Naming your plans “Business” does not make it so
OK I get it — consumer sexy, enterprise booooring. I would know because I work for a large enterprise and “sexy” is not a term I use frequently to describe what I do. It is difficult to sell to large businesses — you need a big sales/marketing channel, it takes time to build relationships, there is lots of bureaucracy involved, etc.
By their nature start-ups do not have the resources to deal with even the most basic client sales/support requests let alone focus their energy on enterprise channels. Thanks to many SaaS solutions they can more effectively deal with and even automate to a certain extent their sales and support activities but most rightfully decide not to focus on enterprise sales to not distract their focus.
And it is perfectly fine to make a conscious decision to not sell to enterprises and still build a great business. One of my favorite companies, 37Signals, now called Basecamp, is an inspiring example of how to build a consumer web app and scale it to great success without dealing directly with enterprises (or any sales activity for that matter).
Things get a little murkier though when a business starts advertising “enterprise” or “business” plans but still rely mostly on web-based and social channels to connect with their customers.
Take Vimeo for example. I use Vimeo personally and love it. It provides great functionality for protecting content through its embed settings. Hence they were the perfect fit out of the box for something we were trying to accomplish at work.
After a little research on their web site and finding out that they offered a Business plan, I decided to reach out to find a sales contact to ask a few questions and discuss purchasing process. Unfortunately as with many web apps these days there are no phone numbers listed on their website so I sent a support request asking for a contact info.
After waiting for a day with no response, I opened up another support request using my personal Pro account. This was answered much quicker but after a few emails trying to explain that I wanted to get in touch with their sales team to ask a few questions, I still could not get a contact name and number. It has been a few days and I am still nowhere to close to getting an answer to my questions or talking to someone.
And I sincerely don’t think it is unique to enterprise users to expect timely response. Take Basecamp’s support response times for example:
“In addition to making customers happy, our fantastic team also answers questions fast. Across the last 500 new cases we’ve received during our normal hours, we’ve responded to 97% in less than hour, with the average case answered in 14 minutes and solved in 25 minutes.”
That is freaking awesome and would meet the requirements of most large businesses. If you treat all your users like Basecamp does, it does not matter who your target customer is. But if you are not operating at this level but still advertise enterprise or business level plans, I would hope that you put some resources behind your sales channel and not solely rely on your support team or your social media channels.