Sales 2.0: The Bottoms-Up Sales Model

Sales 2.0 is the new way of selling mobile enterprise apps and services. Instead of selling to the enterprise via an expensive sales force, you sell directly to your target customers, often employees at the enterprise.

Last week at the MobileBeat conference, I moderated a discussion with John McGeachie from Evernote, Nancy Ramamurthi from TripIt and Jason Mills from Expensify on some of the strategies they took to achieve bottoms-up success – let me summarize below:

  1. UX/UI is still the #1 feature. One of the historical advantages of enterprise sales was the focus on functionality over user experience. This works if you have a sales force demonstrating each feature to an enterprise buyer but when an app is being downloaded directly by your target user, you are held to the same bar as a consumer app meaning the user is short-attention-spanned, fickle and will get frustrated easily.
  2. Like a consumer app, iterate and A/B test as much as you can with your target audience. Prosumers are ultimately consumers.
  3. Freemium is common and free-to-paid works (eg Webex, SurveyMonkey, QuickOffice) but paid-only is challenging. John w/ Evernote specifically mentioned how some of the greatest conversion came after 3 or 6 months of use of the application. Achieving freemium means converting a small percentage of a large number.
  4. Mobile results in awesome customer acquisition. Jason from Expensify mentioned that mobile was their largest customer acquisition channels and ironically one of their biggest challenges was actually making mobile users aware of their online experience.
  5. Mobile is also accounting for a greater percentage of paid conversion. As opposed to the desktop, the app store is challenged because of the lack of support for subscription billing but this can be remedied by offering longer-term plans (eg 3 months, 6 months, 1 year).
  6. On the topic of privacy and enterprise data, transparency and having clear guidelines reigned. Be clear to the enterprise what you do/don’t with the data and be ready to honor some take-down or data-removal requests.
  7. When it came to features, focus on the 80%. When the topic of bottoms-up sales and how it may butt-heads with an eventual direct enterprise sales team, the panel universally agreed that the features that made the roadmap were those that benefited their bottoms-up users (the 80% bucket!). And this meant even saying no to some enterprises as painful as that may be.
  8. There is a right time to begin enterprise sales along-side bottoms-up. When you have a critical mass of prosumers at common companies using your product, start selling group editions. Nancy with TripIt mentioned how they signed-up ~1300 companies in a relatively short amount of time with TripIt Pro but only brought this product to market 18 months ago or 5+ years since they started!

And now some observations:

  1. Most of these startups (Evernote, TripIt etc) didn’t know how successful they were going to be amongst prosumers in the enterprise at the onset. They launched consumer focus and got pulled into the enterprise. In the case of Expensify, they targeted the prosumer and got pulled into consumer with customers using Expensify as an alternative to Mint.
  2. The use cases addressed by each of these companies are very horizontal. They are not job persona or industry vertical specific but rather broadly useful and applicable putting them closer to the consumer category.
  3. All of them seemed to have taken shots in the dark with their price point but some price elasticity testing was done with Flash sales.

It was an awesome panel and I look forward to seeing more enterprise mobility apps take advantage of bottoms-up sales!

Author: mobileraj


3 thoughts on “Sales 2.0: The Bottoms-Up Sales Model”

  1. Hey Raj – thx again for hosting the panel. Awesome topic and you did a great job with grilling us on key q’s.

    Writing to make a quick correction and add a few thoughts on your nice recap here.

    The correction: we launched TripIt For Business about 3 1/2 years into TripIt’s “life.” (we’re coming up on our 5 year birthday in Sept!)

    The uber point you make is spot-on, though. Launching a successful new SMB offering on top of your consumer business won’t happen overnight. 😉

    One must first build a delightful product that solves a real problem(s) brilliantly well. This then earns you the right to offer other “for-pay” services people will actually buy.

    During the panel I used “time” to illustrate “it won’t happen overnight”… but what that really translates to is: traction (size matters), user engagement, and NPS or some proxy thereof. Growth without usage or love = dead end.

    There are situations (depending on category, competition, product, additional resources at hand, etc.) where the jump from consumer to SMB and beyond can go faster. This is especially if you have a “bottoms-up” strategy as an in-going & foundational assumption for your business, which wasn’t the case back when TripIt was first launched.

    I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more innovation taking place and shaking up the enterprise space…it’s only just begun.


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