What Can an Early-stage Company Do to Increase the Chances of a Successful First B2B Implementation?

April 7, 2024
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So You Signed a B2B Contract…*A tech startup’s first B2B implementation is high-value/high-effort. Contract renewal, expansion, and acting as a referral for future clients or investors are at stake. Revenue realization may occur post go-live, increasing the pressure of executing a successful and timely implementation.

Implementations require the coordination of multiple teams and managing expectations while wading through a bunch of unknowns.

Sales may have committed to features that aren’t yet built or well-defined. Surprises regarding your client’s processes, regulation, or other unanticipated nuances will emerge. What can an early-stage company do to increase the chances of a successful first B2B implementation?

Assign Responsibility

As someone who is regularly hired to lead a company’s first implementation I’m admittedly biased, but I recommend naming someone at your company whose focus is making your client feel that this implementation is “successful.” Collaboratively define success criteria, whether that’s an on-time go-live, a usage-based metric, or a post-implementation survey result. Separate implementation-metrics from product-metrics: a product can be successfully implemented but fail to deliver value over time or vice versa.

Prioritize Transparency

A successful implementation starts from the initial conversation with the client. If the client believes all the features you’ve discussed are 100 % completed and actively being used by your “other clients”, they’re bound to ask questions when you propose a 6-month implementation timeline. The ideal client for a first B2B implementation is one who is aware they are your first B2B client and willing to partner with you on product development. The benefit to the client is having more influence over the design of the product.

Use Relationships as a Compass

Building strong relationships with clients is crucial for understanding their perception of the implementation's success.

My first question when entering a new project is “Who is the project manager on the client side?” Identify this person and have a 1:1 meeting with them prior to a formal kick off meeting. Seek their input on the kick-off agenda, attendees, and any specific points to emphasize or avoid.

Make the kick-off meeting a co-produced event so you and the client project manager form a team from Day 1. Building trust and remaining in close communication with the client project manager pays dividends down the line in the form of avoiding surprises and navigating unavoidable tensions.

Tracy Brinkerhoff

As a process optimization specialist with over eight years of experience, she has built strong relationships with clients, executed complex implementations, and gained an in-depth understanding of end-user needs. She has worked with early-stage digital health startups in the US and Latin America.