In the B2B sphere, online marketplaces are gaining traction, fast.
According to TrustRadius, 60% of B2B tech buyers in 2021 were Millennials. These digital natives don’t buy B2B tech and services the same way their predecessors did; they value the ability to self-serve online and independently find and compare products and services.
In short, they’re more comfortable browsing a marketplace online to find the perfect providers and products than they are fielding an unexpected sales call or talking to a company rep in the flesh.
To stay in the game, you need to embrace B2B marketplaces as an essential sales channel for your tech (and your partners’ tech, too). There’s just one hitch: with so many SaaS companies setting up their own B2B marketplaces, how do you set your marketplace apart from the mob?
Your B2B marketplace needs a killer online marketplace value proposition.
You’ve poured considerable time and resources into crafting distinct value propositions for your brand, products, and apps. Similarly, to win customer mindshare (and partner mindshare, at that) you need to communicate an online B2B marketplace value proposition that helps customers understand how your marketplace meets their needs better than any other.
This McKinsey article centers around how B2B sales teams need to evolve to sell more efficiently via e-commerce channels and marketplaces. Their ideas around encouraging a value-creation mindset struck me as great suggestions for three aspects of a killer online marketplace value proposition:
Using the above ideas as a jumping-off point, here are my thoughts on three aspects to inform a winning online marketplace value proposition:
1. Provide bespoke solutions that meet specific customers’ needs.
While the ability to browse and buy ready-to-go solutions is a hallmark of an effective marketplace, many B2B customers still need tailored solutions. Your marketplace should provide both. That’s why the best B2B marketplaces make it easy for vendors and partners to provide bespoke, tailored solutions for defined customer segments or individual accounts.
For example, Morphed’s B2B marketplace infrastructure transforms RFPs into e-commerce proposals. This tool simplifies and accelerates the process of creating and quoting for bespoke solutions using collaborative digital briefs and commerce-enabled proposals. Vendors and partners can collaborate with each other – and communicate directly with customers – through a Partner Portal.
2. Collaborate with your ecosystem to create pre-packaged solution bundles.
This is a concept I’ve written about pretty extensively, as bundling your tech with partner tech or services to create ready-to-go, holistic solutions is a great way to delight your customers and remove friction from your marketplace sales process. Include ‘best seller’ bundles and more niche bundles aimed at particular customer segments to attract a range of customers.
Delve deeper into my ideas around pre-packaged bundles and solutions by checking out some of these articles:
· A helpful guide for SaaS on how companies optimize packaging (for guidance on creating service bundles vs. app bundles)
· How to keep up with the evolving B2B purchasing process (for information around embracing a solution aggregation strategy to create and package multi-vendor solutions)
· 3 proven ways of growing a partner ecosystem via a marketplace (for a look at how our own experience has proven the concept of selling service bundles)
· How to maximize revenue through a cloud marketplace platform (for information on how bundled solutions contribute to a thriving B2B marketplace)
3. Design offers relevant to all stages of the customer lifecycle.
“While it’s similar to the buyer’s journey, the customer lifecycle takes into account the customer’s experience, or what happens long after a prospect makes a purchase,” explains HubSpot. HubSpot splits the customer lifecycle into five stages: reach, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty. Using your marketplace to engage, delight, and up-sell or cross-sell customers at all stages of the customer lifecycle is a powerful way to build loyalty and maximize LTV – and differentiate your B2B marketplace.
The Morphed marketplace solution includes functionality that allows you to solve for your customer throughout the entire lifecycle. The intuitive catalog layout makes it easy for customers to discover the depths of your ecosystem and find new products and solutions. In addition, the Customer Portal gives each customer access to a personalized dashboard with full visibility of purchased solutions, billing cycles, and upcoming renewals. Through this portal, your customers can engage with partners, send briefs and digital RFPs, discuss ongoing projects, make milestone payments, and close projects with ratings and reviews.
Cross-selling and up-selling partner solutions and collaborative bundles is another way to solve for your customer throughout their lifecycle. Have a look at my Apps Marketplace Masterclass article on cross-selling and up-selling techniques for a comprehensive rundown on how to leverage your B2B marketplace effectively to increase customer success and retention rates.