7 Insights on Building a Business of Business Software in India
Using success in the Indian market to get funded and then branch out to other countries
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In India, we have seen significant growth and advancement in the B2B software industry. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of B2B companies in areas such as retail, travel and financial services among others. There have been reams written about the possibility of developing successful B2B software-as-a-service apps for developed countries like the US, in India, and there are umpteen case studies to substantiate the same. This article is about a different breed of companies, those that are squarely targeting the Indian enterprise.
1. Create a Product Using Customer Feedback
It is important to develop a product based on adequate market research with a pulse on customer requirement. There should be a mechanism in place that continually evaluates market feedback. Indians traditionally have not been enamoured by software services that provide multiple features at one go -- they value efficiency and speed.
SaaS businesses typically have a light touch, online via email/ chat only support model. Yet, our learning has been the opposite. Not surprising, given that India is famous for its service industry. Having a physical local presence for support is favoured by Indian businesses. So probably the light touch support model, popular globally, will take a while to gain traction in India, given our expectations around service delivery. The way out is to make the product as robust as possible and the UI as simple as you can, to minimise mistakes.
3. Indians Not Paying is a Myth
Indians or rather Indian businesses do pay and substantially as well, but this is determined by the success the brand or service has achieved. So, the initial cheques may not be large but are very important to get the case studies established.
4. Word-of-Mouth is the Biggest Marketing Tool
According to me, Account Management or Account Based marketing is a key strategy to grow the business. Digital marketing brings in too many junk enquiries and drops the conversion to less than 5per cent. Word of mouth can lift that conversion factor to 10per cent or more.
5. Travel is the Key to Achieve Success
Large metros are 30per cent of the market or more, but there is a large untapped market in smaller towns where access and knowledge are limited. There is yet to be a successful 'Software as a service' story targeting these rural and semi-rural businesses, yet there is enough potential as evidenced by the high level of consumption here. Growth here can be driven by an intensive roadshow strategy. This is something that has worked well for us.
Today not only in India but internationally too, B2B buyers are millennials. Today the buyers are young and tech-savvy. Understanding the unique purchase pattern of these young buyers will be critical to the long-term growth of B2B service providers. Self-service interfaces and 24/7 e-commerce availability is a must.
7. Multi-System Integration Is Useful
To provide efficient service to customers, B2B providers should integrate their e-commerce systems with other core platforms, from large back-end supply chain software to customer relationship management systems. The fully integrated solution knocks down functional silos, giving sales, marketing and customer service teams the ability to cooperate efficiently.