Each of these B2B Go-To-Market Strategies will require a different type of marketing support, will have unique KPIs, and will require different skills and tools to operate.

Free Trial

The Freemium B2B Go-To-Market Strategy

Freemium is a B2B SaaS business model that offers both a free and paid version of your product. Typically the free version has restrictions in place that limit its value, requiring customers to pay for premium features.

For example, Calendly offers a free version of their product. This version is free forever and has enough functionality that you can use it, and get value from it. However, they have restricted many features to paid accounts.

If you want to remove calendly branding, manage more than one calendar, leverage integrations, etc you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account.

First, the Calendly product is great. If you have a need for this type of scheduling check it out. If you’re an independent consultant or freelancer, the free version will almost certainly meet your needs, and if it doesn’t the two paid tiers are only $8 and $12 per user.

When it comes to executing a Freemium strategy, Calendly checks all the boxes.

Calendly checks all the B2B Freemium boxes:

  1. Easy to set up and integrates with common tools
  2. Strong value in the free account
  3. Good incentives to upgrade
  4. A pricing strategy that is reasonable
  5. Built-in growth engine – as teams mature and fully adopt the service their subscription costs increase.

All they really have to do is deliver an amazing free experience (keep their promises) and the rest should take care of itself for a business use case. Plus, consultants and freelancers who are happy with the free version become brand ambassadors as they are booking client meetings that contain calendly branding. Brilliant

The Free Trial B2B Go-To-Market Strategy

The free trial SaaS model is the most widely used of all the B2B business models. Free trials provide a relatively easy way for businesses to provide potential customers with an opportunity to experience the benefits of their product or service.

A typical B2B free trial motion goes something like this:

  1. A prospect visits your website
  2. Prospect buys into your marketing messaging
  3. Prospect creates a free trial account
  4. Prospect is assigned to a sales rep
  5. Sales rep attempts to understand the use-case and intent of the prospect
  6. Sales rep works hard to qualify the prospect and get them to value
  7. Prospect either gets to value and moves into the sales pipeline
  8. Prospect churns out of the trial, goes dark, decides its not a fit

In the free trial model so much depends on your ability to:

  1. Attract prospects with buying intent, and
  2. Offer a free trial that delivers extreme value with low effort

There are hundreds of examples of B2B SaaS businesses running a free trial model, Ubersuggest is a great one that I spoke of earlier, but rather than getting back into that example, let’s take a closer look at a different product called JRebel.

JRebel is a tool marketers are likely not familiar with. It’s a Java plugin that eliminates the need to redeploy your code after making changes – so you can make changes and see them instantly. For Java developers this is a big deal, saving them tons of time previously wasted waiting for their code to rebuild (value), and from the perspective of the business a huge win – increasing the velocity of their dev team (return on investment).

A free trial model fits well here for two reasons:

  1. Java developers that try JRebel get extreme value. They love it. It addresses a core frustration of developing in Java and significantly improves their day-to-day.
  2. The business sees great value in getting teams of developers writing and shipping more code, faster. By adding JRebel to their toolset businesses instantly increase the output of their team.

In this situation there is clear value delivered with relatively little effort, a winning combination for a free trial SaaS model.

The Enterprise B2B Go-To-Market Strategy

Enterprise SaaS is tough and can get complicated. This model follows many of the same steps you see in the free trial model and often does include a free trial component. The difference is in the types of companies you’re selling into, and in the complexity of the software, you’re selling. Even if you’re not selling into the Enterprise this option could be a good choice for you if your product is difficult to set up, or requires significant effort on the part of the customer to get to value.

The entry point for prospects in an Enterprise SaaS model is often a demo request where a sales rep asks some qualifying questions and provides an overview of the product. Ideally, the overview is customized to fit the prospect’s use-case, but that is not always possible.

Coming out of the demo if there seems to be good alignment there is typically a proof of concept (POC) agreement where the two parties will establish some objectives and put a plan in place to provide some onboarding and training in an effort to get the prospect over the hump so they can experience the value of the product. If all goes well the prospect moves into the pipeline and becomes a customer.

Obviously this is oversimplified and with good reason. The motion here varies greatly from business to business, and the main point I’m trying to communicate is that this model requires the seller to be very hands-on through the entire process – this is a very resource-intensive model.

Looker is a great example of how to run an Enterprise go-to-market model. Looker is a Business Intelligence Platform that has a pretty steep learning curve and requires significant effort and commitment on the part of the prospect in order to really experience the full value of the product. It would not make sense for Looker to offer a free trial, the product is too complex. Allowing prospects to explore on their own would be frustrating and counterproductive. It would cause more harm than good.

Freemium could work as a long term strategy to capture more of the market (go down market), build brand awareness, extend goodwill … and this is where focus, and understanding your customer comes into play.

Looker is focused on delivering a product experience for their target customer, and ensuring that prospects entering the funnel are fully qualified and have buying intent before they spend time on them. Smart.

There is an opportunity to blend the free trial and enterprise models for the right products, or to bridge a gap as your product experience matures. And in truth, most businesses blur these lines as they figure out a custom marketing/sales/customer success motion that fits their unique business situation.

The Right SaaS B2B Go-To-Market Strategy for Your Business

These 3 models are the most common of the go-to-market models used by B2B SaaS businesses, but that doesn’t mean you pick one and go for it. As businesses prepare to bring their product to market they need to take into consideration the market they are entering, the persona they are selling to, the strengths and weaknesses of their product, the cost of their product, and a number of other factors. All of this information factors into how you chose to bring your product to market and which model or blend you select.

The right SaaS go-to-market model is the one you determine to be the best fit for your business.

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