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Ask HN: Advice on B2B Sales?
15 points by slowenough 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
I developed a product that I wish to sell to business. I wouldn't say this MVC is 100% perfect. Still some issues (especially around typing on mobile), but it's nearly (or past) ready for reaching out.

Anyone who had experience on either side of that B2B sales process, please jump in a share what you think I ought to know.

I'm looking to be successful at licensing, selling outright or selling as a service this product.

You can try the service at https://free.cloudbrowser.xyz

It's developed with security in mind, but in reality there may be a better / more nuanced application.

If it helps, for background, this was about 6 months of FT work, self funded based on my previous contracting revenue. The idea came from a goal I have to build a web scraping platform with work reuse and this is a layer of that, that I discovered is also called "remote browser isolation". Finding out a particular layer could be factored out as a product gave me ideas about self-funding more runway, as well as possibly launching a side-business in and of itself. Right now, my TODO list is working out the remaining typing bugs on mobile, and providing some file upload/download support via a secure web gateway (basically displaying PDFs as PNGs).

I haven't done this before and there's lots of uncertainty so I think it's a good time to seek structured advice from people who know.

Quite the coincidence as I was just contemplating writing a bit about enterprise sales. So a few points after having been on both the buyer and seller side of the table.

People generally never understands: "This can be configured" or "This is a prototype, it will have all this functionality in x months". Investors trained in the act of spotting future possibility of very technical people MIGHT understand it. But never count on it. SHOW - don't tell, whenever possible.

Therefore always try to be as specific as possible and present a solution that is as close to the buyers pain-point as possible. Research the hell out of your potential customers and present your product in a way that solves their current problems. You can succeed in selling "future potential" but it is a lot harder, especially if the current proposition does not solve any pain-points out of the box.

If you get a chance to present your product then ask a lot of questions up front to tailor your presentation as much as possible to the audience present. Perhaps even prepare your presentation to be able to go more or less technical depending on audience. Or if the product can be used in several ways then prepare to go either way and ask at the presentation what the buyers usual way of working is and go that way.

Thank you, this is helpful!

100+ comments on "Ask HN: How do B2B startups sell to corporations?" two weeks ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21367151

The starting point is figuring out 'who might want to buy this, and why'

This. Without getting into too much detail, based on what you've written, it seems like you've spent time building a solution and are now looking for a problem (with business value) to match that solution with. Ideally, you start with that problem and go from there, but, in this case I would switch gears immediately away from development and towards validation (which is an earlier stage than sales).

OK, if I passed that point, and have a list of companies who might be interested, how do I sell to them?

Thanks, this looks good. I'm reading it and it does make it seem hard.

> "The product sells itself? ... But as many startups discover to their horror — after they “land” users and try to “expand” to more departments in a large company or government agency — this is far from the truth. "

> "Decision-making in large organizations is a long, tortuous process due to legacy technology deployments, internal politics, entrenched homegrown solutions, sunk cost of integrations, account control by incumbent vendors, and the sheer size and scale involved"

How can 1 person even approach this difficulty?

tbh I don't have experience with Sales. I just know of Holloway, new resource that lists a lot of high quality guides.

Are you selling to enterprise?

I don't really see the usecase for this kind of software. It looks like it could be useful even to individual clients, maybe even more than for businesses?

I know I made it sound like I just developed a solution that is looking for a problem.

Actually, RBI (remote browser isolation // cloud based internet isolation) is a big industry. Menlo Security, Symantec, WebGap, Light Point, By Light, and more, have products in this space.

It's not really a question of "does the market exist? Does it have a usecase?" and more of "How to find customers with this need? How to approach and sell them?"

Granted, it is a niche so I get if you don't know it at first glance.

ok sorry I made it sound like this, that was lack of my knowledge about security.

My advice is find someone who has experience with Enterprise sales and ask for a chat. I think it might be very hard to sell this kind of solution while bootstrapping, maybe it would be easier to raise money and find a sales experienced cofounder. But I don't have experience with Enterprise sales

I used to work at a company (they also dealt with stuff that required NATO clearance) that had extremely restricted internet access in order to protect the internal network. To access the internet each time we logged into a virtual machine controlled by IT and each file downloaded was cleared by IT separately. This obviously slowed us down a lot and since I was an external (student) consultant there we shifted to using laptops + hotspot to actually do our work.

Sorry, "MVP" in case it's not clear.

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