The refined art of marketing and sales in B2B startups
Stereotypically it’s probably successful B2C startups that steals most of the spotlight. But let’s not forget there’s equally prosperous B2B startups out there. As private consumers we might never notice them. We’re not even on their radar as the marketing and sales strategies are wired differently than in B2C startups. The question in the fifth StartupTalk at the Danish startup school PreSeed Academy is exactly what the best sales and marketing strategies are in a B2B startup and how they differ from the ones in B2C. And why not learn from startups that have proven very skillful at B2B sales and marketing. Forecast and Omnio are two startups, that have excelled in mastering the discipline. In very different manners, the two CEO’s Dennis Kayser from Forecast and Mikkel Christian Sørensen from Omnio have with their teams demonstrated just how to attack their respective markets and draw attention to themselves within those.
Forecast and Omnio deliver solutions optimizing processes in two significantly different ways, but both directed towards B2B markets. While Forecast has created a SaaS tool allowing project managers to maintain a total overview of their project portfolio and the resources each project demands, Omnio have developed a plug and play software that enables all industrial devices to be connected to an IoT-platform. They’ve found a way to translate the “language” of industrial devices, so they can speak together and deliver connected data — Google translate for industrial devices.
To go the distance in long sales cycles
Imagine creating one of the largest IoT projects approximately 10 years before the acronym was a big thing. That’s the story of the two founders behind Omnio, Mikkel Christian Sørensen, and Mikkel Schönherr Thøgersen. They’ve both worked at the Danish shipping giant Maersk Line before deciding to become their own bosses. It was during the time at Maersk Line they headed up a large IoT project connecting nothing less than 270,000 containers to a software solution making it possible to monitor the containers around the world without having to do it manually. That one project gave them the insight that it was not only in Maersk Line that they were struggling to find smart solutions for connecting industrial devices with software. It sparked the idea for the IoT platform that they today call Omnio.
And they’ve proven to be right about the need for such a platform in big industrial corporations.
Omnio is still in the early stages of their startup journey and have only recently begun their first pilot projects but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from their experience in B2B sales and marketing. Because they’ve already proven successful in getting attention from big giants like Schneider Electric, Intel and SAP. One thing is they’ve been included in and won highly recognized accelerators and pitch competitions like Techstars IoT in NYC, where 10 startups out of 1100 applicants pitched or Schneider Electric Startup Competition, which they won in Paris this year.What really counts is that all the successful pitches have created a buzz around Omnio, which have already resulted in a pilot project with the German software giant SAP and a partnership with Intel through their startup program. One of the big challenges for B2B startups building products for corporate mastodons is that the sales cycles are extremely long and resource intensive, which can exhaust them even before they’ve gotten started. This is where Omnio’s team has the upper hand, because of their past at Maersk Line, Omnio’s CEO, Mikkel Christian Sørensen and his co-founder Mikkel Schönherr Thøgersen know the name of the game so to speak.
Everything can be automated
At the same time as the Omnio founders were leading the IoT project at Maersk Line in 2009, Dennis Kayser was finishing his master’s degree in computer science at the University of Copenhagen. A few years earlier, he and three fellow computer science students had worked on a project for a big Danish bank. It regarded creating a solution that could help the bank managing their 150+ projects and the 100+ assigned project managers. The project sparked a business idea. The four students saw the potential for building a software solution that couldn’t only handle but even predict the resources needed in a project. Six years later the company Forecast was founded, and a lot have happened since then. In just a few months Forecast managed to grow from selling in two countries to 32 countries. if everything goes to plan their first permanent offshore office will be open for business in New York end of 2018.
And it’s not just from looking at the Forecast product you can tell the four founders are computer scientists. CEO, Dennis Kayser and his team have really managed make the most of their field of expertise — it’s probably fair to call them professional nerds. They think in machines and systems and make a point out automating pretty much everything. When it comes down to their sales and marketing strategies they’ve been extremally skilled in using data systematically to build and automate their sales funnel — persistently finetuning everything, for example how to target and retarget leads, retain customers and not least timing when to upsell.
And who wouldn’t want to learn how to run a smooth and effective sales machine like that? And guess what now you have the chance. Dennis Kayser have agreed to join the speaker line up for StartupTalk #5 at PreSeed Academy on August 29th. He will speak alongside Mikkel Christian Sørensen from Omnio, who will share his experience with successfully going through long sales cycles and not least how to approach B2B sales and marketing in the early stages before you have a finished product to sell.