Enterprise Startups: Actionable B2B Sales Tips from R3’s Community

September 20, 2020

By David Vatchev, R3


Startup innovation helps enterprises to reduce costs, improve customer experience, facilitate new connectivity and remain competitive.

The unprecedented uncertainty in 2020 has left enterprise startups looking ahead to a new era of accelerated adoption of digital transformation. However, in the short term, reduced IT budgets and a move to virtual selling means successful enterprise businesses must adapt sales and marketing strategies to keep their sales pipeline flowing.

The R3 Venture Development team supports early stage startups building on Corda. We recently tapped into the expertise of industry veterans, enterprise sales leaders and innovation leads in our community to help startups accelerate their sales strategy.

If you are an enterprise startup looking to execute on your B2B sales goals, then this post is for you.

1. What are the current enterprise digital transformation trends?

Dean Demellweek, Digital Transformation Lead, BNP Paribas:

Digital transformation is key for post-Covid enterprise resilience because DLT represents a fundamental change in the way enterprises create value. It provides new collaborative infrastructure for the next generation of business applications which will enable entirely new business models and markets.

Right now, we see DLT applications in the areas where automation and standardization are limited — such as collateral mobility, OTC trading and post-trading environment banks, and supply chain resilience more broadly.

The big focus from now will be on the direct wide-scale application and implementation of emerging technologies. The convergence of cloud for a more scalable remote tech stack, AI to effectively analyse and make data sets actionable, DLT to transfer value across multiple recipients privately and directly, IoT to enhance operations and connectivity and of course, cyber security and risk control governance for a partially remote workforce.

2. How have innovation budgets and IT spend been impacted by Covid-19?

Alpesh Doshi, Founder & CEO, Fintricity:

Innovation budgets have decreased in the short term — because firms have been preserving their cash and deprioritizing non-critical projects. Gartner predicts IT spending will decline by 8% in 2020, dropping from $3.7trillion in 2019 to $3.4trillion. Every major budget request needs to be signed off by the exec board for most leading enterprises.

However, 2021 will see more innovation budget, aligned to digital transformation initiatives. Any offering that will help on collaboration across distributed teams, workflow efficiency, security infrastructure and cloud migration from on-premise stands to benefit. DLT is especially primed to benefit from upcoming opportunities around supply chain and ecosystem/network building initiatives. Despite IT spending’s downturn, spending on remote working apps and platforms is projected to reach double-digit growth rates this year.

3. Where do enterprises see the greatest need for start-up innovation right now?

John Grispon, Founder & Sales Coach, Early Revenue:

The major shift common to all enterprises is the once headquartered workforce has now become a remote workforce, either partially or completely. This key factor has accelerated the rate of technology adoption which has been evident in cybersecurity, data analytics, collaboration across distributed teams, cloud migration from on premise and of course decentralized solutions.

Startup solutions don’t just need to be innovative, they need to directly address the greatest customer needs right now. Targeting the areas of greatest impact to customers with a directly relevant solution, translates into providing a great customer experience.

4. How can enterprise start-ups find their product-market fit post Covid-19?

Alban Salord, HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management:

Startups need to ask what kind of problem their innovation was addressing before the pandemic and what specifically changed with the emergence of Covid-19?

While this may be significantly different, the actual process behind finding product-market-fit has not changed. The best product-market fit will be to identify the clients that derive the greatest value out of the product. The environment and the needs may change, but this core principal stays the same.

For example, big corporates continue to derive value out of smart contracts, but what if you enabled smaller entities or even individuals that were not contracting because of the cost and complexity to contract? They will derive proportionally a larger value than a big corporate (from not being able to contract, to being able to). These will likely be the best fit and have the best chance of finding that elusive first client. Once identified the direct approach with the value proposition at the center is most likely to pay off.

5. What works as an effective sales and tracking strategy to generate new deals?

Pete Townsend, Founder & CEO, Norio Ventures:

Now that your enterprise sales targets are out of the comfort of their meeting rooms, take advantage of it. Those ‘VP-sales-types’ at startups that relied on making the metropolitan meeting rounds every week to build out their pipelines and execute their sales funnels have shifted remotely. Take advantage of this to conduct more productive meetings, specific pre-determined agendas and set automated follow-ups.

Understand your target’s ways of working and how their comfort zones have changed, and use that to your advantage. But remember, a smiling and engaged target on the other end of a video call leaves you with nothing more than a warm fuzzy if you don’t finish that meeting with actionable follow-ups to fill up that sales funnel and feed a measurable and adaptable sales process.

