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How to get your first Enterprise Customers as beta users?

I am the founder of an "Enterprise Knowledge Management & Search" startup and we are getting ready for a private beta.

I am looking for advice on how to reach out to companies or teams within companies (the product can be easily be used just in a team inside a company too and does not need company wide adoption to be useful) who can become our Beta Users and potentially move on to becoming real customers.

I have read advice so far which is very vague like "talk to your potential customers", "interview them", "find street customers" etc, I agree to all of those, but my question is which channels are good for finding them in the first place?

We registered our site on betabound.com and are beginning to see some interest from there. What other channels/options do I have?

13 Replies

Gregory Stromberg
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Gregory Stromberg Entrepreneur
Founder/CEO cannedwater4kids inc.
I have someone you can contact. Send more info on your product. Sent from my iPhone Greg Stromberg Cell [removed to protect privacy]
Nishant Pant
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Nishant Pant Entrepreneur
Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer
My last question where I provided more info was deleted by the moderators as "self-promotion". I am concerned the moment I give more info, they will do the same again.

But I will try to provide a one liner. The product is "indexedmind - a search engine for finding people, talent, skills and most importantly knowledge inside organizations".

Home: https://indexedmind.com
FAQ: https://indexedmind.com/home/faq
David Morse
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David Morse Entrepreneur
VP of Sales at Censio
Nishant -
  • What is your ideal customer profile?
  • What are some use cases? ("search engine for..." is too broad and non-specific. what problems are you solving and who has them?)
  • What is the price of your product?
  • How much effort is required to implement and integrate your product into their operations?
Answer these and I can give some relevant advice.

D
Dick Hardt
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Dick Hardt Advisor
Identity Guy at Amazon Web Services
1) Ask all your friends and past work colleagues. 2) Get some press on your company and vision and announce your beta and you may get some inbound. 3) Use the same techniques used in outbound sales. Identity a contact at a potential customer and send them a concise personal email.
Nishant Pant
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Nishant Pant Entrepreneur
Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer
Thanks Dick!
For David, here is the reply.
  1. What is your ideal customer profile - Any team or company with more than 10 people. That is when you start losing track of "tacit knowledge" that people are holding.
  2. What are some use cases? -
    • Want to know who knows about "Groupon Promotions" in your company? or maybe someone who has done "Facebook advertising" in the past, or who is the resident Java expert? - Start typing ..."face" or "grou"... and you will start seeing people or projects who know are associated with what you are looking for :
    • Start asking questions about projects or processes - and experts linked to the projects will get notified to answer your question. All QnA collected becomes searchable as part of the enterprise wide search.
  3. How much is the pricing? Product is in beta and free at this time. Pricing is not published yet but will be competitive (per employee for bigger organizations flat fee)
  4. How much effort is required to implement and integrate the product? -We spent a lot of time in making it completely effortless for people to use the product because the biggest problem with organizations is employee adoption.Because the product is designed to be viral and invites people to join as you go about doing using the site. eg. You add "Steve Jobs" as an expert for a project. The product will send an email to Steve Jobs in your company to join the website. It will be then prompt him almost holding his hands to do the needful.
Ian Gotts
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Ian Gotts Entrepreneur
Founder at Q9 Elements
If you are selling something innovative to enterprise customers, you need to read this. It is an abridged copy of a book called IMPACT. BTW I am one of the co-authors.

http://bit.ly/IMPACTbook


IMPACT summarised in 5 sentences:

Our 25 years of research has shown that every buyer follows a universal buying process, irrespective of industry, country or market and we have distilled this process into 6 steps;IMPACT. Idea, Mentor, Position, Assess, Case, Transaction.

The buyer of your disruptive and innovative solution is the Early Adopter (Geoffrey Moore; "Crossing the Chasm"). Early Adopters talk to vendors at the Mentor stage and work with them through to Transaction. Sadly most early stage companies try to engage their buyers as though they were Early Majority, which is not until the Case stage. With disastrous results.

The purpose of this book is to enable you understand what is happening for your Early Adopter customer through the IMPACT cycle and how to engage with them so that it all makes sense and becomes repeatable.

Ian Gotts
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Ian Gotts Entrepreneur
Founder at Q9 Elements
BTW website home page. point 2 WHO'S MIND. should be WHOSE MIND
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
In-bound is good but don't stop there. I would focus on departments of larger companies as u don't want to go through a formal Corp purchase process...not yet. Have your team dig through their networks as the low hanging fruit will be someone your team has a relationship with. Smother them with support to be sure they are successful. Much easier to get 10 more "customers" within 1 company than it is to get 10 more companies on board . Sales orgs within large software companies would seem like a good fit. As these sales Orgs are selling to a wide range of prospects they r constantly looking for tribal knowledge within their company about the industry, the competition, etc. I would have killed for a product like yours when managing large software sales teams!
Eric Rogness
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Eric Rogness Entrepreneur
Technical Product Manager
(Formatting screwed up my first post)

Because you're talking about smaller businesses, you should be able to achieve your early adoption goals through your network. It is important when you're asking for help from your network to be very descriptive. Your customer profile should paint a clear picture for them so that a perfect introduction will come immediately to mind. These are the points I cover when I talk about my ideal company, and the person within that company who would champion my product:

*Company*
30-300 (10-500) employees, growing, great culture, self-directed employees, promotes from within, hires based on cultural fit, they use collaboration software, most of their work happens on a computer, pay competitive and comfortable salaries, compensation is not tied to performance review.

*Internal Advocate*
Someone with direct reports (people managers), "work isn't transactional", appreciates their employee's discretionary efforts, loves their job, cares about their company as a whole beyond their individual stewardship, interested in their employees' advancement, they want to introduce/reinforce a culture of recognition in their company

This has been huge for lead generation. I get at least one - often many more - perfect referrals from each person around me who wants me to succeed.

To belabour that point, if I tell you that I'm looking for companies with 10+ employees, you'll probably know 200+, but won't refer me to any, because you don't want to waste my time, or theirs. If I thoroughly describe the person/company that I can help right now today, the list probably gets whittled down to 2-5 companies. Adding a dollop of those you're *not* ideally suited to help -- hospitality, health care, etc -- will narrow that down to 1-2 perfect introductions you'll want to make, because it's good for me (your friend) and for the prospective customer (also your friend!).
Nishant Pant
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Nishant Pant Entrepreneur
Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer
I am so thankful and amazed by the quality of answers you all have posted here so far. It is amazing how the startup community is so close knit and always willing to help each other. I have talked to friends and past colleagues from previous jobs, and most of them haven't even bothered to take time out of their busy lives. But then I see people here who I don't even know, willing to offer real and heartfelt advice for no personal benefit. It is just heart warming. Thank you all again!
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