For technology startups that build a B2B software product, the following seven fundamentals are important for growing their sales.
When developing a B2B software product focus on attention to detail. Plan ahead and schedule the necessary downtime to clean up and to improve your product code and to upgrade its quality. Not only, spend time on security, scalability, and correctness, but also spend time testing parts of your code and tuning product performance. Through these measures your product is enterprise ready from day one. It is worth spending a little more time up front and doing things correctly in the long run while reflecting on how to do things better than sprinting in panic to redo bad code in the middle of a Corporate customer due diligence process.
In the corporate ecosystem, different systems exchange information all the time with each other, reinforcing each other’s value by working together. So when you are building a tech product, bear in mind that integration friendliness is very important for the Corporate customer. Integration with other commonly used vendors adds value to your product, and importantly reduces the switching cost for your corporate customer.
Successful B2B software products strive to transition into platforms that create ecosystems of various modules or apps that serve their Corporate customers. Even if you choose not to allow third party companies to build on top of your platform, building your product with a platform state of mind will allow you to build more modular software that can be sold separately, or as part of a combined solution to the end-user.
As a B2B software provider, your product has often access to your corporate customer and / or his customers’ sensitive personal data. It’s part of your fiduciary and / or legal duty (GDPR) as a company to protect this information to the best of your ability and therefore you need to embed security measures in the product from the beginning by employing engineers with information security backgrounds. Security from the ground up also means that inside your own company it’s vital to manage access control. No one should have access to servers, client data or other sensitive information if they don’t need to and activity logs should also be maintained for all users and customers. Using the right tools and encryption standards and staying up to date with the latest vulnerabilities and exposures is a good way to start implementing security processes and infrastructure, inside your company and product.
User Interface / User Experience (UI/UX) is a very subjective topic and there are several schools of thought regarding what constitutes a good one, however a fundamental rule of thumb for a B2B software product is, “design for your users”. So if the product you are selling doesn’t face end-users, your product focus is on low latency, high reliability and scalability. If your B2B software product is facing users, the focus should be user delight, comfort, and simplicity.
A B2B software product should offer deployment flexibility through both a shared infrastructure and/ or an onsite deployment, since certain Corporate customers (in Financial Services, Medical, and Education) might have rigorous regulatory requirements and need all software products to be deployed in their own data centres. On the other hand, other Corporate Customers might be more flexible and prefer a deployment on the cloud on either shared or dedicated servers.
Great B2B software companies live and breathe through continuous product integration, monitoring, and testing so they release code frequently and have tools to monitor their deployment for bugs or failures. Application monitoring and testing is part of the release workflow so that you can improve your product quickly and test it soon after. Having engineers with developer operations (DevOps) skills, and end to end testing capabilities will add a layer of stability to your product.
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Christos Lytras – Managing Partner