March 22, 2011 | By Rey Villar
On March 21, Ajilitee’s Groupon offer for 50% off a $25,000 consulting engagement ended. It’s been a fascinating three weeks, rich with learnings. At the end of the day, no one accepted our offer of a discounted one-week BI Best Practices Audit or a Cloud Opportunity Map. We knew this was possible, maybe probable. A big-ticket IT consulting offer had never been offered on a daily deals site before, and our approach was a first.
We wanted to know if a popular B2C model bringing together buyers and sellers in a new way could be adapted in a B2B enterprise environment. Can you fit a square peg in a round hole? We extended the deal to three weeks, allowed a year for exercise, and extended a relevant offer on the discount platform that would provide the most mileage for our experiment. Ready, set, go.
It appears the market isn’t quite ready for enterprise deals, which typically require months of decision-making time, executive buy-in and planning. These organizational constraints are a hindrance—our buyers in many cases aren’t empowered to pull the trigger on a big purchase without conferring with others, expenses need to be built into annual budgets, project resource allocations are already committed. It’s too different and it feels risky to be the first.
Our concept struck a chord with the market, though. In the past three weeks, we’ve heard about (and directly from) many deals sites that are springing up at this very moment to provide discounted B2B deals, mainly targeted to the small business market. Just to name some: Bizydeal, Bizdeals, BizGrouper, B2Bucks, GroupPrice, BIZcounts and OfficeArrow.
Will the enterprise buyer get there eventually? Our opinion is yes, and Ajilitee is on record to have broached this notion. It will begin with small businesses, who are more nimble, with less infrastructure and more individual empowerment. And it will probably focus on commodity-type products and services initially before branching out into more complex buys. Over time as the model becomes familiar and ingrained in practice, economics will draw in the enterprise buyer. And perhaps sites like Groupon will find more ways to add flexibility in their platforms to align with typical B2B buying cycles.
As consultants, our job is to keep our heads above the clouds and pay attention to what’s happening in the atmosphere. We were willing to test this out-of the-box strategy designed to help customers help themselves. In the end, no one did help themselves, but we think prospects will value our bold thinking nonetheless.