How B2B Software Vendors Create New Categories

Over the past few years I have spent a considerable amount of time studying the best practices of category leaders in the Software-as-a-Service market. I have been particularly focused on market leaders in the business applications space – in categories ranging from accounting and finance to sales and marketing. Examples include Coupa (procurement), Zuora (subscription billing), Anaplan (financial planning), Hubspot (inbound marketing), (sales) and Terminus (account-based marketing). In the research, I’ve identified a common set of best practices that category leaders with $1 billion plus valuations follow in the marketing, product, and customer success strategies.

Category leaders do much more than build a great product. They take a bigger picture view at disrupting the status quo.  The software vendors achieving unicorn status and the highest market share take a disruptive approach to four areas: 1) technology, 2) process, 3) people, and 4) metrics.

#1) Technology

Reinventing the Technology Platform – Category Leaders don’t want to just plug-in to the customer’s existing ecosystem. They want to displace the existing tech stack and replace with their own platform.

#2) Process

Reimagining Business Processes – Category leaders don’t want to incrementally improve the current business processes. They want to fundamentally reinvent the way the work is done.

#3) People

Redesigning the Org Chart – Category leaders don’t want to just get a lot of people trained on their technology. They want to create new job functions, new career paths and entirely new organizations.

#4) Metrics

Redefining Success – Category leaders don’t want to just help customers achieve their existing goals. They want to redefine their KPIs and what it means to be successful.

Category Leaders Use Four Best Practices

Category Leaders Use Four Best Practices

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