people to use and pay for its product. Some sell directly to customers or businesses (a B2C or B2B business model). Others sell to another business that in turn distributes the product to its own customer base (a B2B2C business model). The latter, when executed well, can be a hyper-efficient and reliable way to get a solution into the hands of many.

Two of our GTM Council Members built successful go-to-market motions at brands that landed on a B2B2C model as their path to efficient growth. Nick Fairbairn (Experian, Gabi, Dollar Shave Club) grew Gabi’s ARR by over 400% in under two years, as it evolved its direct-to-consumer insurance shopping solution to an embeddable B2B partner offering. Allan Ng (Freenome, Livongo, Google) was the first marketer at Livongo, a diabetes management platform, and led the team as they focused their efforts on their employer benefits solution. Nick and Allan shared their best practices to build a sustainable revenue model and hire the teams to make it all happen.

Signing a contract is just the first of many steps. Real revenue rests on the “second sale.”

What startups often overlook is what happens after they sign that enterprise deal. Keep in mind that for many enterprise contracts, what’s really driving revenue is when an employee or customer signs up and starts using the product. This is what we call the “second sale.” Set yourself up with the right infrastructure to make that second sale happen. Think through what marketing tactics you’ll use and hire the right team. Initially, at Livongo, we followed a lot of the typical benefits approaches to getting people signed up, like using one-sheets or adding information to the company’s benefits portal. It was more of an operations approach than a marketing one, and we had relatively low take rates. To solve this, we brought in a growth marketing team to drive conversion and look at each step of the signup funnel. We ran tests to determine and optimize the channels, messaging, and approaches that would drive more signups.—Allan Ng

If you’re going B2B2C, direct-to-consumer still has an important role to play. Consider it your testing ground.

Even if you’ve determined that the bulk of your revenue will come through enterprise clients, there is still value in keeping a direct connection with your consumer. If you have a direct-to-consumer product, keep these D2C marketing channels on and use them to test pricing and messaging. It’s a low-risk way to experiment—you don’t want to mess up on your big enterprise accounts. Use what you learn on the consumer side to improve the version that you sell to enterprise partners. —Nick Fairbairn

Yes, salespeople are key. But actually, there are two other roles you should be focusing on at the same time.

When building your team, the first person to hire is most likely an enterprise salesperson that's going to get deals signed. But there’s a lot more to it. I started by hiring a big sales team for outreach, but quickly realized that I needed more people to carry out our vision, and more importantly, our execution. Hire a team who will work with product and engineering to ensure that the client can onboard quickly and smoothly. Without a good implementation team, the entire process gets slowed down, and it limits your ability to launch and start reaping real revenue, not to mention evolve the product based on the feedback you receive. —Nick Fairbairn

You also need a strong customer success team to own the relationship, and to make sure the partnership launches and scales. They’re on the front lines, and having a good partnership with the client is critical in getting the data and feedback you need to make sure the second sale goes smoothly.  —Allan Ng

Big enterprise clients will ask for lots of customization. Expect diminishing returns over 5%.  

There’s a certain level of customization that you need to offer in order for your marketing to work for the enterprise. But, you also don’t want to get bogged down by tons of requests. A good rule of thumb: offer 5% customization.

For example, early at Livongo, we allowed clients to customize each marketing piece for their employees. That quickly became overwhelming and burdensome for our team, given the number of changes we’d get. So, we adjusted our strategy and identified a few specific areas that the client could customize. For example, we’d ask them to fill in the right nomenclature for their employees, whether it was “customer advocates” or “associates,” and so forth. This made the marketing collateral relevant and gave the client a sense of meaningful customization without slowing us down. —Allan Ng

Your metrics will evolve over time. Re-evaluate them at every stage.

Goals and metrics will likely change dramatically depending on where you are in the process. First, you’ll want to measure your pipeline. Deals can take months to close, so start by measuring your outreach and how many meetings you’re getting. Then, it becomes about how many businesses you’ve signed. This is an important KPI at the beginning to help establish credibility with other enterprise prospects. Once you build momentum there, shift the focus to how many conversions you’re getting from individual users or employees within the enterprise partner’s base, and run tests around how you can drive more and more signups with each launch. Later on, once you’ve gotten a good conversion rate and more people are using the product, you’ll want to look at engagement and satisfaction metrics. —Nick Fairbairn

Learn more about what it takes to build a winning go-to-market strategy from the Canvas Go-to-Market Council. Check out previous posts about growth channels to use now, building out a sales team, positioning, product-led growth, setting up an early growth engine, and partnerships. To ensure you receive all the latest GTM insights, subscribe to the Canvas newsletter.

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