Ex Microsoft staff form first independent B2B field team
Out of the ashes of Microsoft mobile’s B2B division rises Be2Bee which claims to be the UK’s first B2B specialist field marketing team. Ran by former B2B account controller Paul Richmond and former channel sales manager Robert Parr – the duo aims to recreate their B2B success at Microsoft where they helped to drive over £60m in channel revenue, for other manufacturers.
After an expensive acquisition of Nokia’s mobile arm, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced both major redundancies and the scrapping of their smartphone ranges last May after a continuation of Nokia’s long decline in consumer market share.
Speaking to Mobile, Paul Richmond explained why this was an opportunity for them to form their own B2B service – Be2Bee, ‘It makes perfect sense for us to do this, having developed the relationships in both operator and indirect channels.’
Elaborating on what a specialist B2B field marketing team offers compared to retail field marketing teams Richmond explains, ‘You need people that have worked in the channels either directly selling to end users or via a partner. That’s the gap we are going to fill. The costs associated with recruiting in-house sales teams can be high and you run the risk of not hitting the ground running. With specialist sales teams that know the market, what drives partners to push the product and most importantly, what businesses are looking for in their devices and mobile services, we can offer an agile and immediate ROI for manufacturers.’
Leading manufacturers have told Mobile that B2B and consumer device demands are rapidly converging, asked if this impacts the relevance of a pure B2B service, Richmond responded, ‘We are solutions salespeople that ultimately are having a workplace productivity conversation. We aren’t selling specifications just to box shift. Whilst convergence is there, the need to protect your business-critical data is paramount and not a message you get across in consumer advertising and messages. There is also a greater all-round service and support message you need to get across. Plus, value-added services and solutions are a great revenue stream and customer retention tool if managed the correct way.’
With consumer growth at best limited and at worst non-existent in the UK, B2B offers manufacturers reliable growth, even amid continued pressure on IT buyers to reduce device costs. However, with thousands of partners and more complex sales at each of them, it can be difficult for manufacturers to navigate. Outlining some of the difficulties consumer-focused vendors face, Richmond tells Mobile, ‘B2B is much more than just a device and its specification. The end to end service and service wrap solutions such as provisioning can not only make or break a deal but simply ensure you win the customers business. Business requirements can be complex with the integration of mobile into IT departments. It is not a simple cost exercise, it is crucial that customers also get a solution that allows its employees to work efficiently in the field as if they were in the office.’
Richmond and Parr plan on utilizing their combined 25-year history in distribution, sales, account management and channel marketing to achieve strong growth for Be2bee, targeting deployment of a B2B team within a manufacturer before Autumn 2017.