Get key employees inside companies to use your product and do the selling for you by inviting their co-workers to try your platform. When more employees use your product, company executives will pay attention to it and evaluate the possibility of adopting your software organization-wide.
📓Internal Influencers: Employees with social clout and influence inside the company. The prerequisite to making B2C2B happen is identifying the end-users who are the company influencers or the employees who have a saying. As Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint, highlights
“The power of the B2C2B model hinges on the influence of the C in a sales process. If a startup can convince either a large number of employees in a company to use a product or if they can convince a few of the right people that this is the right product for them, that startup benefits in two ways.”
📓Land and expand: Land refers to getting more employees to use your product. Expand involves encouraging those employees to promote your product company-wide and attract their co-workers to use your software.
By putting a B2C2B Growth Model in place, you’ll be able to access different growth opportunities, such as:
Even the most successful product-led growth (PLG) companies reach a point when additional growth requires developing an enterprise sales playbook. For example, Atlassian, the poster child for the self-serve strategy, had to blend its PLG model with an enterprise sales framework.
To move upmarket, companies have two sales options: top-down and bottom-up. The top-down sales motion is based on outbound and account-based marketing. In other words, you need an outbound sales team focused specifically on identifying, segmenting, and reaching out to enterprise accounts. Usually, the outbound team focuses on connecting and engaging with executives and decision-makers. Once the executives approve your product by signing the contract, the company employees can start using it.
The bottom-up sales motion or the B2C2B model aims to attract company employees to use the product. This process is also called “land.” The next step is to transform these employees into product advocates and get them to promote the product inside the company they’re working for. This process is called “expand.”
The ultimate goal of bottom-up sales is to access a company through its employees and, through their advocacy efforts, to become the company’s main provider.
The power dynamics inside companies are changing.
Nowadays, employees have the freedom to research, try, and use the best tools for their professional needs. That’s only natural as end-users (aka the employees) are the ones adopting (or not) a specific tool.
If a manager buys a year-long software license, but the employees cannot use the software or get the results they need, there might be no renewal after one year.
Employees or end-users are gaining more control over the tools they’re using.
The B2C2B model is not new. Venture Capitalist Tomasz Tunguz wrote about it in 2015. To this day, there’s very little on the B2C2B model. However, more and more SaaS companies use this model to move upmarket.
► Quick note: It’s essential to get your platform certified. When more people and teams start using your product, the company’s Chief Security Officer or the Chief Information Officer will pop up and ask questions such as:
If you don’t pass this barrier, the B2C2B model will never work for your product. To start growing inside a company, you have to get certified. You need certifications such as:
Employees are usually searching for new tools they can try. Everyone wants to get their job done efficiently. However, the employees aren’t always willing to pay for these tools. At least not from their wallet. According to Stack Overflow, 77,1% of developers prefer to start a free trial when researching new tools.
To make B2C2B work, make sure to offer a freemium plan or a free trial to acquire end users, aka company employees.
► Quick note: A freemium plan is desirable. Free trials end after one or two weeks, allowing people to use the platform for a limited time. And this time is often insufficient to derive value from the product and get other teammates onboard. However, a freemium plan will allow company employees to understand its value and share it with the team.
Some experts say that per-user pricing is outdated and harmful to SaaS companies. Obviously, in some cases, per-user pricing is unjustified. However, companies such as Notion, Slack, Asana, and Miro keep growing despite offering per-user pricing.
This growth happens because of the network effect. What’s that?
As Andrew Chen explains in his book:
“In its classic usage, a network effect describes what happens when products get more valuable as more people use them.”
Tools such as Notion, Slack, Asana, and Miro enable employees and teams to generate value. The more people use and engage via these platforms, the more value is created for the buying company.
That’s why per-user pricing is not only justified but also a core attribute of the B2C2B model.
Although it can work for many PLG companies, the B2C2B model is highly effective for SaaS companies developing team and collaboration-based software. Why? To answer this question, let’s review the mechanics of the B2C2B Model:
Now, let’s go back to step number 2. When does someone ask a co-worker to try a new platform?
You can’t ignore option #1, but in most cases, end-users start to popularize the tools they’re trying when there’s a chance to collaborate via the platform.
Let’s put ourselves in the employees’ shoes:
Let’s look at Miro to identify some good practices you could include in your B2C2B playbook.
Miro is a team platform by excellence. The company offers tools for meetings and brainstorming, diagramming, agile workflows, planning, and project management.
Miro started as a B2C company. Everyone could (and still can) use the platform. However, after realizing that 90% of the accounts were used for teamwork, the company leadership developed a B2C2B framework.
Miro’s free plan offers limited options, such as 3 editable boards only. However, you can create a free plan, build a board, and invite an unlimited number of co-workers to collaborate on the platform.
That’s “expand” by excellence. Although Miro doesn’t allow free users to do much via the board, it encourages users to invite as many co-workers as possible to collaborate on the platform.
Miro’s free plan includes limited features yet unlimited users. That’s a brilliant strategy. Just think about it: An employee makes a free account on Miro and creates a board. The user can’t do much, as there’s a limited number of boards. However, they can invite as many teammates as they want to collaborate on the board. As a result, Miro gets more eyes and hands on the platform, leading to higher adoption rates within a team or company.
I’m seeing Miro improving the sales motion by transforming the B2C2B model into a B2C2B2C model. Miro offers its enterprise customers the possibility of inviting an unlimited number of guests. These guests can be the company’s customers or other stakeholders who’ll be exposed to Miro and, maybe, give it a try.
A company’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO) doesn’t have to waste time learning whether Miro is safe or not. They can simply check the Miro’s Trust Center, which includes concepts such as:
Moreover, the CSO or CIO can access the entire list of Miro’s certifications and attestations.
Miro’s team understood that CEOs, CSOs, or CIOs would be interested in Miro’s compliancy status and policies only if they consider making a serious move. In other words, only those executives ready to close a deal with Miro will want to check the compliance documentation.
Miro makes product adoption easy and fun. People can attend live or on-demand webinars, workshops, task-oriented courses, and more. Also, people can engage with other Miro users, find inspiration, get help, or ask questions. All that for free.
You can use your outbound strategy to strengthen your B2C2B model. For example, you can target key company employees with a personalized approach.
Here’s one tip on identifying key employees: Check people’s LinkedIn account for clues.
In some cases, influential employees are active on social media, promoting their brand, engaging with other people, and creating valuable content. That’s not a rule, but you can start by approaching the employees who’re active on social media.
Consider creating a free plan to deploy the B2C2B sales model successfully. And if you choose to offer a freemium product, you’ll add a powerful acquisition channel, differentiating yourself from the rest of your competition. How?
“Freemium isn’t a way of monetizing your customers, it’s a way of acquiring them.”
As the article indicates, freemium will encourage word-of-mouth marketing, lower customer acquisition cost, and build customer habits, which increases the friction of moving to another brand.
Moreover, companies use freemium to strengthen their expansion revenue position. If customers are familiar with your product and what it can do, they’re already primed to make a purchase.
💥 To remember: We may see new personalized marketing strategies to connect and incentivize employees to use a platform and promote it team or company-wide. Some PLG companies may create attractive referral programs for users, aka influential employees. If the employees get their entire teams to use a platform, they’ll receive a reward. We may also observe an increased number of Startup or Team Programs. PLG companies will offer significant discounts and credits, incentivizing teams to kick-start their work on the platform.