Some key metrics to track to ensure you are executing an effective sales strategy are:

  • New Meetings/Demos booked
  • Lead Velocity Rate (LVR)
  • Sales Funnel Transition Rates
  • Customer NPS (Net Promoter Score)

Finally ensure customers are not merely buying, but also upgrading and adding more services by continuing to check in and offering value beyond the initial sale.

6. How can startups manage increasingly delayed Pilots/Proof of Concepts?

Paul Melchiorre, Operating partner, Stripes:

Sell the vision as soon as you are confident you can deliver it in a suitable timeframe and you’ll have stakeholder buy-in. Whenever, you start the purchasing process for POCs and pilots with executive reviews, make sure you don’t waste the time fueling your technology team’s dream if it does not have enterprise customer backing. Move swiftly and decisively and ensure you are making sound business decisions right from the start.

7. What role does DLT play in a post Covid-19 enterprise innovation strategy?

Arzu Toren, Managing Director, Aren Strategy:

DLT facilitates the connectivity, security, speed and traceability which is proving to be crucial for all businesses. However, the regulatory aspect, scalability and limited adoption still continue to be major bottlenecks. If those challenges are overcome by a collaborative approach, and the advantages of the technology are highlighted in a feasible way, then DLT has the potential to pioneer the innovation strategies in post Covid-19 era.

Enterprises primarily work with startups to streamline their processes, automation, decrease their costs and increase the speed of their services. Some tips for founders to better engage enterprises are:

a) Provide technical pitches which explain the value of the solution, rather than the technology.

b) Providing direct answers to what, why and how questions.

c) Offer modular architecture and incremental, and therefore faster, adoption

d) Start small and easily integrate into an enterprises workflow instead of offering big transitions, requiring multiple sign offs.

e) Provide clarity around regulation, corporate governance, and security.

8. Which blockchain applications are seeing greatest momentum?

Ajit Tripathi, Fintech Strategy & Business Development Advisor:

On the enterprise shared ledgers front, trade finance continues to gather momentum in terms of investment and traction. In capital markets, while digital assets and CBDC are getting most of the headlines, enterprise customers still want top of stack applications and scalable solutions, before they continue to spend on the infrastructure layer.

The short term DLT winners will be applications where automation and standardization are limited — such as KYC on-boarding, collateral mobility and increasingly digital asset platforms. However, the big winners will be emerging tech providers that integrate the DLT layer to enhance functionality and interact seamlessly with cloud and AI offerings.

9. What actionable tips would you give to an enterprise startup founder right now?

Charlie Moore, Digital Transformation Leader / FinTech Advisor:

With crisis comes opportunity. Covid has demonstrated the need for easy, compliant collaboration across organizations, appetite for automation and requirement for everyone to be using consistent quality data. Post Covid, digital and innovation budgets will be robust amongst the market leaders with consortium models continuing to help drive adoption.

Appetite towards new technology initiatives and associated budgets have generally improved. Think outside the box. Seek opportunities to listen to clients changing needs and float ideas by people as much as possible. Be flexible in how you go about helping and structuring deals. Red tape is not as rigid as it was a year ago!

Conclusions

  • DLT solutions that provide the collaborative infrastructure to support the “new normal” will continue to gain momentum.
  • IT and innovation budgets will continue to increase in the coming year as digital transformation takes center stage for enterprises going forward.
  • Continue to address value for the customer. Move beyond just “innovation” or “disruption” and quantify the benefits of your offering.
  • Track relevant sales metrics for a remote selling environment and keep aligning your strategy to that of your customer’s success.
  • Execute as soon as you have stakeholder buy-in. Without full support, move on and mobilize resources to where they are most needed.
  • Offer modular architecture and incremental adoption, to help integrate easily and quickly into a customer’s workflow.
  • Align your DLT offering to complement and support other emerging tech enablers such as Cloud, AI, IoT and cyber security.

A big thank you to our community mentors of industry veterans, enterprise sales leaders and innovation leads who contributed to this post. We wanted to bring as many views together as possible, creating a broad picture of the current enterprise sales landscape. We hope you found these recommendations insightful and applicable.

Get in touch

  • Looking to validate your offering with customers?
  • Interested to learn more from other startup founders?
  • Searching for mentors and industry experts?
  • Planning your go-to market (GTM) strategy?

The R3 Venture Development team is committed to accelerating and cultivating solutions built by startups and entrepreneurs at every stage of their blockchain journey. We offer content, workshops, technical support, introductions and more. To learn more or to join our ecosystem visit r3.com/venture-development and https://r3corda.typeform.com/to/DRAnKX?source=MediumEnterprise SalesPost&contact=david